ZUG SI: The business from within Africa

Zeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte/Journal of Business History

Special Issue: The business from within Africa

African agency in business through history

The business of entrepreneurial agency in Africa brings together a tapestry of activity, networking and economic mobility over several centuries. Historians are exploring this complex integrated web of economic activity relying on multiple disciplinary perspectives. Business people assumed agency in developing extensive exchange networks moving natural resources, agricultural products and locally manufactured goods beyond the borders of local markets. In these entrepreneurial activities women and men collaborated towards social sustainability, but also personal advancement. As the legacy of planning gradually allowed individual and collective agency in business (Natkhov & Pyle, 2022), this is the history of Africa’s entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial families, entrepreneurial corporations and business networks business historians stand to deliver.

The agency of people in enterprise all over Africa has not received systematic attention in Business History. The entrepreneurial role of all the peoples of Africa in different business structures, organisational form and even informal groups, displayed a growing engagement with international business. The collection on business in Africa edited by Falola and Jalloh (Falola T and Jalloh A, 2002) surveyed the landscape of African and African-American business, but now the innovative entrepreneurial businesses amongst all Africa’s peoples justifies a new history. The new lens is the narrative of the long dureé of business agency in Africa. Business men and women built on the deep-rooted legacy of entrepreneurial agency in developing market operations through enterprises of varying size and structure to negotiate the opportunities of Africa in the world. As state intervention in markets slowly contracts, dynamic and innovative business entered both African and global markets.

This development motivated the ZUG to dedicate a Special Issue to the history of business in Africa. This call for contributions seeks to solicit submissions exploring the history of business people and business enterprise in Africa, from earliest times through the discontinuities and complexities of the last half of the twentieth century, to global engagements in recent times. The following questions are driving the enthusiasm for this volume:

  • Who were the business leaders of the past and how did they infuse business capacity into the next generation of business leaders in different African contexts?
  • Who were the business leaders – men and women?
  • How have entrepreneurs adjusted to dynamically changing market trends?
  • How have markets in Africa interacted internally and externally with global markets?
  • How has the organisation of business changed in different contexts in Africa?
  • How have business organisations fostered/undermined business development?
  •  Has business in Africa benefitted from privatisation?
  •  How has state regulation impacted business development in Africa?
  •  How does business in the MENA region align with business in SSA?

Submissions of draft manuscript outline (1000 words) with discussion of methodology and preliminary findings 30 June 2023.

The Editors of the ZUG will communicate acceptance of manuscript submissions by 15 July 2023. Final manuscripts for publication are due by 30 November 2023.

Guest editors:

Prof Grietjie Verhoef, University of Johannesburg, South Africa gverhoef@uj.ac.za.

Prof Ayodeji Olukoju, University of Lagos, Nigeria aolukoju2002@yahoo.com


Akinyoade, A., Dietz T., and Uche, C. (2017). Entrepreneurship in Africa. Brill Publishers.

Falola, T. and Jalloh A. (2002). Black Business and Economic Power. Rochester University Press.

Natkhov, T., & Pyle, W. (2022). Revealed in Transition: The Political Effect of Planning’s Legacy. www.RePEc.org

Ochonu, M. (2018). Entrepreneurship in Africa: A Historical Approach. Indiana University Press.

NEH-Hagley Fellowship on Business, Culture, and Society

The NEH-Hagley Fellowship on Business, Culture, and Society supports residencies at the Hagley Library in Wilmington, Delaware for junior and senior scholars whose projects make use of Hagley’s substantial research collections. Scholars must have completed all requirements for their doctoral degrees by the February 15 application deadline. In accordance with NEH requirements, these fellowships are restricted to United States citizens or to foreign nationals who have been living in the United States for at least three years. These fellowships are made possible by support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Fellowships may be four to twelve months in length and will provide a monthly stipend of $5,000 and complimentary lodging in housing on Hagley’s property. Hagley also will provide supplemental funds for local off-site accommodations to NEH fellowship recipients who can make a compelling case that special circumstance (e.g. disability or family needs) would make it impossible to make use of our scholar’s housing. Scholars receive office space, Internet access, Inter-Library Loan privileges, and the full benefits of visiting scholars, including special access to Hagley’s research collections. They are expected to be in regular and continuous residence and to participate in the Center’s scholarly programs. They must devote full time to their study and may not accept teaching assignments or undertake any other major activities during their residency. Fellows may hold other major fellowships or grants during fellowship tenure, in addition to sabbaticals and supplemental grants from their own institutions, but only those that do not interfere with their residency at Hagley. Other NEH-funded grants may be held serially, but not concurrently.


Deadline: February 15

Requirements for application: (Apply online at https://www.hagley.org/research/grants-fellowships/funding-application ).

Applicants also should arrange for two letters of recommendation to arrive separately by the application deadline. These should be sent directly to Carol Lockman, clockman@Hagley.org. Questions regarding this fellowship may be sent to Carol Lockman as well.

NEH-Hagley Fellows 2022-2023:

Anna Andrzejewski

Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Building Paradise:  The Creation of South Florida’s White, Middle-class Retirement and Vacation Landscape, 1945-1970

Trish Kahle

Assistant Professor, Georgetown University, Qatar

Confidence in Our System:  How an Electric Utility Remade a Deindustrializing Energy System

Louis Galambos National Fellowship in Business and Politics

Louis Galambos National Fellowship in Business and Politics supports completion of exceptional dissertations for which the Hagley’s Library research materials constitute a significant source and that connect with the mission of the National Fellowship Program. The Galambos Fellow is expected to be in residence at Hagley for the fall and spring academic year. While in residence, the Fellow will receive an office, stack access, inter-library loan privileges, internet access, the opportunity to present a paper in Hagley’s seminar series, and complimentary  use of Hagley’s accommodations for visiting scholars.  The Fellow receives a stipend of $30,000 for one year. The application deadline is February 1.

Like other National Fellows, the Galambos Fellow is paired with a senior scholar in the fellow’s field who will serve as a mentor and provide critical guidance during the year. The Galambos Fellow meets with a Mentor while in residence to assemble her/his research network, and receives summer training for leadership in the academy, higher education, and related institutions. Expenses for network events and activities are paid for by a dedicated budget for each Fellow.

Applications are accepted through the National Fellowship Program of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation. To apply, go to https://www.jeffersonscholars.org/national-fellowship. Please direct questions to Carol Lockman, clockman@Hagley.org

JIBS Special Issue “Beyond History Matters”

A Happy New Year everyone!

Just a reminder – if you have any questions about our forthcoming #specialissue in Journal of #InternationalBusiness Studies, take a look at this #video with some of the guest editors below.

We answer questions such as:
– What do you mean by Moving beyond “#history matters”?
– What kind of #research are you looking for in this special issue?
– What would a great contribution to the SI look like?
– What are the next steps?

Guest editors for this special issue:
Stephanie DeckerKlaus MeyerGeoffrey JonesCatherine Welchrebecca piekkari

You can find the #callforpapers here: https://lnkd.in/ek3zgDmP

New OHN podcast article: Enron and the California energy crisis

Do you want one of your articles available as an audio version? Send us a message at Orghist.com! The article needs to be OA and formatted as a word document designed to be read out. Get in touch for more information.

This week, we are making another audio version of an Open Access article available as a podcast.

Enron and the California energy crisis: the role of networks in enabling organizational corruption.


  • Adam Nix.
  • Stephanie Decker.
  • Carola Wolf.

Published in Business History Review, 2021, volume 95, issue 4.


We provide an analytically structured history of Enron’s involvement in the California energy crisis. In doing so, our analysis explores Enron’s emergence as a corrupt organization and its use of an inter-organizational network to manipulate California’s energy supply markets. We use this history to introduce the concept of network-enabled corruption, showing how corruption, even if primarily enacted by a single dominant organization, is often highly dependent on the support of other organizations. Specifically, we show how Enron combined resources from partner firms with their own capabilities, manipulating the energy market and capitalizing on the crisis. From a methodological point of view, our study also emphasizes the growing importance of digital sources for historical research, drawing particularly on telephone and email records from the period to develop a rich, fly-on-the-wall understanding of an otherwise hard-to-observe phenomenon.

Keywords: Organizational corruption; Organizational misconduct; Analytically structured history; Digital sources; Energy supply industry.

CfP PDW for BHC 2023

The Business History of Natural Resources

Business History Conference, Detroit, 16th March, 2023

In recent years, both business historians and economic historians have been reconsidering the significance of natural resources, and there has been a growing interest in examining the historical role of natural resource management and policy in shaping some of the key challenges and trends in the modern world. The economic history of natural resources lies at critical intersections of business, environmental, and political history, as well as providing key opportunities to critically examine histories of race, gender, labour, and imperialism. As our world becomes increasingly reliant on internationalized systems, utilizing business history as a framework through which to examine natural resources is a timely emerging area of historical research with powerful resonance for contemporary issues and strong interdisciplinary potential.

In collaboration with the 2023 Business History Conference and its theme of ‘Reinvention’, this workshop provides an opportunity to share and develop papers on topics relating to the business history of natural resources, broadly defined. The purpose of the workshop is to support the development of historical research on natural resources for publication in high-quality outlets, including The Routledge Handbook on the Economic History of Natural Resources. In addition, workshop participants will discuss how to address the common challenge of writing economic histories of natural resources for multiple audiences across historical, business, political science, and environmental science disciplines, including more explicitly presenting engagement with theoretical debates and demonstrating the necessity of reinvention for harnessing the potential of business history to interrogate emerging phenomena in our current, globalized natural resource industries.

Participants are expected to read all circulated papers. Please submit an extended abstract before January 20th, 2023 to the workshop organizers.

Organizers: Madeleine Dungy, Audrey Gerrard and Espen Storli, Department of Modern History and Society, NTNU.

For any questions about the workshop, or to submit an abstract, please send to: espen.storli@ntnu.no

CfP – International Congress on Business History in France

PARIS, 14-16 June 2023 – CALL FOR PAPERS




In France and in the French-speaking world, companies, like their counterparts in the rest of the world, have been experiencing crises and profound transformations in recent years. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has developed in a lightning fashion since the beginning of 2019, has given rise, as it does after every crisis, to numerous analyses on the changes in the economic world. These questions have been rekindled and sharpened, particularly in Europe, by the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, which, in particular, is dealing serious blows to the world trade system and, through it, to the globalisation of the years 2000-2010. As always, many commentators have wondered and continue to wonder whether the ‘world after’ will be the same as before.


Crises, conflicts or wars put companies to the test. They force them to transform themselves and test their resilience. But they also engage the state. The Keynesian resonances of the measures taken in recent times in response to the Covid-19 crisis have contributed to questioning the economic or political models that were previously dominant. They remind us that the state, understood in the broadest sense, is and remains a major player in times of crisis. With hindsight, how can we not think of other periods in history? The cyclical economic crises of the 19th century – that of 1846-47, for example, or the long depression of 1883-1896 – or those of the 20th century – 1921-1922, 1926-27, and even more so the ‘Great Depression’ of the 1930s, or the recurring crises of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, or, closer to home, the shocks of 2007-2009. How can we not also mention the increasingly industrialised military conflicts that led to total war and then to the nuclear age and indirect conflicts between past, present and emerging superpowers? These crises are followed by periods of reconstruction, restructuring and more or less brutal transformations. These questions are not new. Historians, as well as researchers from other disciplines, have already studied these periods and the processes of adaptation, reconversion or mutation of national or regional economies, companies and their respective actors. While some sectors of the economy have resisted or even benefited from the crises, others have suffered to the point of sometimes disappearing to the benefit of foreign actors. New structures, new balances and new ways of thinking or doing things have often emerged from these periods.
What can we learn from History here? The difficulties, or even the collapse of certain sectors constitute a first source of understanding of current events. The historical distance allows us to look back at the concepts, to identify the permanences and contingencies and to reveal the temporalities of these major phenomena. This leads us to question their possible novelty or modernity, and allows us to know what they can generate in terms of ‘transitions’ or ‘resilience’… If there are to be ruptures, where, when, how and why are they likely to appear in the historical dimension? Should we not rather speak of the acceleration of older trends? How do these phenomena question the intellectual frameworks, tools and methods of French business history? Answering these questions is the objective of the second Paris Congress.

In a spirit of intellectual and disciplinary openness, the aim is to bring together as many researchers as possible from different traditions of the humanities. It is sufficient if they place their work in a historical perspective or if they address questions related to the historical dynamics of companies. In addition to collaborations and confrontations between French and foreign teachers and researchers, the objective of this congress is also to encourage exchanges between the academic world and the actors of economic life, both public and private, who are interested in the history of companies, their positioning and functioning, their performance, their structures and strategies, and, more broadly, that of organisations and all those who live and work in them. Finally, the congress logically sets itself the objective of offering, with regard to these objects, the opportunity to reflect on the way in which the history of companies is being made and written today in France or in the French-speaking world.

Three main groups of issues will be addressed.


In line with the preceding questionnaires, three major axes emerge. First, the strengths and weaknesses of French and foreign companies in a crisis environment will be assessed and/or measured. Secondly, the practices and behaviours of French companies in the face of the challenge of change and adaptation should be examined. Finally, the question arises as to whether or not French business history has the tools and concepts to think about transition and resilience today?

1- Strengths and weaknesses of companies – French or foreign – in a crisis environment

In fact, trying to assess or measure the strengths and weaknesses of companies and/or foreign companies implies answering some fundamental questions: what are the constraints they are facing? What strategies are they developing to cope with them or to ensure and/or continue their growth? What impact do these have on structures (governance, forms of ownership)? Have these in turn had an impact on constraints and strategies? Can we therefore identify a French model of organisation and management?

1.1- Constraints
– Weight of national public institutions (State, economic policies, public companies, role of law and social laws, legal and regulatory framework, etc.);
– The issue of national independence;
– Specificities of the functioning of the labour market and social relations;
– Modalities of regulation of markets and competition (prices, standards, norms, lobbies, cartels, business and competition law, etc.);
– Weight of associative and cooperative organisations in the economic dynamic.

1.2- Strategies
– Strategic choices and geographical choices: positioning on the value chain in globalised capitalism;
– French companies and technology (production methods, robotisation, product technology, innovation and research);
– The entrepreneurial and managerial issue (risks versus innovations);
– Training (recruitment of managerial elites, role of engineers, weight of consultants);
– Methods of financing economic activity (banks, capital markets, monetary and financial regulation, etc.);
– Accounting, financial or marketing practices, personnel management.

1.3- Structures
– Governance, forms of ownership (family, shareholding), legal status, control methods;
– Structure and dynamics of investment, research and innovation support policies;
– Existence and/or persistence of a French model (forms of organisation, management styles and techniques, mentalities, values and specific ideologies).

2- French companies facing the challenges of change and adaptation

 It is also desirable to look at the practices and behaviour of French firms in the face of the challenge of change and adaptation: the impact of health crises (and not just Covid-19), the global rebalancing of investment flows (as with the Ukrainian crisis), internal transformations (composition and organisation of companies) and external transformations (impact of data and geopolitical factors), the emergence of new national and international regulation to the point where, both in doctrine and in practice, we can speak of the end of liberalism.

 2.1- The impact of health crises over the long term (from plagues to Covid)

– Lessons from past health crises (even distant ones) on how to manage crises (emergency, sustainable development and pollution, information and communication technologies of yesterday and today, specific contributions of archaeology);

– The place of ethical considerations (regalian power and individual liberties, corporate social responsibility (CSR), etc.)

– New forms of work and organisation, question of minorities and respect for diversity.

 2.2- The global rebalancing of investment flows

– Are we witnessing a change in the historical dynamics of certain French activities on the world markets: return of investments in France and Europe? Refocusing strategy?

– Evolution or adaptation of the weight and role of foreign companies in France.

 2.3- Transformations of the company

– Internal transformations: composition and organisation of companies (gender, visible minorities, positive action);

– External transformations: companies in the geopolitical relations of France with other world economies or other cultural areas (Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, Latin America).

 2.4- Towards a new national and international regulation: the end of liberalism?

– Evolution of regulatory doctrines and policies (from global to local) ;

– Evolution of private (competition, monopolies, cartels, etc.), public (planning, nationalisation, etc.) and mixed (carbon tax, etc.) regulation practices.

 3- Does French business history have the tools and concepts to think about transition and resilience today?

Such questions also imply a methodological dimension: does the history of companies in France have the tools and concepts to think about transition and resilience today? This implies identifying the relevant concepts and frameworks, looking back at the sources and their exploitation, taking into account the accumulated experiences and the new paths that are being outlined today. Finally, in a period of profound transformation in the transmission of knowledge, it has become crucial to consider the question of the publication of research work and results (languages, support, property rights and dissemination of knowledge).

 3.1- Concepts and intellectual frameworks

– Theories and practices of pluri-, inter- and trans-disciplinarity;

– National schools (of history, management, etc.) and methodological approaches, international schools (especially Anglo-Saxon);

– Alternatives between quantitative and qualitative (econometric, institutionalist approaches, etc.);

– Dialogue with “new” actors: archivists, researchers from the human and social sciences – historians, managers, sociologists, economists, anthropologists, etc. -, communication and history companies, lawyers, journalists, journals, newspapers, learned societies and academic associations, think-tanks, etc. How to dialogue?

 3.2- Sources and their exploitation: accumulated experience and new paths

– Risks and challenges for the business historian (accessibility of archives, control, property rights, destruction of archives, new sources, new forms of conservation or valorisation of funds by companies, etc.).

– The practices of corporate history (conservation of the memory, tools for valorisation and communication, training of employees, lever for change, construction of strategy, etc.).

– The impact of new technologies (constitution of archives, conservation, accessibility, communication, rights of use and ownership).

 3.3- Making research results public

– Language and languages (how to speak, role of English, etc.)

– Media (media, journals, publications)

– Intellectual property and dissemination (copyright, open source, etc.)

– Constitution of immediate or very recent corporate memory (archives collected on ongoing crises, oral archives, communication of recent digital archives to researchers, etc.).

4- Eiffel Centenary

In the context of the centenary of Gustave Eiffel’s death, the congress will offer a significant place to works and communications that will address the issues and themes presented in this call for proposals. Papers, sessions or contributions that mobilise sources, history or products related to Eiffel’s career, the history of his inventions and his companies will be welcome. 

Note : to submit a proposal, you must first open an account on SciencesConf site : https://www.sciencesconf.org/user/createaccount 

Full thematic sessions:

* Opening: September 23, 2022   Submit a proposal

* Deadline for submission of proposals: January 4, 2023

Individual communication :

* Opening: October 15, 2022   Submit a proposal

* Deadline for submission of proposals: January 9, 2023

Doctoral School :

* Opening of applications: 23 September 2022  Apply for doctoral school

* Deadline for applications: January 9, 2023

Poster session: 

* Application opening: October 28, 2022  Submit a proposal

* Deadline for applications: February 24, 2023

Prize for the best business history book published between 2020 and 2022  and prize for the best PHD dissertation:

Details of these awards.

– Website: https://businesshist23.sciencesconf.org/

New book: Postcolonial Transition and Global Business History (Routledge 2023)

Dear subscribers,

It is publication day for Prof Stephanie Decker — Postcolonial Transition and Global Business History: British Multinational Companies in Ghana and Nigeria (Routledge 2022) is out now!


British multinationals faced unprecedented challenges to their organizational legitimacy in the middle of the twentieth century as the European colonial empires were dismantled and institutional transformations changed colonial relationships in Africa and other parts of the world. This study investigates the political networking and internal organizational changes in five British multinationals (United Africa Company, John Holt & Co., Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, Bank of West Africa and Barclays Bank DCO). These firms were forced to adapt their strategies and operations to changing institutional environments in two English-speaking West African countries, Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast) and Nigeria, from the late 1940s to the late 1970s. Decolonization meant that formerly imperial businesses needed to develop new political networks and change their internal organization and staffing to promote more Africans to managerial roles. This postcolonial transition culminated in indigenization programmes (and targeted nationalizations) which forced foreign companies to sell equity and assets to domestic investors in the 1970s. Managing Postcolonial Transitions is the first in-depth historical study on how British firms sought to adapt over several decades to rapid political and economic transformation in West Africa.

Author Biography

Stephanie Decker is professor of Strategy at the University of Birmingham Business School, UK, and visiting professor in African Business History at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She is joint editor-in-chief of Business History, on the editorial board of Organization Studies, Journal of International Business Studies and Accounting History, and Co-Vice Chair for Research & Publications at the British Academy of Management.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction.
  2. Organizational Legitimacy and the Development Discourse.

PART 1 – Managing Postcolonial Transitions Externally .

  1. Corporate Political Activities before and after Independence.
  2. Indigenization Programmes and Organizational Legitimacy.

PART 2 – Managing Postcolonial Transitions Internally.

  1. Africanization in Companies and in the Civil Service.
  2. African Managers in British Businesses.
  1. Conclusions.


1. Introduction

This chapter introduces the book and provides an overview of key terms and the historical context, the companies selected for the study, and the country context. The term postcolonial transition describes the changes in countries like Ghana and Nigeria during decolonization and the first two decades of independence. Multinationals became increasingly aware of the need to build goodwill with domestic stakeholders. The book details their legitimization strategies, especially in terms of corporate political activities (Part 1) and Africanization (e.g., promoting African staff to positions of responsibility, Part 2). The introduction reviews the relevant literature, covering several different topics, such as decolonization and development thinking, economic nationalism and expropriations, Africanization and business historical studies of corporate legitimacy.

2. Organisational Legitimacy and the Development Discourse

Development economics emerged as a discipline out of World War 2 and its aftermath. Development ideas came to shape the legitimization strategies of imperial business during decolonization and continued to do so after independence. This chapter traces the nature of this development discourse internationally, specifically in West Africa, and how it shaped corporate responses to political and economic change. The influence of development discourse went beyond corporate strategies to foster political goodwill. It influenced commercial strategies such as refocusing activities and expansion beyond urban areas. By the late 1960s, this development discourse was under strain, and with it, multinationals found it more challenging to maintain the legitimacy of their subsidiaries.

3. Corporate Political Activities Before and After Independence

Corporate political activities became a major focus for British multinationals in West Africa as decolonization became a political reality. This chapter outlines how firms framed their key concerns over time and how this changed during decolonisation and after independence. Companies varied their legitimisation strategies from building personal networks to collective action. Whilst their focus was on colonial officials in the late 1940s and early 1950s, many companies began developing contacts with nationalist politicians and traditional rulers in Ghana and Nigeria in the 1950s. This strategy continued after independence, even though firms faced greater criticism in the 1960s and 1970s.

4. Indigenization Programmes and Organizational Legitimacy 

This chapter focuses on the expropriations and indigenization programmes of the late 1960s and 1970s in Nigeria and Ghana. It traces the complex sequence of different types of local content legislation and analyzes the corporate responses to these programmes. The Nigerian Enterprise Promotion Decrees were amongst the most comprehensive of these programmes in Africa. They were introduced when Nigeria realized windfall profits from its oil and petroleum industries, and thus multinationals were paying close attention. Expropriations of foreign companies in West Africa and beyond have been of interest to researchers in economic sociology, law, international business, and history. The final section engages with these debates based on the archival evidence from multinationals in Ghana and Nigeria.

5. Africanization in Companies and the Civil Service

In this chapter, the progress of Africanization in the civil service and in companies is compared to understand better what were the drivers and constraints of these changes. Progress in the private sector also varied between industries and companies, reflecting different legitimization strategies espoused by firms. Whilst Africanization progressed fastest in commercial companies, UAC was certainly more advanced than Holts. Banking generally lacked behind the commercial sector, and the archival records from BWA were not sufficiently detailed for a comparison. Mining was slowest; this may reflect AGC being particularly resistant under the leadership of Edward Spears to Africanize. Finally, this chapter investigates some of the factors that limited effective Africanization: high staff turnover due to significant skills shortages, ceilings to African advancement, and colonial salary structures that continued with limited reform into the independence period.

6. African Managers in British Businesses

Promoting African staff in formerly imperial British multinationals required significant changes to internal operations in organizations shaped by expatriate leadership. This chapter first discusses the changing relationship between expatriates and Africans and how companies constructed the notion of cultural and social distance between these two groups of employees. Many firms opted to develop staff training schemes to imbue corporate cultures and expectations to prepare Africans for management. British business leaders were concerned about whether they could trust their African staff, especially at times of rising anti-colonial and nationalist sentiment. As a group of employees, African staff also became more fractured in their interests – those who were promoted to managerial positions and better benefits and those who were not. In mining, the question of whom the African trade unions could represent and whether that included African managers led to conflicts. The rising economic nationalism of the 1970s created more opportunities for African managers in senior leadership positions in multinationals and to go alone in an entrepreneurial venture, sometimes competing with their former employers.

7. Conclusion

This chapter concludes the book and summarizes its main arguments: the type of legitimization strategies firms espoused to manage the postcolonial transition period in Ghana and Nigeria strategically. They relied on the then-dominant development discourse to frame their commercial activities, expanded their political networks, and began to advance their African staff to more responsible positions. As the post-war development framework lost its relevance in the face of economic difficulties, multinationals found their organizational legitimacy undermined. Expropriations and indigenization decrees often required multinationals to rely even more on their African managers, who benefitted from these opportunities for investment and advancement. Whilst the debate has usually focused on the question of control over foreign-dominated sectors of the economy, this book argues that legitimacy theory provides a better understanding of the strategies and constraints that multinationals were facing in West Africa and beyond.

Photograph of Richard Dyson (on the left) of Barclays Bank meeting Samuel Akintola, Premier of Nigeria’s Western Region, in 1964. Reproduced with kind permission of Barclays Group Archives.

PDW on business education at BHC 2023

Educating for business – and the business of education

Historical Perspectives and developments

CBS Paper Development Workshop

Business History Conference, Detroit, March 16-18, 2023

The past years have seen an increasing scholarly interest in the historicity of management
learning and education. Studies on historical interrelations between business and education
have appeared as journal contributions and special issues across diverse fields such as
business history, management- and entrepreneurship studies, and didactical research (Bok,
2009; Bridgman et al. 2016; Clinebell, & Clinebell 2009; Khurana 2007; Spender, 2016;
Wadhwani & Viebig 2021), as business schools and educational programs in management
are increasingly seen as having a transformational potential to address present-day global
challenges. Instead of merely educating for business, business school curricula and didactics
are now focused on educating for sustainable solutions and addressing grand challenges
(Gatzweiler et al. 2022).

In the PDW we focus on historicity of business education and, and we would like to explore
recent developments as well as theories and methods that might shed new light on the
historical development of business education.

The workshop offers an opportunity to get feedback and generate ideas of how to develop
concrete paper drafts that deal, one way or the other, with historical aspects of business
education. In addition, the PDW will serve as a forum where we can discuss future directions
and opportunities for historical studies within the area. What questions and research that are
yet to be explored? And what are the role for historians in shaping agendas and research

Themes to be explored in the papers could include, amongst others:

  • The role and development of entrepreneurship education
  • The historicity of business- and management education
  • Historical responses to grand societal challenges
  • Future directions of business education
  • Business school pedagogy and didactics in historical perspective
  • The historical development of business education curricula
  • Theoretical and methodological perspectives connected to business education

Submitted texts could take form as extended abstracts or full paper drafts. The important
thing is that readers can identify the key arguments, theories, and empirical material, for them
to provide useful feedback, suggestions, and comments.
The PDW is developed in the context of a special issues call on entrepreneurship education
in Management & Organizational History. Potential authors for the special issue are encouraged
to participate in the workshop, but the PDW is not limited to contributions for this

Participants are expected to read all circulated papers. Please submit a paper draft or extended
abstract before January 10, 2023 to the workshop organizers.

  • Christoph Viebig, CBS Centre for Business History: cvi.mpp@cbs.dk
  • Anders Ravn Sørensen, CBS Centre for Business History: ars.mpp@cbs.dk


Bok, D. (2003). Universities in the marketplace: The commercialization of higher education.
Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Bridgman, T., Cummings, S., & McLaughlin, C. 2016. “Restating the case: How
revisiting the development of the case method can help us think differently about
the future of the business school”. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 15(4):

Clinebell, S. K., & Clinebell, J. M. (2009). The tension in business education between
academic rigor and real-world relevance: The role of executive professors. Academy
of Management Learning & Education, 7(1), 99-107.

Khurana, R. (2007). From higher aims to hired hands: The social transformation of American
business schools and the unfulfilled promise of management as a profession. Princeton: Princeton
University Press.

Khurana & Spender, J. C. 2012 “Herbert A. Simon on What Ails Business Schools:
More than ‘A Problem in Organizational Design’. Journal of Management Studies,
49: 619–639.

Wadhwani & Viebig (2021) “Social Imaginaries of Entrepreneurship Education: The
United States and Germany, 1800–2020“ Academy of Management Learning & Education

Gatzweiler et al. (2022) “Grand Challenges and Business Education: Dealing with
Barriers to Learning and Uncomfortable Knowledge”, in Research in the Sociology of
Organizations, Vol. 79, pp. 221-237.