CALL FOR PAPERS
The “Nationality” of the Company: Historical Approaches to a Possible Paradox
University of Frankfurt am Main, 17.-18. November 2017
Organizer: Boris Gehlen (University of Bonn), Christian Marx (University of Trier), Werner Plumpe (University of Frankfurt/M.), and Alfred Reckendrees (Copenhagen Business School)
The relationship between nation states and the companies based in their respective territories is often ambiguous. Companies provide employment and they pay taxes, they contribute to national income and frequently to “national identity” (Disney, Dior, Daimler). Companies and businessmen engage in bilateral and international diplomacy, e.g. as door-openers for new relationships of the West to the Soviet Union in the 1950s or to China in the late 1970s. At other times, companies supported national policies of war and crimes against humanity. The histories of Chrysler, Krupp, or Rolls-Royce – to name just a few examples – provide abundant evidence of embeddedness and dependence on state capacity. Time and again, even companies describing themselves as multi- or trans-national seem to appreciate the security net of a nation state with its government and constituency of taxpayers, who act as lenders of last resort. In times of financial crisis there is no dearth of companies that claim to be citizens of a nation state for the sake of access to the respective state’s resources. At the same time the modern state has developed towards a ‘competition state’ acting like a company in a market of countries vying for investments. Nation states brand themselves; they try to attract customers and to service international markets. The question of companies and their nationality opens the discussion about how companies relate to society and the nation state, and vice versa. What nationality (if it has one) does a company have and how can it be conceived? In this call for paper we present some topics and examples indicating that nationality might matter in specific ways and that discussing a company’s nationality and studying how it is produced and/or how it changed over time might be a promising enterprise. The topics are not conclusive; all proposals discussing the issue of nationality in regard to (private) companies are welcome.
Perceptions and construction of nationality
The perception of what a company is about differs. Owners, employees, customers, and other stakeholders entertain different views on the same company. Employment might be one of the crucial factors in the discussion about the “nationality” of a company, products are perhaps another. The history of products is full of national narratives and sentiments; for more than a century “nationality” has been an element in marketing strategies and in the attempt to protect domestic markets (‘Made in Germany’, ‘Buy British’ etc). When Toyota set up subsidiaries in the USA in the 1980s, it employed American workers; its products continued to be “Japanese” cars, though, an argument frequently used to denounce Detroit’s competitors. What changed in the period of “globalization”? Many companies still produce “national” identities to promote specific products or strategies. Are these instances of “glocalization” turned “national”? It is generally assumed that McDonalds is an American corporation, and perhaps it is. But what about Atomic, the icon of Austrian skiing, owned by the Finnish corporation Amer Sports? Or Braun, whose products are perceived as the best of “German” industrial design? Since 1967 Braun has been owned by the “American” Gillette until in 2005 Gillette, and with it Braun, was sold to Procter & Gamble. Today, “Swiss” watches are sold with reference to national culture and values though the firm may be owned by a “Japanese” holding, the watch movement produced in Switzerland defines the nationality on the wrist. However, a Volkswagen car produced in Poland continues to be “German” car – how come?
Nationality as strategy
A company’s nationality is produced over time, and there are many factors to it, not least political factors. Yet, it does not seem as if a company’s nationality was a mere figment of imagination or only a matter of perception that can easily be neutralized or simply changed. When Deutsche Bank set out to depart from its “national identity” it turned out to be impossible; and companies that aimed at establishing themselves as part of the respective host nation’s community (be it open as in the case of Unilever or IBM Deutschland, or secret as ownership cloaking in the Interwar period) very often had a difficult time. Internationalization strategies, the decision of whether to use branches or to set up independent subsidiaries that operate according to the regulations of the “host” country is often explained with favourable or unfavourable institutional arrangements or with the range of foreign activities. Political risk may play a role as well. Does the “nationality” of the company going abroad and does the respective host countries also matter for the respective strategy? And, moreover, what about the relation of size and strategy? Do small and medium-sized companies pursue a different approach to “nationality” in comparison to large-scale companies? Are “small-multinationals” more nationally (or regionally) embedded?
Nationality in international companies and international mergers
Very many companies go abroad with their products, their brand, or parts or even all of their production; they internationalize and some of them seem to create new supranational entities that may outdo medium sized states in terms of economic power. Yet management may use the concept of nationality as a device to instil a sense of competition between different sites of production and the respective workforces within the corporation. Scepticism and fear of alien domination may arise when firms are taken over by foreign investors. Depending on the perceived “nationality” of the investor there seem to be good and bad takeovers, but what defines a good or a bad “nationality”? In the context of unwanted take-overs, employees and their trade unions often contribute to the construction of the “nationality” of a company.
Business historians have long debated ‘national management styles’ and management practices. And there may indeed be leadership styles more prevalent in some national contexts and institutional environments than in others. But should one distinguish between ‘American’, ‘German’, or ‘Japanese’ firms or capitalisms? This notion includes more than historically developed institutional varieties as discussed in the Varieties-ofCapitalism literature; it implies that cultural differences and “nationality” matter in a certain way. This question, among others, is dealt with in the fields of immigrant entrepreneurship and ethnic business groups. And it should not be limited to the field of management styles. Companies are fields of action of different corporate agents including managers, executive staff members, workers or employee representatives. Do, for example, German work councils feel responsible for British employees? Would it be possible to assign industrial relations within a company to a specific “nationality”?
Companies in (post)colonial settings
In the era of decolonization, many Western companies saw the newly independent nations of Asia and Africa not only as sources for raw materials but also as promising markets. In some cases older business ties were reactivated or strengthened; in other cases companies entered the new nations as newcomers. Since many former colonies opted for planned, protected economies and restricted foreign direct investment, companies interested in doing business there had to negotiate with governments and bureaucracies. How did the “nationality” of the firms in question affect these relationships? Furthermore, post-colonial multi-ethnic societies often invented new variants of the nation state. There might be a specific corporate response to new nationalism in post-colonial countries for companies having roots within or outside the respective new states. Also, behavioral patterns of “foreign” companies might be contingent on their relationship to the previous colonial power. Similar questions arise of course also regarding the colonial period.
One root of economic nationalism is the nation state and the protection of its citizens and their interests. Yet the quest for protection as well as the range of protection differs over time. The fear of foreign domination is often used as an argument to promote anti-foreign politics. Yet it is not only the political realm from which come calls for protectionism and anti-foreign measures. Companies ask for state protection as well in the shape of tariffs, subsidiaries, or other forms of legal, material, or moral support. When do we find economic nationalism in business? There is evidence for corporate support both to economic openness and to economic nationalism. One would expect export-oriented companies to behave different from those predominantly active in domestic markets, or companies relying on foreign finance to be in favour of open trade. But does this assumption hold? Some areas in which these relations are manifest are national and international cartels, restrictions on FDI, barriers to trade, currency issues, etc.
We invite scholars and Ph.D. students of any relevant (sub-) discipline to submit paper proposals relating to the wide range of topics that come under to the “nationality of the company”.
Abstracts of 500 to 1,000 words (PDF format) presenting the subject, the conceptual framework and the analytical approach along with a brief CV (one page at the most) should be sent to Boris Gehlen [firstname.lastname@example.org], Christian Marx [email@example.com], or Alfred Reckendrees [firstname.lastname@example.org] by September 30, 2016. At this point in time funding of travelling expenses and hotel for active participants is not guaranteed. Yet, we are optimistic that our funding application will be successful.
Today the first of two joint seminars at CBS on organizational history took place, focusing on the forthcoming special issue in Organization Studies. While the presentations were very short, allowing authors to only present the gist of their ideas, this meant that the discussions about the papers were lively and further fleshed out what we mean by “Uses of the Past”. How do we differentiate the past from history, how does it relate to time and temporality, what type of histories are useful to organizations? The special issue editors also used to opportunity to highlight their aims and plans for handling papers going forward.
Program: Paper Development Workshop “Uses of the Past”, December 9, 2015 – CBS
9.00 – 9.15 Welcome & introduction
9.15 – 9.45 Karim Ben Slimane, Institut supérieur du commerce de
Paris & Tao Wang, Grenoble Ecole de Management: “Absinthe Reborn: Relegitimation of Deinstitutionalized Practices”, Commentator: Andrew Popp, University of Gothenburg
9.45 – 10.15 Marianne Bertelsen, Copenhagen Business School: “Uses of Time: Organizing the Messy Temporalities of Contemporary Art”, Commentator: Mads Mordhorst , Copenhagen Business School
10.15 – 10.35 Coffee
10.35 – 11.05 Ron Kerr, University of Edinburgh & Sarah Robinson, University of Leicester: “Confecting a Corporate History: Uses of the Past in the Digital Age – The Case of the Mondelez International Website”, Commentator: Roy Suddaby, University of Victoria
11.05 – 11.35 Rebecca Kahn, King’s College: “The Career of the Catalogue: Exploring Uses of the Past in the Context of the British Museum’s Digitization Strategy”, Commentator: Andrew Popp, University of Gothenburg
11.35 – 11.50 Michael Rowlinson, Queen Mary University of London Senior Editor for Organization Studies
11.50 – 12.45 Lunch
12.45 – 13.15 William Foster, University of Alberta: “Authentic Rhetorical History: The Enactment of Sincerity & Credibility”, Commentator: Dan Wadhwani, University of the Pacific
13.15 – 13.45 Innan Sasaki, University of Turku & Davide Ravasi, City University London: “Maintaining Commitments for Centuries in Multi-Centenary Shinise Firm in Kyoto”, Commentator: Dan Wadhwani, University of the Pacific
13.45 – 14.10 Coffee break
14.10 – 14.40 Ida Lunde Jorgensen, Copenhagen Business School: “Organised Emotions: Strategic and Institutional Uses of the Past by Family Philanthropic Foundations”, Commentator: Dan Wadhwani, University of the Pacific
14.40 – 15.10 Tracy Wilcox, UNSW Business School: “A Convenient Amnesia? Organised Forgetting and Narratives of Safety in Qantas”, Commentator: Roy Suddaby, University of Victoria
15.10 – 15.30 Coffee break
15.30 – 16.00 Tristan May, EMLYON Business School: “If 6 Was 9 – Rhetorical History and the Instrumentalization of Symbolic Guitar Heroes in the Crafting of Iconic Electric Guitars”, Commentator: Mads Mordhorst, Copenhagen Business School
16.00 – 16.30 Christina Lubinski, Copenhagen Business School: “Constructing the Aryan Firm – Uses of History and Historical Negotiations on Organizational and National Levels”, Commentator: Roy Suddaby, University of Victoria
16.30 – 17.00 Discussion & Conclusion
Copenhagen Business School (CBS) is one of the world-leading environments for historical research at business schools and universities. The Initiative aims at making history more central to the research and pedagogical agenda of business schools.
To date, the initiative includes:
- Growing network of scholars and activities organized around three themes: “Historical Approaches to Entrepreneurship,” “Uses of the Past: History and Memory in Organizations” and “Cultural Approaches in Business History”
- Rethinking History-Fellowships for visiting scholars to CBS (previous visitors included Dan Wadhwani (Univ. of the Pacific), Mick Rowlinson (Queen Mary London), Ludovic Cailluet (Univ. of Toulouse), Stephanie Decker (Aston Business School) and Andrew Popp (Univ. of Liverpool)
- Annual PhD course “Using Historical Approaches in Management and Organizational Research” (first Nov. 2014 with 20 PhDs from 9 universities worldwide)
Source: CBS Rethinking History
Program for the ESRC Seminar ‘The Narrative Construction of Memory’
December 10, 2015 – Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
9.00 – 9.30 Welcome & Introduction
9.30 – 10.15 Tor Hernes, CBS: “Temporal Trajectory and Organizational Narrative”
10.15 – 11.00 Robin Holt, CBS: “Memory and Mnemosyne”
11.00 – 11.15 Coffee
11.15 – 12.00 Dan Wadhwani, University of the Pacific: “Projecting Plausible Futures: Uses of Historical Narratives in the Entrepreneurial Process”
12.00 – 13.00 Lunch
13.00 – 14.15 Ronald Kroeze, Free University of Amsterdam: “The Use of History and Narratives by Dutch Top Managers and Companies”
14.15 – 14.30 Coffee
14.30 – 15.15 Roy Suddaby, University of Victoria: “Rhetorical History and Narrative History”
15.15 – 16.00 Per Hansen, CBS: “Narratives as the Basis of Memory and History”
16.00 – 16.15 Coffee
16.15 – 17.00 Discussion & Conclusion
For further information, please see the poster.
This week the call for sub-theme proposals for the 33rd EGOS Colloquium, in Copenhagen, Denmark, in July 2017 went out. The Standing Working Group 8, launched by Behlul Usdiken, Matthias Kipping and Lars Engwall, still has one more year to go, but EGOS 2016 in Naples will be its last year. Hence for EGOS 2017 at Copenhagen Business School there will be no standard track for organizational history anymore. But there is the opportunity to submit a proposal for a stand-alone sub-theme on a related subject. The deadline for submission is Wednesday, November 25, 2015 (23:59:59 CET), and proposals can be submitted at any time before that.
To view the Call for sub-theme proposals, please go to the EGOS “2017 Copenhagen” website: http://egosnet.org/jart/prj3/egos/main.jart?content-id=1442567999319&rel=de&reserve-mode=active
Please ensure that you also read the “Guidelines and criteria for sub-theme proposals for EGOS Colloquia”: http://egosnet.org/jart/prj3/egos/data/uploads/General%20EGOS%20descriptions/EGOS-Colloquia_Guidelines_SUB-THEME-submission-2017.pdf
Call for Papers – Paper Development Workshop
Uses of the Past: History and Memory in Organizations and Organizing
Deadline for Abstracts: October 13, 2015
The Centre for Business History at Copenhagen Business School will host a paper development workshop (PDW) for scholars conducting research on the uses of history and memory in organizations and organizing on Wednesday, December 9, 2015. We welcome applications from scholars of all backgrounds conducting research on the question of why, how, and what affects the past is used by managers and organizations. The goal of the PDW is, in part, to support the development of research and foster dialogue among scholars who may be interested in submitting papers to the Special Issue of Organization Studies devoted to the same topic, though neither application nor attendance at the workshop is required for full consideration of papers submitted for the special issue. More information about the Special Issue can be found here: http://goo.gl/UVnpPx . Limited funds may be available on a competitive basis for applicants who are unable to get funding from their home institutions.
To apply, please email an abstract of between 300 and 500 words describing your research, along with a cv or bio to one the PDW organizers below. Applications should be sent by October 13, 2015 to receive full consideration. Please submit your paper to Mads Mordhorst (email@example.com) and Dan Wadhwani (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Applicants will get a feedback October 19 and successful applicants will be asked to submit either short papers (approx. 3,000 words) or full papers (8-10,000 words) by December 1 in order for other participants to read them before the PDW.
Dan Wadhwani, University of the Pacific, email@example.com
For more information see the flyer: PDW_Uses of the Past
“The narrative construction of memory”
Our next event in the ESRC seminar series will be hosted jointly with Copenhagen Business School on 10 December, 2015, from 9:00-17:00.
The seminar bring together scholars from history, organization studies and management, with interest in narrative construction of history and memory and organizations.
Tor Hernes (Copenhagen Business School): ‘Temporal trajectory and organizational narrative’
Sjoerd Keulen (Independent Scholar) & Ronald Kroeze (Free University of Amsterdam): ‘The use of history and the creation of narratives by Dutch companies’
Per Hansen (Copenhagen Business School): ‘Narratives as the basis of memory and history”
Dan Wadhwani (University of the Pacific): ‘Projecting Plausible Futures: Uses of historical narratives in the Entrepreneurial Process’
Roy Suddaby (University of Victoria & Newcastle University Business School): ‘Rhetorical history and narrative history’
Robin Holt (Copenhagen Business School): ‘Memory and Mnemosyne’
To sign up, please go to: http://goo.gl/forms/oBsZXfj1UG
For more information see the flyer: Biz_His Narrative Memory
As an interdisciplinary field of study, there are a range of different groups interested in organizational history or historical research on organizations, but from different angles. It is not always clear which of these would be of interest to scholars.
There are some ongoing iniatives, such as the ESRC seminar series in Organizational History (2015-2016) in the UK, run by Stephanie Decker, Mick Rowlinson & John Hassard, or the CBS Initiative in Business History, based in the Centre for Business History (Denmark).
This year’s AOM in Vancouver (2015) features a significant number of well-attended sessions on management & organizational history, which highlights an increased interest in historical approaches in management and organization studies. In fact several professional organizations in management and organization studies have regular tracks on organizational history, such as:
- The European Group for Organization Studies, Standing Working Group 8 on Historical Perspectives in Organization Studies (2011-2016), contact Dan Wadhwani, Stephanie Decker or Matthias Kipping.
- Management History division at Academy of Management
- British Academy of Management, regular track on history run by Kevin Tennent
- The Management History Research Group hosts annual conferences in the UK.
There are several professional associations in business history, which also include some work on organizational history, such as
- The Association of Business Historians (UK)
- The Business History Conference (USA)
- The European Business History Association (European)
- Arbeitskreis fuer kritische Unternehmensgeschichte (Germany)
A fascinating EU-funded project in organizational history is the Enterprise of Culture .
The International Network for the Theory of History offers a broader perspective on generic issues for organizational history.
But this is hardly an exhaustive list, so we would be very interested in hearing about any additional initiatives or groups that we should include here.