Using Historical Methods in Management and Organization Research

For the first time, Aston’s summer programme is offering this course on historical methods in management & organization research.

Course information:

Aston Business School

9 July 2018


Management and organizational researchers are increasingly interested in the opportunities for historical research. Even though history as a discipline does not have a similar understanding of methodology to the management and organization studies, in recent years there have been a number of publications and workshops demystifying historical approaches and analytical techniques. This one-day workshop will introduce participants to basic techniques and recent developments, as well as providing worked examples and on-hand advice for ongoing research projects.

Course outline

9.45 – 10.00        Welcome and introduction

10.00 – 12.00      Introduction to basic research techniques

12.00 – 13.00      Focus on participants’ projects

13.00 – 14.00      Lunch  break

14.00 – 15.00      Recent developments in organization history, introduction to key debates

15.00 – 16.00      Worked example: researching organizational corruption at Enron

16.00 – 17.00      How to publish organizational history: journals, rationales and strategies

17.00 – 17.15      Summary and end of seminar



 Stephanie Decker, Professor in History and Organization Studies

Adam Nix, Researcher in Organization History and Organizational Corruption

More information on:


Fees: One day workshop: £125. This includes University-wide wifi access; lunch and refreshments.



PDW on Historical methods at AOM2017

Last Friday we ran our professional development workshop on the uses of historical methods at the Academy of Management. We had a full house, seven excellent presentations and lively discussions with the audience. We also distributed our draft bibliography on historical methods in a previous post and hope you can give us some feedback and suggestions.

Dan, Diego and I plan to run future events focused on historical methodology in management and organization studies and are open to your feedback, suggestions and requests. Below you find links to our presentations from the day.

Introduction: AOM2017_PDW Hist Meth intro

JoAnne Yates: JY history and organizational studies AOM 2017

Michael Rowlinson: AOM pdw Historical Methods

Steph Decker: AOM2017_PDW-Archival Ethnography

Bill Foster: 2017 AOM Ethnostatistics PDW presentation

Christina Lubinski: AOM Distant Markets Christina

Michael Prietula: AoM-2017-PDW-prietula-2


AOM PDW on Historical methods

*** Apologies for cross-posting ***


PDW on “Historical Methods for Management and Organizational Research”



Stephanie Decker, Aston Business School

Diego M. Coraiola, U. of Alberta



William Foster, U. of Alberta

JoAnne Yates, MIT Sloan School of Management

Matthias Kipping, Schulich School of Bus, York U.

Michael Rowlinson, U. of Exeter

Christina Lubinski, Copenhagen Business School


Program Information

Session Type: PDW Workshop

Program Session: 107 | Submission: 12154 | Sponsor(s): (MH, CMS)

Scheduled: Friday, Aug 4 2017 12:15PM – 2:45PM at Hyatt Regency Atlanta in Embassy Hall E




The PDW will be divided in two parts.

  1. In the first part the participants will present on topics related to the use of historical methods in management and organizational research. After the presentations we will have time for questions and answers from the audience.
  2. In the second part the participants will be distributed in roundtables and the audience will be invited to join them to discuss specific topics of the practice and publishing of historical research in management journals and receive feedback on their research projects.



***No registration required.


We do not require a formal registration. However, if you are planning to join us, we strongly encourage you to prepare a brief summary of a research project you are working on together with any doubts or puzzling issues you have been facing that you might want to discuss and get feedback on during the roundtables.



Historical approaches to management and organizations have seen many promising developments in recent years, with several articles, special issues and edited books highlighting the important contribution that historical research can make to our understanding of contemporary organizations. Theoretical debates on the status of historical approaches within management and organization studies have dominated so far. These are important as they determine what kind of historical methods align with scholars’ epistemological and theoretical approach. Hence this PDW has two aims: to introduce scholars interested in the more practical questions of how we can use historical methods for organizational research to a range of option, and by highlighting the methodological implications of using specific historical approaches. This PDW will bring together several scholars who have used historical methodologies in their research. Their presentations will introduce participants to a range of methodologies and offer them the opportunity to subsequently discuss the relevance of these approaches for participants’ research projects in small groups in the second half of the session.




AOM PDW: Frontiers of Digital History Methods

Academy of Management Meeting, Atlanta

PDW Workshop

Frontiers of Digital History Methods and Tools for Management, Organization, and History Scholars

Friday, Aug 4 2017 2:00PM – 4:00PM
Session Type: PDW Workshop
Submission: 16488
Sponsor: MH
Scheduled: Friday, Aug 4 2017 2:00PM – 4:00PM at Hyatt Regency Atlanta in Hanover Hall E

Organizer: Robin Gustafsson, Aalto U.
Organizer: Mirko Ernkvist, Ratio Institute
Presenter: Charles Edward Harvey, Newcastle U.
Presenter: Mirko Ernkvist, Ratio Institute
Presenter: Mairi Maclean, U. of Bath
Presenter: Johann Peter Murmann, U. of New South Wales
Presenter: Michael Rowlinson, U. of Exeter
Presenter: David A. Kirsch, U. of Maryland

This PDW This PDW sets out to provide a broad overview and insights to management, organization, and history scholars at large on the current research forefront in how digital databases, methods and tools could contribute to the integration of management, organization, and history research. Overall the PDW centers on the idea for outlining opportunities and current frontier work with digital methods and tools for systematic digital reconstruction of historical sources, rigor and transparency of analysis and inference from evidence. These methodological advances enable new forms of scholarship and research groups collaborations. This PDW will: (1) introduce the participants to the historical developments of digital databases, tools and methods; (2) provide perspectives by forerunner management, organization, and business history researchers on methodological advantages, challenges and opportunities with digital history methods and tools for the integration of management, organization, and historical research; (3) present leading recent research work with digital methods and tools using large-scale digitized historical sources and evidence; (4) provide ample of time for Q&As and open discussions.

CfP: Use of Methodology in MH

Special issue call for papers from Journal of Management History


Guest Editors:
Wim van Lent, Montpellier Business School
Gabrielle Durepos, Mount Saint Vincent University

Submission deadline: 1 February 2018


Ever since the “historical turn” in organisation studies (Clark and Rowlinson 2004), the importance of history to understanding organisations and institutions has been increasingly recognized (e.g. Sydow, Schreyogg and Koch 2009, Ocasio, Mauskapf and Steele 2015, Suddaby 2016, Durepos and Mills 2012). Since history provides an alternative to the dominant science paradigms in organisation studies (Zald 1993), studies using a historical approach are contributing to and even shaping a growing number of scholarly debates (Decker, Kipping and Wadhwani 2015). The growing appreciation of historical approaches to building and testing organisation theory has spawned a body of work on how to engage in historical analysis with the specific aim of bridging the gap between the historical and organisational scientific communities (e.g. Rowlinson, Hassard and Decker 2014, De Jong, Higgins and Van Driel 2015, Whittle and Wilson 2015, Suddaby 2016, Durepos 2015). The fundamental insight that emerges from it is that history is no less fragmented than organisational theory (Rowlinson et al. 2014: 269). According to Bowden (2016), management scholars are essentially divided along a continuum with on the one extreme De Jong et al.’s (2015) position that history should be empirical and theory-oriented, and on the other extreme Whittle and Wilson’s (2015) “ethnomethodological” perspective, which is rooted in postmodernism and takes a more critical perspective on history-writing. Scholars find themselves either on the continuum with genealogy (Decker et al. 2015) and rhetorical history (Suddaby, Foster and Quinn Trank 2010) and even beyond with ANTi-History (Durepos and Mills 2012, 2017).
Although methodological diversity could impede moving the field forward, the variety that they encompass comes with potential, for example in terms of diversity of research questions and richness of historical knowledge (Decker et al. 2015). Fortunately, the conditions for the further development of management history (also in relation to other fields) seem to be in place: despite history’s growing permeation of organisation studies, there is still a lot of evidence enclosed in corporate archives with which management historians can formulate novel insights into the working of organisations and institutions (Rowlinson et al. 2014, Mills and Helms Mills 2017). However, in order to fully realize this potential, management history will have to go beyond “merely” continuing the proliferation of research using alternative types of historical data and analysis. Most importantly, research should be multidisciplinary (Bucheli and Wadhwani 2014), connecting an understanding of organisational theory and methods with historical contexts and source material (Rowlinson et al. 2014), or involving multiple sources and methods for data analysis (Bowden 2016). In addition, since histories are not uncontested records, management history is greatly helped by methodological reflexivity (Rowlinson et al. 2014). That is, when researchers are aware of their role in selecting certain traces over others, what their sources cover, and how and why they were put together, as well as the shaping influence of the historical context within which they construct theoretical arguments, they may improve the plausibility of their analyses and better identify scope conditions (Bowden 2016).

Aims and Scope
This special issue has two broad purposes: 1) to move forward the methodological debates in management history and 2) to demonstrate the use of / refine historical methods in organisational research through empirical analysis. We therefore welcome both theoretical and empirical papers. Below we suggest a non-exhaustive list of specific topics that contribute to the above two goals. Papers focusing on topics that are not included but sufficiently related to the goals highlighted above would also be welcome as submissions to the special issue.
•    Epistemology and management history
•    Typification of research methodologies
•    Novel research methods in management history
•    Ways in which different methods can be combined for richer empirical insights
•    Empirical demonstrations of the use of one or several methodologies
•    Methodological refinement through empirical analysis
•    Benefits / drawbacks of research methods for a management history audience

Submission Process
Submitted papers must conform to the submission guidelines of the Journal of Management History. Manuscripts are due by 1 February 2018 and must be submitted using the JMH submission system at Authors should indicate that they would like their document to be considered for the special issue “Uses of Methodology in Management History”. Authors of papers invited to be revised and resubmitted will be expected to work within a tight timeframe for revisions.

Further information

Questions pertaining to this special issue may be directed to:
•    Wim van Lent (
•    Gabrielle Durepos (
•    Bradley Bowden (

For questions about submitting to the special issue contact the JMH Publisher, Patti Davis (


Bowden, B (2016) Editorial and note on the writing of management history. Journal of Management History, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 118-129.
Bucheli M and Wadhwani D (2014) Organizations in time: history, theory, methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Clark P and Rowlinson M (2004) The treatment of history in organisation studies: toward an “historic turn”? Business History, Vol. 46, No. 3, pp. 331-352.
De Jong A, Higgins DM and Van Driel H (2015) Towards a new business history? Business History, Vol. 57, No. 1, pp. 5-29.
Decker S, Kipping M and Wadhwani D (2015) New business histories! Plurality in business history research methods. Business History, Vol. 57, No.1, pp. 30-40.
Durepos G (2015) ANTi-history: Toward amodern histories, in P Genoe McLaren, AJ Mills and T Weatherbee (Eds.), The Routledge companion to management and organisational history (pp. 153-180). New York: Routledge.
Durepos G and Mills A (2012) ANTi-history: Theorizing the past, history, and
historiography in management and organizational studies. Charlotte, NC:
Information Age Publishing.
Durepos G and Mills A (In press, 2017) ANTi-history: An alternative approach to historiography, in C Cassell, A Cunliffe and G Grandy (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative business and management research methods. London: Sage.
Mills A and Helms Mills J (In press, 2017) Archival research, in C Cassell, A Cunliffe and G Grandy (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative business and management research methods. London: SAGE.
Ocasio W, Mauskapf M and Steele CWJ (2016) History, society, and institutions: the role of collective memory in the emergence and evolution of societal logics, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 676-699.
Rowlinson M, Hassard J and Decker S (2014) Research strategies for organisational history: a dialogue between historical theory and organization theory, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 39, No. 3, pp. 250-274.
Suddaby R (2016) Toward a historical consciousness: following the historic turn in management thought, M@n@gement, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 46-60.
Suddaby R, Foster W and Quinn Trank C (2010) Rhetorical history as a source of competitive advantage, Advances in Strategic Management, Vol. 27, pp. 147-173.
Sydow J, Schreyögg G and Koch J (2009) Organisational path dependence: opening the black box, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 34, No. 4, pp. 689-709.
Whittle A and Wilson J (2015) Ethnomethodology and the production of history: studying ‘history-in-action’, Business History, Vol. 57, No. 1, pp. 41-63.
Zald M (1993) Organisation studies as a scientific and humanistic enterprise: towards a reconceptualization of the foundations of the field, Organisation Science, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 513-528.

“Unknown vistas in management and organization history” workshop at York

The Management and Organization History Cluster at the University of York (UK) are hosting a Winter School on Monday 7 December 2015.

“Unknown vistas in management and organization history: a workshop.”

Towards the unknown

The historic turn in Management and Organization Studies (MOS) inaugurated nearly twenty-five years ago appears to have legitimated theoretically sensitive historical studies in a range of management journals, and has seen widespread use of organization theory within business history.

While the philosophical debate about the role of theory narrative, and memory related to method in historical work in MOS will surely continue, we have decided to turn our attention to new vistas, to continue the disciplinary voyage and to ask, simply, what’s next?

The purpose of this Winter School is therefore to identify, outline and discuss the unknowns (both known and unknown) in the field of management and organization history, broadly conceived.

What are the areas and topics about which we are ignorant? Why are they unknown? How might we know them? What new methods and disciplinary collaborations might be required to develop new knowledge? Where will the great disciplinary challenges lie in the coming years? And how shall we address them?

The workshop will be conducted via informal roundtable discussions. Contributions might include (but are not limited to) consideration of historiography, methodology, temporality, historicity, theory, sources, archives, argument(s) and interpretation(s), myths, paradigms, problems, puzzles, inter-disciplinarity, new empirical topics, public history and policy, history and the ‘business humanities’, or any topic which has the potential to open an unknown vista.

We intend that the workshop will lead to an edited volume consisting of short discursive chapters that continue and develop the workshop discussions.

For further information please see the website for the Management and Organization Research Cluster.