Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 27 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The aim of this article is to present a brief conceptual overview of the “historical alternatives” approach to business history. The notion of alternatives is central to this approach in both a historical and a historiographical sense. Historically, the hallmark of the historical alternatives approach is its emphasis on the salience of alternative possibilities, contingency, and strategic choice in the development of modern industry over the past three centuries. Historiographically, it represents an alternative to mainstream currents in economic, technological, and business history: an alternative, in particular, to Chandlerian business history focused on the economic and technological efficiency of administrative coordination and learning within large, hierarchically managed enterprises. The article sets out the core elements of the historical alternatives approach in the form of ten positive theses, before going on to respond to five major misconceived objections that have recurrently arisen in the course of the ensuing debate.

Keywords: historical alternatives, modern industry, business history, administrative coordination, hierarchically managed enterprises

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.