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date: 16 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Scholarship has been moving toward the reintegration of business and cultural history, in ways that offer payoffs for both. The best of this work avoids much of the determinism and teleology of older approaches, finding that business can be practiced, quite successfully, in many different ways in different cultural settings. The new scholarship challenges business historians to recognize the more expressive aspects of business culture, beyond what culture may contribute instrumentally to firm growth. Modern cultural theory offers a way to rethink the relationship between business and culture. Treating culture as constitutive turns familiar business issues of strategy, structure, and technology into objects of meaning and interpretation, “artifacts” of values and practice rather than hard, settled facts. Such an approach argues for giving business ideas, practices, and expressions equal footing with material matters of production and profit.

Keywords: cultural history, scholarship, business historians, business culture, cultural theory

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