Big business has been at the heart of business history from its very beginnings, whether as a mere literary genre; or, more seriously in the last half century, as an academic discipline. The Chandlerian paradigm has considerably reinforced this trend, with other approaches to the subject being largely marginalized. Interest in big business has not waned with the advent of the post-Chandler era and is unlikely to do so, given its crucial role in economic development; but this role has been put in proper perspective and alternative forms of business organization reappraised as part of modern societies rather than mere archaisms. This article concentrates on defining the notion of big business; on comparing the various stages and the specific context of its development, especially in the United States, the major economies of Western Europe, and Japan; and on briefly discussing the socio-political dimension of the phenomenon.
Peter W. G. Morris
Project Management is a social construct. Our understanding of what it entails has evolved over the years, and is continuing to do so. This article traces the history of this evolution. It does so from the perspective of the professional project management community. It argues that although there are several hundred thousand members of project management professional associations around the world, and many more who deploy tools, techniques, and concepts which they, and others, perceive to be “project management,” there are differing views of the scope of the subject, of its ontology and epistemologies. Maybe this is true of many subjects which are socially constructed, but in the real world of projects, where people are charged with spending significant resources, misapprehension can be serious.
Over the last decades, the discussion on climate change, together with catastrophic events in the power sector, has raised global interest for radical policy changes. Since the year 2000, Germany´s Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) has been a forerunner in triggering large-scale decentralized deployment of renewable energy. Although built on a relatively large social consensus, the consequences of the German ‘Energiewende’ have also raised conflicts between communities and investor-oriented project developers. This chapter reviews the increasing role of energy co-operatives as means to involve civil society, mitigate conflicts in planning, and distribute subsidies more evenly among a variety of often rural stakeholders.
This article follows the study of Garriga and Melé (2004), which distinguishes four groups of corporate social responsibility theories, considering their respective focus on four different aspects of the social reality: economics, politics, social integration, and ethics. The first one focuses on economics. Here the corporation is seen as a mere instrument for wealth creation. The second group focuses on the social power of the corporation and its responsibility in the political arena associated with its power. The third group focuses on social integration. It includes theories which consider that business ought to integrate. In describing each theory, this article commences with an overview, followed by a brief historical background, including the milestones of its development. Then, it outlines the conceptual bases of the theory, concluding with a brief discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of each theory.
Sylvain Lenfle and Christoph Loch
This chapter illustrates the management of uncertainty, of stakeholders, and of contractors, and then draws on history—the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb, and Cold War-era space and defense projects such as Polaris and Apollo—to show that knowledge of how to overcome these issues has long existed and could be used effectively in some megaprojects today. For example, Manhattan Project manager General Groves realized that big unforeseeable uncertainties in designing atomic weapons required discrete project management skills including flexibility, but these techniques have since been pushed aside in a managerial push for control that became the phased-planning or “stage-gate” process philosophy. While some successes in the 1940s and 1950s may not be repeated today with the same managerial methods, because stakeholder complexity was lower at a time when huge projects served “national priorities,” it is argued that some mid-twentieth-century managerial techniques would help improve modern megaprojects.
Archie B. Carroll
The purpose of this article on corporate social responsibility (CSR) concepts and practices, referred to as just ‘social responsibility’ (SR) in the period before the rise and dominance of the corporate form of business organization, is to provide an overview of how the concept and practice of SR or CSR has grown, manifested itself, and flourished. It considers how the CSR concept, expanded from its focus on a few stakeholders, close at hand, to be more far reaching and inclusive, eventually becoming global in scope. In addition, it briefly considers what organizational activities and changes have taken place to accommodate these new initiatives, to the point at which it has become fully institutionalized today. It becomes apparent that today, well into the first decade of the 2000s, CSR in many firms is moving towards full integration with strategic management and corporate governance.
John Kay, Peter McKiernan, and David O. Faulkner
This article aims to describe the evolution of thinking about business strategy over the forty or so years in which it has been identified as a distinct subject of study, and makes some suggestions about its possible future development. It begins from the 1960s perspective in which strategy was largely equated with corporate planning, describes the 1970s emphasis on diversification and portfolio planning, and observes concern in the 1980s for concentration on the core business and the development of less analytic, more people-orientated approaches to management. It concludes with thoughts for the future. The article outlines the conventional, now unfashionable, but nevertheless still dominant rationalist approach to strategic thinking — scan the environment, assess your strengths and weaknesses, formulate the strategy, and then go on to secure its implementation. But the principal criticisms made of that approach is also noted.
This article discusses the relationship between historians and contemporary social scientists. It considers the definition and conceptualization of industrial districts, their origins and sustainability, governance mechanisms, the influence of national institutions, and the nature of current transformations. The article is concerned with several issues. The first of these issues concerns the relationship between the districts and the wider world. Arguably, the self-contained character of the districts has been overstated even for earlier periods. The second issue concerns the changing morphology of the districts and the relationship between different sizes and types of firms within them. The final issue concerns governance and coordination mechanisms within the districts, which are by no means fully understood. Beyond the role of intermediate institutions, which is attracting increasing attention from historians in Italy and elsewhere, researchers might consider the contribution of product standards and accounting techniques in the coordination of economic activity within and across districts.
Industry Self-regulation as a Solution to the Reputation Commons Problem: The Case of the New York Clearing House Association
Lori Qingyuan Yue and Paul Ingram
This article employs a historical example, the New York Clearing House Association (NYCHA), to consider how firms rely on reputational solutions to fill the ‘institutional vacuum’ left by lack of formal regulation. It demonstrates that the effects of negative spillover on market confidence produced a reputation commons for banks during times of panic, and that the NYCHA was founded as a collective institutional solution for ameliorating the problem of reputation commons. The difficult fact in protecting reputational commons is that it requires many direct competitors in an industry to cooperate. The success of the NYCHA in mitigating panics was a result of the system of loan certificates, and of the monitoring and sanctioning regime that backed the system. The NYCHA confirms that self-regulation can solve the problem of reputation commons. The trend of globalisation in recent decades provides new possibilities for exploring industry self-governance as a solution for reputation commons.
The now established academic field of book history places an orthodox emphasis on the book as a material object, as a focus of diverse transactions, and as a social phenomenon. The role of the publisher has been relegated to the contributions of a few named individuals, often within a narrow eurocentric context, that highlight those individuals’ efficiency in book production and diminish the collective nature of the publishing process. A fresh approach to publishing history instead stresses the movement from the role of skilled reproduction houses, through trading in the copyright inherent in books, to the exploitation of content rights across a range of media. Such an approach provides a keener historical insight into the structures and operations of the contemporary global publishing industry.