The purpose of this article is to examine the relationship between the historical development of accounting, information, and communication systems and business organizations since the late eighteenth century. Its findings are based largely on research conducted by accounting and business historians during the last quarter of the century, a period in which accounting history, once a niche area of research heavily focused on the development of double-entry bookkeeping, has been brought more firmly into the business-history fold. This reflects the work of those historians who have focused their attention on the development of cost/management accounting practices within firms, and the “new” accounting historians who have examined the wider relationship between accounting and the organizations and society within which it is embedded.
Born in England in 1861, Alfred North Whitehead turned to philosophy after a brilliant career in mathematics, where he developed a philosophical scheme based on experience as the ultimate unit of analysis, rejecting what he called the bifurcation between mind and nature that had dominated philosophical thought. He also invoked the idea of concrete experience to connect to American pragmatism, and especially to William James’s work. This chapter first provides an overview of Whitehead’s life and times before turning to his philosophical views. It examines Whitehead’s notion of atomism and his influence on organization studies. Finally, it discusses three aspects of events that may help lay foundations for an event-based organization theory inspired by Whitehead’s philosophy: events as spatio-temporal durations, the forming of events through mirroring, and the open structures of events.
Joseph R. Blasi and Douglas L. Kruse
Worker ownership plays a significant role in the US economy today. This worker ownership takes on different forms. A large proportion of the US population (close to a fifth) owns stock in the company where they work. Meaningful worker holdings are ubiquitous in high-technology companies such as Google in the Internet area, Microsoft in the software area, Gilead Sciences in biotechnology, and Qualcomm in mobile technology. The most intensive sectors of worker ownership in the US are about 10,000 companies with about 15 million workers with Employee Stock Ownership Plans, where about 4,000 of the firms are majority or 100 per cent worker-owned, and a compact but vibrant and growing sector of about 300 worker co-operatives with about 6,000 members. Much of this chapter is based on our book, The Citizen’s Share, with economist Richard B. Freeman (Blasi, Freeman, and Kruse, 2015: 57–122).
Carien de Jonge and Gail Whiteman
Arne Naess, a Norwegian philosopher known for his work on semantics and philosophy of science, was committed to Gandhian, non-violent enquiry. As an ecophilosopher and the father of the deep ecology movement, he developed a philosophical system termed ecosophy. According to Naess, the path to understanding lies in an interconnected set of active processes, which include cognitive and emotive components and involve a widening and maturing of the self, which he termed self-realization!. This chapter examines the building blocks of Naess’ ecosophy and its relevance to process philosophy in organization studies. It also discusses four of his key philosophical insights: self-realization, relationalism, gestalt ontology/perception, and the genesis of the Place-person. The chapter concludes by considering how Naess’ work contributes unique insights to a process theory of organizing.
Marta B. Calás and Linda Smircich
This article makes a long detour by taking multidisciplinary understandings of ‘development’ and ‘technology’ via Ethiopia and Somalia. It discusses several news items that illustrate the current state of organization studies and its prospects. Organization studies might tell postmodernist tales about these news items. For instance, a postmodern story might engage the contemporary discourse about time/space compression to observe that time and space seem to be compressed only on the side of the powerful — for ‘the other’ of this tale appears to inhabit an ever-moving space in which time travels backward. Foucauldian versions might genealogize the discourses and practices of ‘success’ and ‘development’. Or, perhaps, the discourses of globalization could be deconstructed by reading the binaries embedded in ‘Martian microbes waiting to bloom and blow up in our bellies’ through the blooming bellies of African populations whose life expectancy is going backward.
This article examines the contributions of business historians to the analysis of comparative financial systems. It begins with the responses of historical research to questions raised by economists. The article then goes on to highlight new questions raised by the work of business historians themselves. It gives a short presentation of the debates among economists. Furthermore, the article gives a detailed account of five topics in an historical perspective: the role of firms' self-financing, the role of external finance and the structure of its components, the systemic character of cross-national variations, the historical origins of national financial systems, and the consequences of these differences for economic performances. Finally, the article presents a short concluding section that considers the problem of convergence.
Daniel Hjorth and Robin Holt
Baruch Spinoza is rarely read in organization studies and figures in discussions on process philosophy or process thinking only occasionally. However, he becomes a most apposite thinker of organization and process in the context of ethics. Spinoza’s philosophy emphasizes both agency and structure as the active or passive modulation of nature, rather than individual agents in their status as subjects, or on structures as determining constraints. This chapter examines Spinoza’s philosophy based on three basic concepts: substance, mode, and attribute. It also discusses his ideas about God, Nature, ethics of coping, conatus, affect and affective capacity, actorship, and organization.
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.
This article aims to revisit the classical body of theoretical and empirical work on the dynamics of bureaucratic power and control and to reassess its significance for the intellectual renewal and regeneration of contemporary organization studies. First, it examines the strategic sociological, political, and ethical issues that these works were responding to during a historical period of deep-seated structural changes—that is the period between the Great Depression in the 1920s and 1930s and the rise of the ‘corporate state’ between the 1940s and 1960s. Second, it considers the cycle of imaginative reformulations that these modern classics have experienced as the intellectual dominance of structural functionalism and systems theory between the late 1940s and 1960s gave way to the much more theoretically open and contested trajectory that organization studies followed from the 1970s onwards. Third, it evaluates the major theoretical debates that have emerged out of the modern classics and continue to frame the intellectual agenda constitutive of organization studies in the twenty-first century.
Although there is a huge literature relevant to the history of relations between the state and business, this article's emphasis on international comparisons (Western Europe, Japan, and the United States) allows a distinct focus to be given to the analysis. The article draws attention to business as an instrument of the geopolitical strategy of governments and of internal social and political unification, as well as to more traditional ideological differences between countries. As a framework for analysis, geopolitical settings and political structures, as a supplement to ideological issues, shed considerable light on international differences in business–state relations. The article looks at two large land masses, the United States and continental Europe, plus two high-income island economies, Japan and Britain.
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.
Rolv Petter Amdam
In recent years, there has been a steady expansion in the literature on the history of business education. This article presents the main contributions to the existing knowledge of the development of business education internationally. It discusses the developmental path of business education around the world and the emergence of higher business as a phenomenon that occurred in different forms in parallel within major economies. The article characterizes the first decades after the Second World War as a period of Americanization. It has been generally agreed that European business schools were strongly influenced by American role models after the Second World War. The article supports this view; however, it also emphasizes that the concept of “Americanization” most suitably characterizes the relationship between American and Western European business education during the first two decades after the war. It characterizes international business education over the last two decades by globalization and regionalization.
W. Mark Fruin
Business groups and interfirm networks, the subjects of this article, along with cartels, consortia, industrial districts, innovation clusters, joint ventures, strategic alliances, unions, industry, and professional associations, are significant examples of organized cooperation in business. Cooperation has been, and continues to be, a primary force for change in business and in nature. What distinguishes business groups and interfirm networks from other examples of organized cooperation are, first, that they are composed of legally distinct firms and, second, that they persist for long periods of time. Thus, unions and professional associations differ on the first dimension, strategic alliances and joint ventures on the second. Business groups and interfirm networks are long-lasting federations of firms. They have been relatively unsung until lately. Interest has grown of late because business groups are identified as playing crucial roles in economic development, and interfirm networks in innovation, especially when complex coordination problems overwhelm firms.
Geoffrey G. Jones and Asli M. Colpan
This article explores the evolutionary dynamics and organizational characteristics of the diversified business groups built up by the UK-based trading companies from their nineteenth-century origins. It examines firms such as Jardine Matheson and Swire, which remain important components of the Asia Pacific economy into the twenty-first century, and other firms such as Inchcape and the United Africa Company, which were once major regional players. A central theme of this article is to examine how the British trading companies faced the challenge of organizing increasingly complex businesses as they diversified. Furthermore, this article examines the strategies of British trading companies from the late eighteenth century into the twenty-first. It also analyzes the ways that trading companies organized their activities as they diversified in terms of geography and product.
An innovative enterprise develops productive resources to differentiate itself from its rivals, and utilizes the productive resources which it has developed to generate the higher-quality, lower-cost products that are the source of its competitive advantage. Government investments in education and research form indispensable foundations for business investments in innovation. Governments may also seek to ensure that the outcome of innovative enterprise is indeed economic development. This article presents a summary of the “historical experience” that is deemed to be relevant to a theory of innovative enterprise. Given space constraints, it is confined, historically and comparatively, to the cases of Japan and the United States. In conclusion, the article indicates the importance of a theory of innovative enterprise for understanding the role of the state in economic development.
Business history as a specific field was not born inside the historical profession. It first appeared in the United States at Harvard Business School, in 1927. N. S. B. Gras held the first chair in business history. Today business history has indeed become universal. For quite a while, however, and in spite of the initial support from the Annales, the value and methods of business history were questioned by many historians. At the same time, the fact that business history could be taught in departments other than history, mostly business administration and economics, meant that its practitioners could come from these very disciplines and that research and teaching in business history brought them in contact with the trends at work in the historical profession. This article assesses the results of this double process for a field that is steeped in two worlds: inside history and outside history.
Matthias Kipping and Behlül Üsdiken
The purpose of this article is to give an overview of the changing relationship between business history and management studies since the 1950s, with a particular focus on the contributions made by business historians to management research. It also assesses the potential for future collaboration among scholars from the two fields. The article's main argument is that while both were close at the beginning of the period, they subsequently moved apart. Most business historians are working in history or, less frequently, in economic-history departments rather than business schools or management departments. Business historians have their own academic associations, which are not affiliated with the major learned societies in the management field, such as the Academy of Management. The same is true for publications in academic journals, where there has been little crossover.