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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The historic turn in organization studies has given rise to increasing interest in historical methods. In parallel, the cultural turn in business history is associated with concerns beyond narratives of corporate success or failure. But as yet there has been limited historical research on identities in organizations. This chapter sets out historical methods appropriate for examining identities, focusing on exemplars of ethnographic historical research. Whereas corporate history prizes historical sources such as company board minutes, and organizational identity can be researched from corporate communications such as company magazines, it is more difficult to compile a checklist of historical sources for examining identities in organizations. Historical research on clerks and entrepreneurs illustrates the range of sources that could be considered. However, the focus on such literate groups in society also highlights the problem of survivor bias in sources, which historians describe as the silence of the archives.

Keywords: identity, historic turn, business history, management history, ethnographic history

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