Proposal preview

Business History in the Age of Modern Globalization

For the first time, we can really talk about business history around the WORLD because the focus of this session is on ALL the world’s regions rather than the usual triad (US, Europe, Japan). The intention is to create a framework that will allow scholars to reassess business history in a global world.

Organizer(s)

  • Franco Amatori Bocconi University franco.amatori@unibocconi.it Italy
  • Geoffrey Jones Harvard Business School gjones@hbs.edu USA
  • Andrea Colli Bocconi University andrea.colli@unibocconi.it Italy

Session members

  • Walter Friedman, Harvard Business School
  • Albert Carreras, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
  • Andrea Lluch, National Scientific and Research Council, Buenos Aires
  • Carlos Davila, University de Los Andos
  • Martin Shanahan, University of South Australia
  • Grietjie Verhoef, University of Johannesburg
  • Takafumi Kurosawa, Kyoto University
  • Valentina Fava, Institute for Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences
  • Umit Ozlale, Ozyegin University

Discussant(s)

  • Louis Galambos Johns Hopkins University galambos@jhu.edu

Papers

Panel abstract

In this session, for the first time business history will be considered in a global way. Previously business history was typically analyzed on the basis of the triad: US, Europe, Japan (see Business History around the World, CUP, 2003). While in the CUP volume of 2003 seven contributions dealt with Europe, the current project will have just one. More attention will be given to business history in Russia, India, China, Latin America, Oceania, and Africa in addition to Japan and South Korea. The period we examine goes from the beginning of the 21st century to current times. It intertwines historiography and history. Each case deals with institutions and culture, forms of enterprise (especially groups), performances, entrepreneurship and eventually issues specific to that region. Possibly the most important evolution seen is that Business History seems to be moving to a history of capitalism.

1st half

North America: an Age of Crisis in Business History

Walter A. Friedman

This paper will assess contributions to the business history of North America – especially the United States and Canada – written over the past several decades. Some of these studies have sought to overturn dominant narratives, especially those of Alfred Chandler, by reassessing the role of family business, the place of large corporations in economic growth, and ideas about corporate governance. The article will also look at new directions in the field, including those that have pursued themes of capitalism, innovation, and democracy. In addition, this article will describe new comparative studies of the evolution of business systems in the U.S. and Canada, especially in light of the recent financial crisis.

This paper will assess contributions to the business history of North America – especially the United States and Canada – written over the past several decades. Some of these studies have sought to overturn dominant narratives, especially those of Alfred Chandler, by reassessing the role of family business, the place of large corporations in economic growth, and ideas about corporate governance. The article will also look at new directions in the field, including those that have pursued themes of capitalism, innovation, and democracy. In addition, this article will describe new comparative studies of the evolution of business systems in the U.S. and Canada, especially in light of the recent financial crisis.

Business History in Europe

Albert Carreras

The paper will provide an overview of the major developments and main themes of business history in various European countries with the exception of Russia. Building from the work done for Business History around the World (2003) where Europe was analyzed in seven chapters, I will reassess major contributions (in quantity and quality) of what has been written and what has changed in European business history as well as which new issues, including globalization, have transformed European business history, i.e., continuity and change. Major attention will be paid to developments and themes that are common to all the countries under review (respecting national variations), stressing the commonalities more than the differences, and looking for potentially suggestive differences between developments and themes both in and outside Europe.

The paper will provide an overview of the major developments and main themes of business history in various European countries with the exception of Russia. Building from the work done for Business History around the World (2003) where Europe was analyzed in seven chapters, I will reassess major contributions (in quantity and quality) of what has been written and what has changed in European business history as well as which new issues, including globalization, have transformed European business history, i.e., continuity and change. Major attention will be paid to developments and themes that are common to all the countries under review (respecting national variations), stressing the commonalities more than the differences, and looking for potentially suggestive differences between developments and themes both in and outside Europe.

Divergence in a Regional Homogeneity: Japanese and Korean Business History in the Context of Globalization

Takafumi Kurosawa, Young-Ryeol Park

Japanese and Korean firms are similarly positioned in the globalized economy; both are known for their strong competitiveness in steel, shipbuilding, automobile and electronics industries. Firms of the two nations are connected not only by rivalry, but also by interdependence, shared historical root, and similar features in their businesses systems. However, systematic review of the recent studies in both nations and historiographical analyses of literature reveal significant contrasts between them. In Japan, war economy, occupation, “lost-decades” since 1990 and the globalization led to the demise of its large-scale family business groups. In Korea, by contrast, economic catch-up, reorganization after 1997 and the globalization bolstered their positions. This divergence shows a sharp contrast with other aspects including entrepreneurship and innovation, where convergence/similarity between the two is conspicuous. Globalization may intensify integrity and homogeneity in a region, but historical contingency and path dependency may reverse its effect and lead to divergence.

Japanese and Korean firms are similarly positioned in the globalized economy; both are known for their strong competitiveness in steel, shipbuilding, automobile and electronics industries. Firms of the two nations are connected not only by rivalry, but also by interdependence, shared historical root, and similar features in their businesses systems. However, systematic review of the recent studies in both nations and historiographical analyses of literature reveal significant contrasts between them. In Japan, war economy, occupation, “lost-decades” since 1990 and the globalization led to the demise of its large-scale family business groups. In Korea, by contrast, economic catch-up, reorganization after 1997 and the globalization bolstered their positions. This divergence shows a sharp contrast with other aspects including entrepreneurship and innovation, where convergence/similarity between the two is conspicuous. Globalization may intensify integrity and homogeneity in a region, but historical contingency and path dependency may reverse its effect and lead to divergence.

Business History in Latin America: Current Debates and New Directions

Carlos Davila, Andrea Lluch

A key idea of this paper/chapter is that the historical experience of Latin American business can offer new and rich evidence for the broadening of scope of the business history discipline. It may play an important role in what in recent methodological debates has been called the “alternative business history of emerging markets”. In fact, the business experience of the diverse, complex historical experiences of Latin American emerging markets cannot be understood without studying the characteristics and performance not only of foreign firms but other economic actors and organizational forms. That is, to focus on units of analysis and themes related to entrepreneurs, business groups and entrepreneurial families that have existed in politicized markets wherein institutional turbulence and macroeconomic instability have been prevalent from the end of the nineteenth century until the beginning of the twenty-first century. This paper is supported on a growing business historiography whose underpinnings are broad,...

A key idea of this paper/chapter is that the historical experience of Latin American business can offer new and rich evidence for the broadening of scope of the business history discipline. It may play an important role in what in recent methodological debates has been called the “alternative business history of emerging markets”. In fact, the business experience of the diverse, complex historical experiences of Latin American emerging markets cannot be understood without studying the characteristics and performance not only of foreign firms but other economic actors and organizational forms. That is, to focus on units of analysis and themes related to entrepreneurs, business groups and entrepreneurial families that have existed in politicized markets wherein institutional turbulence and macroeconomic instability have been prevalent from the end of the nineteenth century until the beginning of the twenty-first century. This paper is supported on a growing business historiography whose underpinnings are broad, and may provide room for new conceptual and methodological advances in the field.

2nd half

Africa is open for business- what kind of business, where and by whom?

Grietjie Verhoef

Africa has been the location of centuries of business activity. Business displays a complex development path through early indigenous kingdoms, colonial control and post-1950 independence. The historiography on these developments is unbalance in favour of the role performed by enterprises embedded in the capitalist metropolitan economies of European nations. As market liberalisation stimulated African entrepreneurship, businesses emerged to complement foreign-owned enterprise. As globalisation brought multi-national companies to African markets, competition and collaboration developed. This paper analyses the trends in Business History from the perspective of African business, owned by Africans from different ethnic entities as proof of the complexities if the variety of capitalism in Africa. In a first survey of the historiography on African business, this paper explores discontinuity and progress in African enterprise as reflected in history. The question of a distinct ‘African’ nature of enterprise is considered, especially against the background of emerging multi-national enterprise from Africa.

Africa has been the location of centuries of business activity. Business displays a complex development path through early indigenous kingdoms, colonial control and post-1950 independence. The historiography on these developments is unbalance in favour of the role performed by enterprises embedded in the capitalist metropolitan economies of European nations. As market liberalisation stimulated African entrepreneurship, businesses emerged to complement foreign-owned enterprise. As globalisation brought multi-national companies to African markets, competition and collaboration developed. This paper analyses the trends in Business History from the perspective of African business, owned by Africans from different ethnic entities as proof of the complexities if the variety of capitalism in Africa. In a first survey of the historiography on African business, this paper explores discontinuity and progress in African enterprise as reflected in history. The question of a distinct ‘African’ nature of enterprise is considered, especially against the background of emerging multi-national enterprise from Africa.

Far Away across the Waves: Business History in Oceania

Martin Shanahan

Business history in Oceania is a comparatively rare commodity. The region’s position at the periphery of modern industrial development, combined with scatterings of comparatively small populations, late economic development and dependence on agriculture, combined with colonial pasts, has seen a paucity of business history research undertaken to date. Of the nations in Oceania, Australia and New Zealand are the most well represented in the literature, while enterprises from the smaller islands in the South Pacific are mostly over-looked. The intersection of business, colonialism and labour exploitation over the past two centuries is an important area of research. As with the southern Pacific region generally, much remains unexplored.

Business history in Oceania is a comparatively rare commodity. The region’s position at the periphery of modern industrial development, combined with scatterings of comparatively small populations, late economic development and dependence on agriculture, combined with colonial pasts, has seen a paucity of business history research undertaken to date. Of the nations in Oceania, Australia and New Zealand are the most well represented in the literature, while enterprises from the smaller islands in the South Pacific are mostly over-looked. The intersection of business, colonialism and labour exploitation over the past two centuries is an important area of research. As with the southern Pacific region generally, much remains unexplored.

The Blurring Borders of Russian Business History: A Survey of Recent Research

Valentina Fava, Aksana Yarashynskaya

The paper provides an overview of the most recent debate on business history in Russia. The paper is structured in three parts: the first part describes the institutional structure and development of Russian business history as an academic discipline. The second part analyses in greater detail how Russian scholars have answered the methodological challenges and research questions posed by “Western” literature regarding both pre-Revolutionary and Soviet Russia. It emphasizes how research on business history has been driven by a need both to find the origins of the transformation Russian business since the collapse of the Soviet Union and to make sense of it, and by a need to provide a framework to understanding the current organization of Russian business. The last part of the paper provides an outline of recent literature on the rise and decline of the oligarchs’ businesses in post-Soviet Russia.

The paper provides an overview of the most recent debate on business history in Russia. The paper is structured in three parts: the first part describes the institutional structure and development of Russian business history as an academic discipline. The second part analyses in greater detail how Russian scholars have answered the methodological challenges and research questions posed by “Western” literature regarding both pre-Revolutionary and Soviet Russia. It emphasizes how research on business history has been driven by a need both to find the origins of the transformation Russian business since the collapse of the Soviet Union and to make sense of it, and by a need to provide a framework to understanding the current organization of Russian business. The last part of the paper provides an outline of recent literature on the rise and decline of the oligarchs’ businesses in post-Soviet Russia.

Interaction between politics and business: recent business history of Turkey in the globalization period

Umit Ozlale, H. Ekrem Cunedioglu

We analyze the brief globalization period of Turkey from a standpoint of interaction between politics and the business organizations since the business history of the Turkish economy cannot be fully understood without analyzing the political dynamics between the State and the business enterprises and organizations. After dividing the globalization period into sub-episodes, we show that politics and business are interlinked with a changing pattern over time, where we observe a structural transformation in the government-business ecosystem, especially after 2001.

We analyze the brief globalization period of Turkey from a standpoint of interaction between politics and the business organizations since the business history of the Turkish economy cannot be fully understood without analyzing the political dynamics between the State and the business enterprises and organizations. After dividing the globalization period into sub-episodes, we show that politics and business are interlinked with a changing pattern over time, where we observe a structural transformation in the government-business ecosystem, especially after 2001.