BI Business History seminar - "Whither business history?"

  • Starts:11:30, 31 March 2022
  • Ends:13:00, 31 March 2022
  • Location:BI, Nydalen, meeting room A5I – 172 & Zoom
  • Enrolment deadline:31.03.2022 11:40
  • Contact:Espen Ekberg (espen.ekberg@bi.no)

The Centre for Business history at BI has the pleasure of inviting to an open seminar with professor of Business History at Northumbria University, Newcastle UK, John Wilson. Wilson has a new book out co-edited with Ian G. Jones, Steven Toms, Anna Tilba, Emily Buchnea and Nicholas Wong: Business History: A Research Overview.

The talk will start by assessing the challenges associated with what has come to be known as ‘publish or perish’, namely, the pressures imposed on academics in general to generate publications in highly-rated journals. This issue will also be linked to the specific pressures experienced by business historians working in business schools, along with the associated challenge of journal editors demanding papers that deal primarily with theoretical subjects.

Even though some social scientists have advocated what has come to be known as a ‘historic turn’ in social science thinking, and more recently a ‘historical organisation studies’ school has emerged, business historians continue to struggle to publish in management journals. At the same time, as Alvesson (2021) and others have argued, much of the output published in academic journals has been so theoretical that it has been of very little use in the worlds of practice. This highlights the need for academics to be much more aligned to the needs of practitioners, rather than refining theories that rarely make much of an impact in ‘the real world’.

For business historians, this strategy could well offer a solution to the challenges already outlined, working more closely with the worlds of practice in order to generate greater credibility and produce outputs that make a wider impact. In aligning itself to the needs of practitioners and bringing them more extensively into its activities, business history can contribute effectively to teaching and impact-related work, thereby enhancing both management education and our view of the world as it evolves.