Business History seminar – “Some Concepts and Applications for Business History and Business Education More Broadly"

Daniel Raff (Wharton School of Management): “Some Concepts and Applications for ‘Business History Among the Social Sciences’ and for Business Education More Broadly”

  • Starts:11:30, 2 March 2023
  • Ends:13:00, 2 March 2023
  • Location:BI - Campus Oslo and Zoom
  • Contact:Espen Ekberg (espen.ekberg@bi.no)


This paper represents a sustained attempt to clarify and relate a group of concepts commonly assumed (and often actually deployed) in management academia and historical research, especially research in either category amounting to the history of organizations. The concepts are analysis, causation, explanation, agency (of individuals and in the context of formal organizations), and those of a causal order and of causal ordering.

The paper’s most important conclusions are that statistical analysis represents a very modest portion of the domain of analysis. That an extended version of the possible worlds semantics deriving from modal logic is helpful in understanding causation and that thorough explanations include answers to “How?” questions as well as “Why?” questions. That the agency of individuals is to be understood in terms of processes rather than mere actions and that in the context of all of the preceding the Nelson-Winter and Feldman-Pentland notions of organizational routines are not as remote from one another as is sometimes thought. And finally that ex ante causal indeterminacy is the most helpful assumption concerning the background causal order when exploring both strategic decision-making and organizational development and evolution. A concluding Section explores the import of the preceding for business education.