Search results

1 – 10 of 79
To view the access options for this content please click here
Article
Publication date: 12 June 2017

Bradley Bowden

Are business outcomes due primarily to entrepreneurial and managerial ability or are they mainly the result of business content? The purpose of this study is to explore…

Abstract

Purpose

Are business outcomes due primarily to entrepreneurial and managerial ability or are they mainly the result of business content? The purpose of this study is to explore this question by comparing the railroads of Victoria and Queensland (Australia) and the South-West and Northern Plains of America between 1881 and 1900. Given the commonalities of the four railway systems in terms of their economic orientation towards rural custom, and their marked difference in terms of ownership, one would expect similarities in their financial circumstances if outcomes were primarily determined by fluctuations in global commodity markets. Conversely, marked differences would be expected if outcomes primarily resulted from managerial initiative.

Design/methodology/approach

Conceptually, this study is informed by the idea that social and economic outcomes are shaped by long historical movements, with meaningful structural change occurring rarely but to great effect. In exploring this concept through a comparison of the railways of Australia and the American West, the study draws on two forms of archival evidence. One source of evidence relates to railroad management, operations and finances. Figures cited come primarily from Australian railway commissioners’ reports and Poor’s Manual of the Railroads of the USA. The other source of evidence relates to agricultural statistics. These are drawn from official reports.

Findings

This study argues that effective strategic decision-making can only occur if we understand the structural changes that alter our world. In the late nineteenth century, the Australian and American railroads servicing newly settled rural regions were financial failures because management failed to appreciate the structural changes that the revolution in steam-powered transport had initiated; a revolution which resulted in commodity prices – and hence, the railway rates for farm produce – being determined by global demand and supply balances rather than by local factors. As a result, they continued a policy of expansion that was no longer financially justified.

Originality/value

This study seeks to contribute to a fundamental debate in historical studies and management about the drivers of social and economic change. Increasingly, there is acceptance of the view that historical circumstances are inherently unstable and what counts is the particular change cascading through a myriad of “events”. This study points in a contrary direction, suggesting that business outcomes are primarily determined by deep structural shifts that can be understood and steered but seldom opposed.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 23 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

To view the access options for this content please click here
Article
Publication date: 8 October 2019

Bradley G. Bowden

The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, it seeks to trace the origins of the various strands of postmodernism within German philosophic idealism; traditions of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, it seeks to trace the origins of the various strands of postmodernism within German philosophic idealism; traditions of thought which placed emphasis – like postmodernism – on a subjective understanding of evidence and a supposed capacity of human consciousness to continually move beyond the bounds imposed by social convention and being; second, this paper states that postmodernism, rooted as it is in philosophic idealism, is methodologically and conceptually constrained. Its emphasis on consciousness and will marginalize its capacity to make meaningful contributions in areas such as economics, and the wider trends in human history.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is theoretical. It seeks to locate conflicting methodologies – most particularly those relating to postmodernism, positivism and philosophical realism – within the traditions of thought that have emerged since the enlightenment.

Findings

Postmodernism is rooted in philosophical idealism. As such, it places emphasis on consciousness, identity and being. The essential problem with postmodernism, this paper argues, is not this emphasis. These are legitimate areas of inquiry. Rather, the central problem with postmodernist-informed research is found in the limited range of methodological and conceptual tools in its kitbag.

Originality/value

Despite the growing influence of postmodernism in its various shades within academia, few of its proponents and critics trace its philosophic origins. In doing so this paper highlights the strengths and limitations of not only postmodernism but also its polar opposite, positivism.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 14 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 11 February 2019

Bradley Bowden

Downloads
220

Abstract

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 25 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Content available
Article
Publication date: 22 March 2021

Bradley Bowden and Jeff Muldoon

Abstract

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 27 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Content available
Article
Publication date: 9 January 2017

Bradley Bowden

Downloads
369

Abstract

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 23 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Content available
Article
Publication date: 30 April 2019

Bradley Bowden

Downloads
208

Abstract

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 25 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Content available
Article
Publication date: 12 June 2017

Bradley Bowden

Downloads
157

Abstract

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 23 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Content available
Article
Publication date: 10 April 2017

Bradley Bowden

Downloads
231

Abstract

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 23 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

To view the access options for this content please click here
Article
Publication date: 5 October 2020

Bradley Bowden and Peta Stevenson-Clarke

Postmodernist ideas – most particularly those of Foucault but also those of Latour, Derrida and Barthes – have had a much longer presence in accounting research than in…

Abstract

Purpose

Postmodernist ideas – most particularly those of Foucault but also those of Latour, Derrida and Barthes – have had a much longer presence in accounting research than in other business disciplines. However, in large part, the debates in accounting history and management history, have moved in parallel but separate universes. The purpose of this study is therefore one of exploring not only critical accounting understandings that are significant for management history but also one of highlighting conceptual flaws that are common to the postmodernist literature in both accounting and management history.

Design/methodology/approach

Foucault has been seminal to the critical traditions that have emerged in both accounting research and management history. In exploring the usage of Foucault’s ideas, this paper argues that an over-reliance on a set of Foucauldian concepts – governmentality, “disciplinary society,” neo-liberalism – that were never conceived with an eye to the problems of accounting and management has resulted in not only in the drawing of some very longbows from Foucault’s formulations but also misrepresentations of the French philosophers’ ideas.

Findings

Many, if not most, of the intellectual positions associated with the “Historic Turn” and ANTi-History – that knowledge is inherently subjective, that management involves exercising power at distance, that history is a social construct that is used to legitimate capitalism and management – were argued in the critical accounting literature long before Clark and Rowlinson’s (2004) oft cited call. Indeed, the “call” for a “New Accounting History” issued by Miller et al. (1991) played a remarkably similar role to that made by Clark and Rowlinson in management and organizational studies more than a decade later.

Originality/value

This is the first study to explore the marked similarities between the critical accounting literature, most particularly that related to the “New Accounting History” and that associated with the “Historic Turn” and ANTi-History in management and organizational studies.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 27 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

To view the access options for this content please click here
Article
Publication date: 27 August 2020

Bradley Bowden

Management history has in the past 15 years witnessed growing enthusiasm for “critical” research methodologies associated with the so-called “historic turn”. This paper…

Abstract

Purpose

Management history has in the past 15 years witnessed growing enthusiasm for “critical” research methodologies associated with the so-called “historic turn”. This paper aims to argue, however, that the “historic turn” has proved to an “historic wrong turn”, typically associated with confused and contradictory positions. In consequence, Foucault’s belief that knowledge is rooted in discourse, and that both are rooted in external structures of power, is used while simultaneously professing advocacy of White’s understanding that history is fictive, the product of the historian’s imagination.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper explores the intellectual roots of the historic (wrong) turn in the idealist philosophies of Nietzsche, Croce, Foucault, White and Latour as well as the critiques that have been made of those theories from within “critical” or “Left” theoretical frameworks.

Findings

Failing to properly acknowledge the historical origin of their ideas and/or the critiques of those ideas – and misrepresenting all contrary opinion as “positivist” – those associated with the historic (wrong) turn replicate the errors of their theoretical champions. The author thus witnesses a confusion of ontology (the nature of being) and epistemology (the nature of knowledge) and, consequently, of “facts” (things that exist independently of our fancy), “evidence” (how ascertain knowledge of a fact) and “interpretation” (how I connect evidence to explain an historical outcome).

Originality/value

Directed toward an examination of the conceptual errors that mark the so-called “historic turn” in management studies, this article argues that the holding contradictory positions is not an accidental by-product of the “historic turn”. Rather, it is a defining characteristic of the genre.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 27 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

1 – 10 of 79