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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

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Article
Publication date: 20 October 2020

Nicholous M. Deal, Milorad M. Novicevic, Albert J. Mills, Caleb W. Lugar and Foster Roberts

This paper aims to find common ground between the supposed incompatible meta-historical positioning of positivism and post-positivism through a turn to mnemohistory in…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to find common ground between the supposed incompatible meta-historical positioning of positivism and post-positivism through a turn to mnemohistory in management and organizational history.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on the idea of creative synthesis and positioning theory, the authors interject concepts from cultural memory studies in historical research on business and organizations to encourage management historians and organization theorists interested in joining the dialogue around how the past is known in the present. Using notions of “aftermath” and “events,” the idea of apositivism is written into historical organization studies to focus on understanding the complex ways of how past events translate into history. The critical historic turn event is raised as an exemplar of these ideas.

Findings

The overview of the emergence of the controversial historic turn in management and organization studies and the positioning of its adherents and antagonists revealed that there may be some commonality between the fragmented sense of the field. It was revealed that effective history vis-à-vis mnemohistory may hold the potential of a shared scholarly ethic.

Originality/value

The research builds on recent work that has sought to bring together the boundaries of management and organizational history. This paper explains how mnemohistory can offer a common position that is instrumental for theorizing the relationships among the past-infused constructs such as organizational heritage, legacy and identity.

Details

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

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 11 November 2019

Wim Van Lent and Gabrielle Durepos

This paper aims to explore the turn in management and organization studies (MOS) and reflect on “history as theory” versus “history as method”.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the turn in management and organization studies (MOS) and reflect on “history as theory” versus “history as method”.

Design/methodology/approach

Looking at previous research and the evolution of MOS, this paper situates the special issue papers in the current climate of this area of research.

Findings

The special issue papers included here each make a theoretical contribution to methodology in historical organization studies.

Originality/value

The eight articles featured in the special issue offer examples of innovative and historically sensitive methodology that, according to the authors, increase the management historian toolkit and ultimately enhance the methodological pluralism of historical organization studies as a field.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 25 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

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Article
Publication date: 21 November 2019

Simon Mollan

The purpose of this paper is to explore issues related to a recent article by Bradley Bowden published in QROM titled “Empiricism, and modern postmodernism: a critique”…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore issues related to a recent article by Bradley Bowden published in QROM titled “Empiricism, and modern postmodernism: a critique”. The argument presented here is that antagonism between different sub-communities undertaking work related to the “historic-turn” in management and organization studies (MOS) should give way to greater acceptance of different “phenomenal” concerns and different methods of research.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based on a critical reading and interpretation of relevant texts. This paper critiques recent work by Bradley Bowden. These are then used as a starting point for a discussion of the different ways in which historical research is practiced in MOS.

Findings

The central interpretation developed is that despite many strengths, there are both interpretative and argumentational limitations to Bowden’s criticism that the historic-turn in MOS is postmodernist in nature. In pointing to the varieties of historical research and interpretation in the field, this paper calls for greater and more sympathetic understanding between the different related sub-fields that are interested in history in relation to management and organization.

Research limitations/implications

This paper concludes by calling for more historical work that deals with historiographical and theoretical issues, rather than a continuation of methodological debates that focus on antagonisms between different methods of undertaking historical research to the exclusion of advancing the creation of new historical knowledge, however constructed.

Originality/value

This paper articulates a pluralistic and ecumenical vision for historical research in relation to management and organization. The primary contribution is therefore to attempt to dissolve the seeming assumption of dialectical antagonism between different but related sub-communities of practice.

Details

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

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Article
Publication date: 12 June 2017

Peter Secord and Lawrence T. Corrigan

The purpose of this paper is to theorize the social role of management systems and their political connections using ANTi-History. In so doing, it engages with academic…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to theorize the social role of management systems and their political connections using ANTi-History. In so doing, it engages with academic conversations around the writing of business history. The paper focuses on subjective experience in the context of colonial privateers and the vice-admiralty court in the Napoleonic Wars era.

Design/methodology/approach

ANTi-History is proposed as a theoretical lens to examine the entrepreneurial work of privateers. ANTi-History destabilizes the idea of history as a dominant account of the past and is interested in controversies as to how history is produced. This paper also brings-in Bourdieu’s notion of officialization because historical knowledge is situated in official practices that conceal translations and political strategies that enable actor-networks to act as one.

Findings

The controls of the vice-admiralty court not only perpetuated the inherited British class system, but also created versions of reality that came to be accepted as recorded history. This shows that the rules and regulations of the court were not neutral accounting activities. The systems constituted the identity of actors and produced privateer history as a modernist knowledge of the past and officialized by western, white, male, elites.

Originality/value

The “historic turn” in management and organization studies has not been fully realized more than a decade after its introduction. This paper engages with the historic turn by providing a specific exemplar of history as applied to officialized accounts of colonial privateers. Using ANTi-History as a methodological approach also makes a contribution by promoting it beyond a prolonged descriptive phase.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 12 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

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Article
Publication date: 4 October 2018

Amon Barros, Adéle de Toledo Carneiro and Sergio Wanderley

The purpose of this paper is to present the role of reflexivity in relation to archives and narratives.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present the role of reflexivity in relation to archives and narratives.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors problematize the concept of “archive,” by engaging with debates in philosophy and the archival theory. The authors also revisit historical theories and debates on the role of the narrative within historiography. Finally, the authors consider reflexivity as a methodological attitude taken by the researcher at all stages of the investigation from challenging theoretical assumptions of empirical materials to questioning the very narrative that is created when looking for alternative ones.

Findings

This paper poses questions about documents and archives that emerge from reflexivity. The authors claim that reflexivity is an ethos that allows researchers to keep the multiple narratives in which they are entangled in check. The paper brings a framework that allows researchers to use reflexivity to become more conscious of the complexities and ambiguities within the research process that leads to the writing of historical narratives.

Research limitations/implications

This paper points to the need to enhance the reflexivity at every stage of the research, including “interrogating” the archives and documents, which are compiled under a narrative.

Practical implications

The authors highlighted the multiple characteristics of archives, their meanings and the possibilities of writing narratives about them through reflexivity. The authors have the historical narrative as one possible reconstruction of a historical object, which is connected to the production conditions of the text. Through reflexivity, the authors discussed the socially constructed nature of the documents and the archives. Finally, the authors believe that debates around the production of this knowledge should continue, focusing especially on building bridges with the field of history.

Social implications

Historical narratives do not depend on the scientific character of historical sources, but it considers reflexivity by the researcher regarding the search, collection, reading and analysis of historical documents. In addition, it is necessary to think about the use of documents and archives and histories in a reflective way for a writing of history and, indirectly, for a contextual understanding of the time observed and as forged sources – or discarded – and made available.

Originality/value

Challenging the use of documents and archives in a reflexive way for the writing of historical narratives and for contextual understanding of the past is key to a richer relationship between management and history. This paper points to the role of reflexivity in relation to archives and narratives in the practice of (re)constructing the organizational past from memories and silences. It also highlights how reflexivity can be incorporated in the research process to enrich the writing of the historical narrative.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 14 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

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Article
Publication date: 11 November 2019

Renata Guimarães Quelha de Sá and Alessandra de Sá Mello da Costa

This paper aims to discuss the constitution of the Memorial of Resistance of São Paulo (MRSP) by adopting the ANTi-History approach, thereby providing greater transparency…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to discuss the constitution of the Memorial of Resistance of São Paulo (MRSP) by adopting the ANTi-History approach, thereby providing greater transparency to the socio-political relations of multiple actors involved in the constitution of this place as a site of memory.

Design/methodology/approach

By adopting the principles of ANTi-History, the researchers focused on the socio-politics of different human and nonhuman actors to examine how this site of memory was constituted. The researchers sought to turn the process of constituting the MRSP more transparent, putting together one of the possible historical versions of this phenomenon. The data collected included oral and documental sources (interviews, videos, books, newspapers and websites).

Findings

The findings support the notion of history as a socially constructed narrative that emerges through associations of heterogeneous actors in a dynamic and continuous process of (re)configuration. Additionally, by exposing the power relations and negotiations manoeuvres used by multiple actors, it allowed the researchers to highlight the complexity of the Memorial’s history as a black box, contextualizing them in a period of intense social upheaval, re-democratization and transitional justice within Brazilian society.

Originality/value

The paper outlines the process of listing the DEOPS/SP building and the social mobilization movements during the 1980s and 1990s in Brazil, illustrating some of the results obtained from a more extensive research project that dealt with the MRSP’s constitution process. It offers an in-depth example of using the ANTi-History approach in Organizational Studies, allowing the researchers to remove the organization’s veil of apparent simplicity and to bring back to life voices and actors that have been erased, disguised and silenced by the dominant version of events.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 25 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

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Article
Publication date: 5 September 2020

Jeff Muldoon

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the debate initiated by the “historic turn.” This debate has seen several rebuttals of the methodologies and conceptual…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the debate initiated by the “historic turn.” This debate has seen several rebuttals of the methodologies and conceptual frameworks advocated by proponents of the “historic turn” including ANTi-History. In contributing to this debate, this paper provides a discussion on some of the ongoing debates within the field. The purpose is to neither condemn nor defend – but to clarify and find points of agreement.

Design/methodology/approach

The design implied is an overview of some of the themes in the field – locating key concepts of agreement and key aspects of disagreement.

Findings

There is a middle ground between the two schools. One is a continued focus on primary sources, the use of new methodologies, understanding context and some new approaches. We must carefully consider context and text and limit the use of concepts that have real limitations.

Originality/value

This is an overview of the field by someone who was considered a critic of the new history. The purpose is to find middle ground.

Details

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

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Article
Publication date: 13 February 2009

Olof Brunninge

This paper aims to explore how organizational actors make reference to history and how they use historical reference purposefully in order to affect strategy‐making.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore how organizational actors make reference to history and how they use historical reference purposefully in order to affect strategy‐making.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on in‐depth case studies on two Swedish MNCs. Data have been collected through 79 interviews as well as participant observation and archival studies.

Findings

Organizational actors purposefully construct and use history in order to establish continuity in strategy processes. The use of historical references legitimizes or delegitimizes specific strategic options.

Research limitations/implications

Two old firms with a clear interest in organizational history have been studied. Future research on additional companies, including young firms and firms with less interest in history, is needed.

Practical implications

The purposeful use of history can be a powerful tool for managers to influence organizational change processes.

Originality/value

Very little research on the use of history in business organizations has so far been done. In an interdisciplinary manner the paper introduces concepts from research in history to management research. Based on two rich case studies the paper contributes by outlining what role different uses of history play in strategic and organizational change.

Details

Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 22 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 15 July 2019

David Coghlan, Abraham B. (Rami) Shani and George W. Hay

This chapter informs current research and practice in organization development and change (ODC) with an actionable knowledge of the social science philosophies. It adds…

Abstract

This chapter informs current research and practice in organization development and change (ODC) with an actionable knowledge of the social science philosophies. It adds value to the scholarship of ODC by charting the progression of philosophies of social science, by showing how researchers in ODC structure their inquiry based on the inherent philosophical dimensions, and by offering useful and actionable knowledge for research and practice. The aim of the chapter is to reflect on the practice of ODC as a social science and to consolidate its social science philosophies so to provide solid philosophical and methodological foundations for the field.

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