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Article

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 thehistoric 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 thehistoric 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

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Article

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

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 thehistoric-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

Keywords

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Article

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

Keywords

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Article

Rene Arseneault, Nicholous M. Deal and Jean Helms Mills

The purpose of this paper is to answer the question of where the course of the collective efforts in historical research on business and organizations has taken this…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to answer the question of where the course of the collective efforts in historical research on business and organizations has taken this discipline. By raising two key contributions that have sought to reshape the contours of management and organizational history, the authors trace the work of their field since their inception and, in doing so, critique the utility of these typologies as representative of diverse historical knowledge in management and organization studies (MOS).

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on elements of an integrative review that seeks to critically appraise the foundation of knowledge built in a scholarly field, the authors interrogate the historical knowledge that has been (and is being) produced in three leading management and organizational history journals by synthesizing the posture history takes as an object and subject of study in MOS. Over 400 articles were closely examined and categorized using Rowlinson et al.’s (2014) research strategies in organizational history and Maclean et al.’s (2016) four conceptions of history. Then, this research was used to examine the integrity of these two typologies and their practice by management historians.

Findings

The bulk of the work our field has produced mirrors an analytically structured history feel – where “doing history” straddles careful divide between data analysis and narrative construction. Narrating as a conception of history used in organization studies research remains the most subscribed representation of the past. It was found that while some work may fit within these typologies, others especially those considered peripheral of mainstream history are difficult to confine to any one strategy or conception. The authors’ examination also found some potential for a creative synthesis between the two typologies.

Research limitations/implications

Because only three management history journals are used in this analysis, bracketed by the choice of the periodization (between 2016 and 2019 inclusive), this study must not be viewed as being wholly representative of all historical research on business and organizations writ-large.

Practical implications

This research attempts to demonstrate the recent direction management and organizational historians have taken in crafting history. The authors embrace the opportunity to allow for this paper to act as a tool to familiarize a much broader audience to understand what has been constituted as historical research in MOS to-date and is especially useful to those who are already contributing to the field (e.g. doctoral students and junior scholars who have demonstrable interest in taking up historically inspired dissertations, articles, chapters and conference activities).

Originality/value

The research conducted in this article contributes to the debates that have sought to define the scholastic character of management and organizational history. The authors build on recent calls to take part in creating dialogue between and among each other, building on the collective efforts that advance history in both theory and practice.

Details

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

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Article

Gabrielle Durepos and Albert J. Mills

This paper develops and provides insights on how researchers can use ANTi-History with a focus on one of its constitutive facets, relationalism. The purpose of this paper…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper develops and provides insights on how researchers can use ANTi-History with a focus on one of its constitutive facets, relationalism. The purpose of this paper is to, first, develop a central facet of ANTi-History called relationalism and to outline how researchers interested in doing organizational history can use ANTi-History insights to undertake relational histories.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors propose four phases of the historic turn literature and situate ANTi-History and relationalism as an outcome of the fourth phase. The facet of relationalism is then explained and explored through five types of relations that the authors suggest act as sites of oscillation, where the past becomes (an immutable) history.

Findings

A central implication of the paper involves disrupting conceptualizations of the past and history as fixed. Instead, history is explained as a relational outcome of its constitutive social and political relationships.

Originality/value

The paper theoretically develops ANTi-History and relationalism while providing practical implications and tools for researchers to use it. Researchers are introduced to the notion of the site of oscillation. They are encouraged to focus their attention on five sites of oscillation: past-history, actor-network, human-nonhuman, researcher-traces of the past, and historical inscription-reading formation. These sites of oscillation are places where politics is at play and history is shaped or transformed.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 12 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

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Article

Bernardo Batiz-Lazo

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the contributions of the so-called “Historic Turn” in Organization Studies through the attempt by Cummings et al. (2016) to offer…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the contributions of the so-called “Historic Turn” in Organization Studies through the attempt by Cummings et al. (2016) to offer a new and alternative approach to teaching and researching the history of management ideas. A New History of Management is intended to be a provocation rather than a practical plan, and by their own admission, Cummings et al. (2016) prefer controversy to detailed analysis.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper offers a comment and reinterpretation of a single contribution to highlight deficiencies which are symptomatic of the post-modernist research agenda around theHistoric Turn” in Organization Studies. The argument develops through a critical reading of Cummings et al. (2016) to determine whether theirs is a thoughtful and serious piece of work.

Findings

Cummings et al. (2016) invite us to revise and re-evaluate the genesis of management ideas available across textbooks. This by questioning some of the beliefs regarding the origins of management thought within textbooks aimed at both general management and the history of management thought. The premise of Cummings and colleagues is a timely and welcomed suggestion. So is their attempt to broaden the debate to alternative epistemological positions. They can potentially help to improve the emergence of conceptual and theoretical understandings of the history of managers’, business and management thought. Although far from being exhaustive, the paper points to the large number of inconsistencies and poor historiography in Cummings et al. (2016). This is in line with other contributions to the so-called “Historic Turn” in Organization Studies. The central argument presented by this paper is the myopic and technically poor approach of theHistoric Turn”. It is the case that Cummings et al. (2016) fail in their attempt to offer an alternative to established textbooks or explain the development of different approaches to construct systematic studies that, over time, consider the evolution of management, managers and those who have conceptualized their performance.

Research limitations/implications

This paper does not present new (archival) historical evidence.

Originality/value

The central contribution/ambition of this paper is to incentivize an advance of the current understanding of the origins and evolution of systematic thinking on management, managers and business organizations. The ambition of this paper is in line with Cummings et al. (2016) aim to incentivize research into how textbooks address the origins of management and management thought. Textbooks in both general management and the history of management thought, and the story told in them are important tools that speak directly to the ability of historical research to help advance the different disciplines that form general studies in business and management.

Details

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

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Article

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

Thehistoric 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

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

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 theHistoric 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 theHistoric 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

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