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Chronologies, Periods and Events in Management and Business History

Special issue call for papers from Journal of Management History

Chronologies, Periods and Events in Management and Business History

The study of history is defined by the western perception of time, which necessitates chronology, and an implicit understanding that the state of the world is constantly changing and evolving, irrevocably. Rowlinson, Hassard and Decker (2014) highlight the peculiar role that chronology plays in history – for historians it is not just that events follow each other, but that they have a distinct social and economic context without which they cannot be easily understood. Further, in practical terms one research agenda is unlikely to be able to deal concisely with the totality of history. This encourages the convenient bookending of history into manageable chunks, known as periods (Jordanova, 2006).  These periods may simply relate to a convenient chunk of time, such as a century or particular decade, but for analytical purposes they are likely to be characterised by incremental change yet at the same time a particular structural or institutional continuity, such as ‘the long nineteenth century’ (Hobsbawm, 1962, 1975, 1987) running from 1789-1914 (or 1918), the French Revolution being seen as the point at which the Ancient Regime was decisively challenged, and bookended by the First World War. Management and business histories, which do not always relate directly to political history often appropriate these chunks of time in which institutional stability may be observed. Further, histories are often presented as periods running between two particular crises or change points which act as bookends. But yet this approach surely discourages us from actually focusing upon the change points themselves, which could be a revealing use of history for scholars interested in fields where adversity is important, such as change management, strategic management, and entrepreneurship?

Such change points are often defined by exogenous political, social, economic, technological, cultural, legal or even environmental changes.  They are often further defined by their particular temporal and spatial dimensions – they may be as short as 1-2 years or even a few months, yet may also run to as many as 5-6 years or more, and they might be confined to one particular geographical area, city, country, continent, sphere of influence, or even encompass the whole world. They may include all encompassing events such as military conflicts – particularly the First and Second World wars, but perhaps also periods of diplomatic conflict, such as the start and end of the Cold War.  They may alternatively be major economic shocks, such as the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Oil Crisis of 1973-4, or the Sub-Prime crisis of 2007-8. Periods of rapid socio-economic change may also be turning points – the British 1960s, for instance saw the abolition of Resale Price Maintenance in 1964 (Tennent, 2013), before the introduction of Corporation Tax in 1965 (Mollan and Tennent, 2015), the Sterling crisis of 1966-67 (Schenk, 2010), and a programme of government sponsored economic modernisation designed to encourage industrial development (Owen, 1999); all of these things together wrought major changes to the business environment.  This is even before considering the impact of social-cultural change, such as the creation of the teenager as a distinct category and falling birthrates (Marwick, 1998).  Arguably, these changes hastened the end of gentlemanly capitalism and ushered in a new, more consumerist yet managerially aware era in which the post-war consensus between management and labour started to break down.  Such exogenous change points, which may be characterised as ‘revolutions’, often see several events take place together which undermine established cultures or routines within business and management encouraging or perhaps even forcing a managed response.

In this Special Issue of the Journal of Management History we encourage contributions studying the impact of such change points. Themes may include, but are not limited to:

•    Theoretical or historiographical consideration of the issues of periodization and change in management and business history
•    Empirical investigation of particular change points in time and space with regard to their significance to management or business
•    The nature of change itself in management or business history
•    The relationships between endogenous and exogenous factors in creating change
•    Industry level studies evaluating the response of actors in particular industries to exogenous change
•    Consideration of the impact of change points upon the viability of particular business models
•    The impact of change points upon managerial practice or for the teaching of management studies
•    The long term impact of particular change points for business and management

Time Scale:
Papers first presented: July 2016
Pre-submission review: December-January 2016/17
Submission: April 2017
Revisions: by end of July 2017

Submit via the ScholarOne submission system at:

Contact Guest Editor Kevin Tennent ( [email protected] ) with pertinent questions or concerns.

Hobsbawm, E. J., The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, (1962).
Hobsbawm, E. J., The Age of Capital: 1848-1875, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, (1975).
Hobsbawm, E. J., The Age of Empire: 1875-1914, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, (1987).
Hobsbawm, E. J., The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, (1962).
Jordanova, L. J., History in Practice, Bloomsbury, London, (2006)
Marwick, Arthur, The Sixties: Cultural Revolution in Britian, France, Italy and the United States, c. 1958-c. 1974, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1998
Mollan, Simon, and Kevin D. Tennent. "International taxation and corporate strategy: evidence from British overseas business, circa 1900–1965."Business History 57, no. 7 (2015): 1054-1081.
Owen, Geoffrey, From Empire to Europe: The Decline and Revival of British Industry Since the Second World War, HarperCollins, London (1999).
Rowlinson, Michael, John Hassard, and Stephanie Decker. "Research strategies for organizational history: A dialogue between historical theory and organization theory." Academy of Management Review 39, no. 3 (2014): 250-274.
Schenk, Catherine R., The Decline of Sterling: Managing the Retreat of an International Currency, 1945-1992, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2010).
Tennent, Kevin D. "A distribution revolution: Changes in music distribution in the UK 1950–76." Business History 55, no. 3 (2013): 327-347.
6 high quality papers to be included, full peer review to be guided by Kevin Tennent and Bradley Bowden.