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Long Trends in Management History

Special issue call for papers from Journal of Management History

Long Trends in Management History

The rise of “postmodernist” paradigms in management studies has seen an increasing emphasis on the unique, the peculiar and the transitory. This stands in contrast to the traditional emphasis in economic history, which has emphasised the cyclical nature of business activity. Both Nikolai Kondratiev and Joseph Schumpeter arguing that capitalist development is characterised by “long waves”, in which periods of sustained growth are succeeded by long years of stagnation. In sociology, Max Weber and Talcott Parsons both pointed to the underlying structural stability of both businesses and societies as a whole.

In business history, the emphasis on the underlying importance of structural trends – rather than individual trends – informs Alfred D. Chandler’s classic, The Visible Hand. The rise of American business enterprise, Chandler argued, stemmed in the first instance from a structural shift in production and transport.  “The almost simultaneous availability of an abundant new form of energy” [i.e. the high carbon coals of the Appalachians] “and revolutionary new means of transportation and communication”, Chandler (1977: 78) argues, were the key structural factors that “led to the rise of modern business enterprise in American commerce and industry”. Similarly, in history the French Annals School (Marc Bloch, Lucien Febvre and Fernard Braudel) emphasised the underlying permanence of social structures and cultural values, even during periods of rapid political change.

In recent historiography, it is Braudel’s concept of the Longue Duree that has been most influential. In Braudel’s opinion we must learn to “distrust” the short-term political, economic and social “events” that typically capture the popular imagination. These are, Braudel argues (1975: 21), mere “surface disturbances, crests of foam that the tides of history carry on their strong backs”. Instead, we need to pay greater attention to the underlying structures of society. Braudel (1975: 678) was particularly critical of both Marx’s and Schumpeter’s conception of history due to the tendency of both to see history solely through the prism of the rise of capitalism, in which” Everything else in politics or economics is merely a matter of accident, circumstance, chance or detail.’ In Braudel’s view the rise of the modern state and its attendant bureaucracy from the 16th century represented a structural change to the nature of Western society that was at least as important as capitalism’s rise.

In exploring the long trends in management history, JMH is looking for empirically-based but theoretically-engaged analyses of businesses, social institutions (including religious and political bodies), national and regional economies and societies and social and ethnic groups that explore either their inherent stability or instability.  It should be noted that this special issue is looking at institutions and societies, not individual theorists, schools of theorists or bodies of academic literature.

The deadline for submissions to this Special Edition is 30 November 2017.

Submissions to Journal of Management History are made through ScholarOne Manuscripts, the online submission and peer review system. Registration and access is available at

Authors with questions about contributing this special edition should contact Guest Editor Professor Kayta Rost (University of Zurich) at: [email protected]

Braudel, F. (1975) The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, Harper Torchbooks, New York, NY.
Chandler, A.D.Jr., The Visible Hand: the Managerial Revolution in American Business, Belknap Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Schumpeter, J. (1939), Business Cycles: a Theoretical, Historical, and Statistical Analysis of the Capitalist Process, Martino Publications, Mansfield Centre, Conn.