Abstract: New Business Histories! Plurality in Business History Research Methods

Stephanie Decker, R Daniel Wadhwani, Matthias Kipping


This paper is freely available from the publisher's website until June 2015: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/fbsh20/57/1 

We agree with de Jong et al.'s argument that business historians should make their methods more explicit and welcome a more general debate about the most appropriate methods for business historical research. But rather than advocating one ‘new business history’, we argue that contemporary debates about methodology in business history need greater appreciation for the diversity of approaches that have developed in the last decade. And while the hypothesis-testing framework prevalent in the mainstream social sciences favoured by de Jong et al. should have its place among these methodologies, we identify a number of additional streams of research that can legitimately claim to have contributed novel methodological insights by broadening the range of interpretative and qualitative approaches to business history. Thus, we reject privileging a single method, whatever it may be, and argue instead in favour of recognising the plurality of methods being developed and used by business historians – both within their own field and as a basis for interactions with others.