Abstract: Media Influence in Corporate Organizational Processes: Business History Contributions to the Debate?

Laura M. Milanes-Reyes


This paper, grounded in a sociological perspective, explores business historians' conceptualizations of the role of the media (or lack of) in organizational processes. It examines cases of U.S. corporations in the period 1980s-2000s, appearing in two leading journals over the last thirty years. The analysis indicates that media influence has not been sufficiently studied and conceptualized. The existent approaches are grouped in two ideal-type categories: studies that are more standard and do not consider media relevant, and studies that are more culturally oriented. In the latter, the role of the media is salient though not always explicitly theorized: Media demonstrates, and may catalyze, distinct actors' influences on corporate organizational process and (or) is an actor on its own. Two conclusions follow: First, studies are fragmented: neglecting or privileging meaning-making processes. Second, studies that fail to recognize societal and local orders' meaning patterns not only are not attaining a comprehensive understanding of business but also are exposed to risks, such as unwittingly importing meaning into their analyses. These conclusions are supported by in-depth analysis of the articles, from which examples are drawn. Bridging this gap would be fruitful for both categories of studies. An example combining both approaches is shown.