Abstract

Collaboration in Researching and Teaching the Global History of Capitalism at Oxford

As many in the BHC will know, Rowena Olegario and Chris McKenna have been building an interdisciplinary project in Oxford spanning the business school, history faculty, and a medieval college and spanning research, teaching, and public outreach. We would now like to report on our efforts from the perspective of a co-director (McKenna) and a research assistant (Orr) after more than two years of operations. In teaching, we have built a library of case studies, based on the work of our students (MBAs, Executives, PhDs, and undergraduates) that are taught to these students and bring them into the museums, libraries, businesses, and hospitals across Oxford. Thus the study of management is fused with material culture across historic sites in the context of global business history. Similarly, our doctoral funding crosses disciplinary fields, supporting students in area studies, economics, history, law, and archeology. All students all join Brasenose College, itself a multidisciplinary institution in Oxford. Meanwhile, in our research, the GHoC project supports not only doctoral students but postdoctoral students and pre-doctoral research assistants (cue Becky Orr) who share their research through seminars and conferences and also contribute to building course materials and supporting tutorial teaching. In particular, we will describe our research on “Fidelity Guarantee Insurance” which is supported by an undergraduate who will write a case study on it as part of the undergraduate Business History elective even as Orr and McKenna write an academic version for a journal. Finally, our collaboration has supported the British Academy’s research project on the Future of the Corporation which draws upon global teams of academics and practitioners. All of our work is funded by philanthropy from international donors who view our collaborative framework as incredibly relevant to contemporary debates on capitalism in the modern world. Collaboration at its finest!