Abstracts of Annual Meeting Papers

Annual Meeting Author(s) Title Abstract
2016 BHC Meeting Kris Alexanderson Imperial Businesses and the Interwar Struggle for Empire: Reflections from the Dutch Maritime World

During the two decades after World War I, Dutch shipping companies and the colonial government collaborated in global policing and surveillance projects in an attempt to control their transoceanic empire and maintain imperial hegemony beyond the colony’s terrestrial borders.  This paper reveals how shipping businesses were vital not only to the economic and logistic prosperity of Dutch empire, but also for protecting it against both foreign and indigenous socio-cultural threats to Dutch authority.  Interwar Dutch shipping companies have largely escaped critical analyses over the ways colonial culture influenced their business decisions, but this paper shows the same fears and paranoia felt by colonial administrators during the 1920s and 30s were shared by European multinational corporations.  Working from numerous Dutch shipping company archives, this paper supplements our extensive knowledge of the British Empire with a previously unexplored and unique component of twentieth-century imperial business history.

2016 BHC Meeting Orville R Butler Reinterpreting the Washing Machine Industry in Nineteenth Cetury America

Historians have traditionallyportrayed washing machines as a late nineteenth century phenomenon when industrialized factories like Blackstone, Manufacturing and Benbow Brammer began large scale production of washing machines after around in the mid to late 1870s.  According to this history the washing machine industry took off in the early twentieth century with the development of electrical power washing machines. Prior to this late nineteenth century development according to this history cothes were washed on rocks, or scrubbed on a scrubboard.

Surveys of about 50,000 newspaper pages from 1790 to 1900 and searches for washing machine and clothes washer in the Library of Congress newspaper archive, newspaper archive.com and GeneologyBank.com show that an active washing machine industry existed in America as early as 1800.  That during the nineteenth century more than 850 people/companies manufactured washing machines and that washing machines played crucial roles in American life blamed by southerners as one factor causing the Civil War, offered by many of the same southerners as a solution to the servant problem after the war, and as a solution to the Chinese question in the west.  Washing machines or rather washing machine patent right scams between 1870 and 1900 were blamed by many as a substantial factor in the farm debt crisis.

By 1810 washing machine manufacturers had settled on their major advertising points and marketing practices that would serve them through the 19th century.  Between 1800 and 1850 washing machines received more than 300 patents and more than 52 manufacturers, a few manufacturing between 10,000 and 50,000 a year.  The War appears to have halted washing machine manufacturing in the South for the duration but only slowed in in the North where the focus of manufacturing moved to California.  After the War Washing machines were temporrily seen as a way to control former slave washer women but preferably machines of Southern manufacture. Still by 1890 southern manufacture appears to have largely disappeared while Northern and Western manufacture boomed.  At least 350 washing machine manufacturers have been documented for at least brief periods between 1870 and 1900.  More claimed to produce selling instead patent rights to produce for which significant numbers of farmers were duped into mortgaging their farms to purchase the right to manufature and sell washing machines.  This paper summerizes the development of an industry that thrived throughout the nineteenth century.

2016 BHC Meeting Ben Zdencanovic “European Welfare States and American Free Enterprise: Towards a Transnational Reframing of Postwar US Business Conservatism”

Over the past several decades, historians of the 20th century US have been increasingly interested in the ways that a resurgent and politicized business community mobilized in the years following World War II to contain and roll back New Deal reform. The story told thus far, however, has largely been a national one; beyond gesturing to the Manichean effects of the Cold War on US politics, historians of postwar business conservatism have rarely been attuned to global or transnational forces. This paper shows that the postwar rise of the modern welfare state in Western Europe was often at the center of US business conservatives’ political campaigns against social reform and economic interventionism, and that the foil of Western Europe often decisively shaped national-level social policy in fields such as healthcare and housing. The paper uses the case study of the National Association of Real Board’s late 1940s campaign against national public housing legislation. At the center of this lobbying campaign was the negative example of social housing in Britain and France, an exceptionalist narrative that was instrumental in shaping the terms of the 1949 US Housing Act. 

2016 BHC Meeting Ben Zdencanovic “European Welfare States and American Free Enterprise: Towards a Transnational Reframing of Postwar US Business Conservatism”

Over the past several decades, historians of the 20th century US have been increasingly interested in the ways that a resurgent and politicized business community mobilized in the years following World War II to contain and roll back New Deal reform. The story told thus far, however, has largely been a national one; beyond gesturing to the Manichean effects of the Cold War on US politics, historians of postwar business conservatism have rarely been attuned to global or transnational forces. This paper shows that the postwar rise of the modern welfare state in Western Europe was often at the center of US business conservatives’ political campaigns against social reform and economic interventionism, and that the foil of Western Europe often decisively shaped national-level social policy in fields such as healthcare and housing. The paper uses the case study of the National Association of Real Board’s late 1940s campaign against national public housing legislation. At the center of this lobbying campaign was the negative example of social housing in Britain and France, an exceptionalist narrative that was instrumental in shaping the terms of the 1949 US Housing Act. 

2017 BHC Meeting Raúl Bringas-Nostti “Colonel Sanders goes to Mexico: the first venture of the fast food industry into the developing world, 1963-1975”

As founder and initial force behind Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Harland David Sanders, later known as Colonel Sanders, was a pioneering businessman. With the innovative use of pressure cookers, he accelerated the cooking process, which is the very essence of fast food. By polishing his personal image, he became the first popular character in the fast food industry, years before Ronald McDonald was even born. However, Colonel Sanders and his company are not remembered for their third great innovation: the conquest of the developing world. Fast food redefined the urban culture of developing countries. It became one of the core elements of the post-war “clash of civilizations”. In present days, a globalized planet without fast food signs would be unrecognizable. The restaurant KFC built in Monterrey, Mexico, in 1963, was the beginning of a successful expansion. It became the pioneer of a new era in American business “civilization”. In the same year, A&W Restaurants went to Malaysia and the Philippines, but not with the same success. Colonel Sanders traveled to Monterrey to supervise his bold move. This venture was his last contribution as head of the company. In 1964 he sold his assets to a group of investors, but retained a role as advisor and representative. In the following decade, more KFC restaurants opened their doors in Mexico. By then, history had already been made. The customers in Monterrey, who cheered the legendary man with the white suit and the Van Dyke goatee, had witnessed the day fast food arrived to the developing world.

2017 BHC Meeting Evelyn Atkinson Popular Sovereignty and Railroad Regulation: The Saga of the West Wisconsin Railroad

Wisconsin’s infamous Potter law of 1874 is considered the beginning of state attempts to regulate railroad corporations in the late nineteenth century.  Yet the social context of the law has never been explored.  Examining the case study of the West Wisconsin Railroad reveals that the Potter law was merely the tip of a much larger movement to reassert popular sovereignty over railroad corporations that emerged in Wisconsin in the 1870s.  Farmers, along with merchants, townspeople, passengers, lawyers, and politicians, rallied to reclaim what they saw as the right of the people to control corporations like the railroad.  Yet as the experience of the West Wisconsin Railroad illuminates, in practice popular control over the railroads was hard to enforce.  The complete dependency of local communities on the railroads for their livelihoods overcame more abstract claims of popular sovereignty in specific cases.  Even when it was widely conceded that the railroad had abused its privileges and acted unfairly or even illegally, local communities and state actors were often reluctant to enforce the law to hold railroads accountable for fear of losing railroad access altogether.

2016 BHC Meeting Takafumi Kurosawa Reinterpretation of the Nature of Industry: Methodology and Concepts of the History of Industries

History of industries is one of the most intensively studied topics in the business history. However, there are only few works that deal with the most basic question; what is an industry? This paper examines this question by linking it with another question; “What kind of methodology and key categories are essential for studies on history of industries?” This paper starts with key elements, which forms the boundary of industries. Roles of 1)product, 2)technology and knowledge, 3)function in the economy and 4)market (geographical and social), shall be discussed. In the second section, this paper uses three cases to elucidate the importance of a “industry history view”. The first is a debate in Japan on uses and risks of (over-) application of the “architecture” concept in automobile and some process industries. The second is an implication of comparative studies on paper and steel industry, focusing on the industry-specific consumption pattern and nature of the product. The third case is a transformation of the screw industry for the automobile parts industry (industrial fastener supplier) and possibility to introduce a new concept, “versatile supporting industry”. All three cases suggest systematic attention to the specificity of each industry and conscious application of basic categories are highly important.

2016 BHC Meeting Nicolaas T. Strydom About Africa or from Africa? A new look at Business History in an African context

“When Norman S. B. Gras set out to create the first course in "business history" at the Harvard Business School in 1927, he found such a paucity of secondary material on the subject that he was forced to prepare his own.” Fast forward nearly a century and this description by Ralph Hidy (1970), a former Isidor Strauss Professor of Business History at Harvard, may be aptly applied to business history at African universities. While American business history has undergone synthesis (under Gras, Larson, Chandler, McCraw, and others) and re-synthesis (Whitten & Whitten; Lamoreaux, Raff & Temin; Amatori & Jones; Scranton & Fridenson, and many others), Africa and its sub-regions have yet to accumulate substantial bodies of research and seminal works. 

The purpose of this study is twofold: firstly, to explore the identity of existing African business history literature, in order to understand in which context such literature originates, by whom it is written and where its focus lies. To this end, a quasi-bibliometric inquiry is made into the origin, focus, and pervasiveness of African business history articles that have appeared in leading business history journals between 1990 and 2016. Secondly, by understanding the dynamics of existing African business history research, the paper will attempt to make recommendations to promote future research in African business history.

2016 BHC Meeting Manuel A. Bautista González Sketching the Supply Side of the Story: The Circulation of Mexican Dollars in Antebellum America, 1792-1860

In a previous paper, I explored the little known, long-lasting influence of Mexican silver dollars on the American monetary supply between 1792 and 1860 following some institutional, legal and economic developments available in secondary sources. I now revisit the problem analyzing some documents I found in two Mexican archives concerning the monetary relationship between antebellum America and Mexico. This is a paper that focuses on the national and international context of the production of Mexican dollars during the nineteenth century. The evidence in the archives I visited is scarce, limited, and fragmentary. There is nevertheless merit in revising it. An official communication from an American officer found in the archives of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs sets the agenda for this paper. The questions in that letter guide what I call the “supply side” of the story. A document from the Mexican National Archive provides for the first time microeconomic evidence (on the Mexican side) for Peter Temin’s explanation of the macroeconomic woes of the United States in the late 1830s. Future work will concern the “demand side” of the story.

2017 BHC Meeting Muwei Chen Institutional inertia induced by the institutional change in traditional Nishijin-ori Necktie industry of Kyoto in the post-1970s

The clusters featured by flexible specialization are faced with an increasing diversity of the products turned out and heterogeneity of the actors. As a result, the “subclusters” have formed within the base clusters. And they are influenced by both the base cluster and the industry they belong to. However, the mechanism of how the two forces influence the evolutionary route of the subclusters is not clear. This paper intends to fill this gap by analyzing the history of the Nishijin-ori necktie cluster, a subcluster within the silk weave cluster in Kyoto, in the post-1970s.

This paper argues that the industrial changes and the performance of the base cluster are mediated by the institutions of the subcluster, which are devised and revised by the actors. However, the actors, both the individual entrepreneurs and the professional associations, have either failed in institutional changes or actually reinforced the extant institutions, which resulted in an institutional inertia. In consequence, before the 1990s the industrial crises were buffered by the extant institutions, half relying on the base cluster. But with a decline of the base cluster thereafter, the institutional inertia had hampered the necktie cluster’s ability to deal with industrial changes. Therefore, in the 2000s the industrial crises--- the shift of the ODM&OEM to China and the policy of “no necktie in office”--- have led to an overall decline of the subcluster. On the other hand, the crises in the 2000s suggested chances for institutional changes as can be observed in the entrepreneurs’ endeavors, which aim to bridge a connection between silk weave tradition and a new necktie market.

This study will contribute to an understanding of the dynamism of clusters by bringing in institutional theory. In addition, as to the Nishijin-ori necktie cluster, this study will also complement the lack of research on the silk weave cluster in Kyoto after the 1970s.

2016 BHC Meeting Christina Lubinski and R. Daniel Wadhwani The Material Foundations of Continuity in Family Business: A Uses of History Study

Scholars have long agreed that family business survival depends to a large degree on the emotional commitment of individual members to the family, and that conflict in family firms can be attributed to a lack of “psychological ownership” (Pierce et al., 2001, 2003) To understand continuity and long-term commitment, family business scholars have focused on governance systems, information sharing mechanisms, conflict management and the continuous renewal of family and firm, a balancing act between continuity and change (Sharma & Salvato, 2013). However, the material foundations of emotional commitment have been left largely unexplored. In this paper, we examine the role of material objects, and the practices surrounding these objects, in generating commitment among individual members of a family business and in fostering common identity and a sense of continuity.

The paper draws together two distinct bodies of literature and extends them into the realm of family business research: material culture research and the uses of history. Material culture is a well-established research field. Historians as well as anthropologists, sociologists and organization studies scholars have debated approaches to “things” and their social usage for several decades. Family Business Studies, by contrast, have yet to engage in the material turn. The paper also draws on the emerging literature on the “uses of history” to examine the usage and practices surrounding objects within family businesses. Most of the literature on “uses of history” has focused on language and texts as the foundations for history within organizations (Suddaby et al, 2010; Brunninge, 2009), and the little work that has considered the role of artifacts (Schultz and Hernes, 2013) has tended to focus on their use during pivotal moments of strategy making rather than their ongoing role within the practices of an organization. We therefore seek to extend the uses of history approach to examining ongoing practices and meaning making related to key material objects within family firms.

Specifically we examine three in-depth case studies of German family firms between 1945 and 2000. The companies were investigated through archival research (corporate and regional archives), company visits and eight interviews with family members and employees. We focus particularly on three groups of objects, which we found to be relevant in our case studies: (i) family graves and objects related to burial practices, (ii) family portraits and (iii) “toys”, i.e. objects handed to children in these business families.

First, we use established frameworks from history to show how these objects act as symbolic communicators in both family and firm. Given the strong focus in the literature on domestic objects and personal possessions, including heirlooms and intergenerational gifting, our analysis profits from previous insights about the role of objects as “bundles of meaning,” both summarizing complex relationships and remaining flexible for new and changing interpretations. Graves, portraits and toys, we argue, summarize and “use” history in these organizations for specific purposes, including reinforcing community, socializing new members into the community and communicating continuity and change simultaneously.

Second, we explore the most recent engagement with the link between objects and user practices. Historical “careers of usage practices” unveil how people have become committed and uncommitted to practices in relation to things. Objects have a usage history as well as ideas of how they will be used designed into them. Future practices are thus “scripted,” but they are also subject to time- and context-sensitive adaptations, as we will show based on our sample. In some of our cases, the suggested use of objects generated conflict and resistance so that materiality will yield insights into power relationships and micropolitical processes in family and firm.

The paper contributes to research in three particular ways. First, it extends our understanding of the social mechanisms fostering “psychological ownership” to the material side of generating emotional commitment. Second, by focusing on family firms, the paper advances historical materiality studies because it links the ownership of domestic objects, a recurrent theme, to the realm of business, thus unveiling the intertwined nature of public and private spheres. Finally, tracing usage patterns and changing interpretations of objects requires an historical approach, which neither organizational studies nor family business research can provide on their own.

2016 BHC Meeting R. Daniel Wadhwani Moral Economy in Business History: The Question of Value and the Evolution of Firms and Markets

Post-Chandlerian business history has added a set of new lenses through which scholars now examine the historical evolution of firms and markets. These new perspectives include political economy (John 2006), culture (Hansen 2012), and class and gender relations (Yeager 1999), among other approaches. Recent work has also begun to consider questions of moral economy in business history, sometimes by tracing the antecedents of the contemporary construct of corporate social responsibility(Carroll, Lipartito et al. 2012). In this paper, I seek to contribute to the interest in moral economy within business history by examining how questions of justice and justification might be incorporated in ways that address central research concerns in business history, such as the evolution and growth of firms, the character of competition, and the evolution of industries and sectors.

In particular, I explore the prospect of incorporating moral economy into business history by revisiting an old question examined in historical views on markets and capitalism: what is value and where does it come from? Drawing on both American and European pragmatism (Dewey 1939, Boltanski and Thévenot 2006),  I suggest that the problem of value raises fundamentally moral questions of what ought to be valued and how it ought to be evaluted. Processes of agreement and disagreement among actors over these questions of value, I argue, form a discourse of moral economy within markets that shape coordination, dissent and innovation in economic activities, and contribute to the legitimization of certain new goods, organizational forms and competitive dynamics over others. I develop these ideas in three main body sections.

Section 1 examines the intellectual history of value theory, particularly in the context of historicist perspectives on the evolution of markets and capitalism. Classical political economy, held firmly to an intrinsic labor theory of value; the evolution of capitalism in Marixan (2008 (1865)) historicism hinged in large part on how conflicts over the appropriation of labor value shaped processes of change in capitalism. The neo-classical turn in economics removed questions of value from economics by positing that value was determined by individual “preferences” and hence was autonomous from the market process (Beckert and Aspers 2011). Early twentieth century historical institutionalists, both in the Europe and the United States, critiqued both intrinsic theories of value and neo-classical economics’ supposition that value was autonomously determined by arguing that shared notions of value changed over time and were hence shaped by institutionalized norms and practices(Cooley 1913). But by the mid-twentieth century, as the old institutionalism faded, both economic and business historians focused increasingly on questions of the efficient allocation and combination of resources in markets rather than the antecedent question of value; to the extent that the moral economy of value remained a topic of historical interest it was a subject of labor history and envisioned as a pre-capitalist or anti-capitalist mode of thinking about transactions that modern markets and exchange economy replaced(Thompson 1971). Recent work in business history has highlighted the relevance of moral economy in modern capitalist societies and in shaping competition and firms in markets. But it has not considered how to incorporate moral economy into systematic explanations of the dynamics explaining the evolution of firms and markets – that is, the topics of concern in business history.

Section 2 (re)introduces the question of value as a way to understand how moral economy shapes the historical evolution of firms and markets. Drawing particularly on Dewey (1939) and Boltanski and Thevenot (2006), I suggest that rationales or justifications of value form a kind of moral discourse in markets by articulating the ends a good is designed to serve and how a good should be evaluated in relationship to those ends.  The discourse surrounding a Prius, for instance, justifies valuing a car based on civic and environmental ends in addition to valuing it as a mode of transportation, quite in contrast to say, an SUV. Agreement over what ought to be valued and how to value it in turn helps coordinate activities toward what is understood to be valuable. Dissent and conflict, in contrast, open up the possibility for change and innovation by raising the possibility of alternative ways of valuing a good. I argue that by examining these processes of agreement and disagreement over value in markets, business historians can consider how economic actors view the purposeful ends of activities, and how this works to justify particular organizational forms and modes of competition over time.

In section 3, I seek to apply the line of reasoning developed in Section 2 in explaining processes of change in firms and industries. Specifically, I explore how processes of justification of value within markets shape entrepreneurship and innovation, variations in organizational form and size over time and place, and the nature of the relationships between organizations in industries. These applications, I argue, are suggestive of the ways in which moral justification may be understood as an inherent part of market processes. Specifically, I suggest that by examining processes of agreement and disagreement over worth would allow busienss historians to examine processes of coordination and change in industries.

2018 BHC Meeting Tristan Jacques POSTWAR AMERICANIZATION OF THE FRENCH RETAIL TRADE. Bernardo Trujillo and NCR's seminars on Modern Merchants Methods, 1957-1966.

Hypermarkets, invented in France in 1963, were part and parcel of the drastic

transformations of retail trade structures. This article examines the process of

Americanization behind those changes, and more specifically the role of the Modern

Marketing Methods seminars, organized by the National Cash Register and led by

Bernardo Trujillo between 1957 and the end of the 1960s. These courses were offered to

retail professionals in the United-States and touted, among other things, the advantages

of consumer self-service; despite being US-based, these seminars had a strong impact on

French business. However, as these seminars are not well known by historians, this

article seeks to document their functioning and to examine their influence, in particular

by comparing them to the productivity missions of the 1950s.

2016 BHC Meeting Myungsoo Kim A Study on the Transfer Process of the Western Banking System to Korea vis Japan: Hansung Bank and Daiichi Bank

The aim of this paper is to scrutinize how western technology was transferred into East Asia from the late 19th century to the early 20th century by a case study on the introduction of the banking system into Korea via Japan. In this regard, it is important to focus on the relation between Hansung Bank of Korea and Daiichi Bank of Japan.

From the mid-nineteenth century, the Chinese world system in East Asia began to be disturbed in the face of the eastern penetration by the Western powers. Korea, China, and Japan, which often are called “East Asia three countries”, gradually began to be incorporated into the World Capitalist Economy in response to external shocks by the Western powers. When the Treaty of Nanjing was signed on August 29, 1942, after the Opium War between Britain and China, Japan changed its seclusive attitude entirely towards the western powers into an appeasement policy. Korea, which was called Chosun in those days, reinforced its seclusion policy after the French campaign against Korea (1866) and the United States expedition to Korea (1871). The elite bureaucrats and scholars of East Asia three countries felt that the change was irreversible and insisted that they should accept western culture and technology. However, conservative people strenuously resisted change.

After the compulsory opening of Japanese ports to foreign trade by U.S. Commodore Perry in 1853, Japan tried to establish a modern state during the reign of Emperor Meiji. Japan strongly propelled the Meiji Restoration under the slogan of “encouragement of new industry (殖産興業)” and “national prosperity and military power (富國强兵)”. The Iwakura Mission was dispatched to Europe and America in 1871 for further understanding of western culture, economy, and politics. The Unyo Incident (1875) by the Japanese Army and the Treaty of Ganghwa (1876) were expressions of self-confidence. Victories in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 enabled Japan to upgrade its position and range with the Western powers in East Asia. Now Japan had achieved enough economic and military success to fight for the rights and interests with the Western powers in Korea and China. Japan depended on its military power to secure the rights and interests in Korea and to expand trade areas in Korea. Financial supports functioned as a precondition to the above activities. The final result was the colonialization of Korea after the Russo-Japanese War of 1905.

From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, before Korea became a Japanese colony in 1910, a variety of industrial technologies from the U.S., Britain, China, and Japan were introduced into Korea, such as the railroad, tramcar, electricity, telegraphy, weapon, medical treatment, etc. Also, the introduction of the western banking system was closely related to the colonialization process in Korea. Financial penetration by Japan was expanded into the Korean inland since the Pusan branch of Daiichi Bank had been established in 1878, which stimulated the Korean government and elite people had no choice but to establish banks independently to protect the Korean financial system. There was nothing more that Korean people could do against Japan’s expansion of trade and business area with prompt remittance and low-interest loans from Japanese banks like Daiichi Bank. Korean people began to think that traditional finance and usury in Korea should be improved, and the scarcity of financial institutions made them establish actively western style of banks  like Daiichi Bank. The enforcement of tax payments in cash through the Gabo Reform (甲午改革) of 1894 promoted a commodity money economy which had been expanded since the late Chosun dynasty. Both external shocks and internal necessity made Korean people show an aggressive attitude toward the establishment of banks and modernization in finance. 

However, it was so difficult for Korean people to establish monetary and financial systems independently because of Japan’s colonialization of Korea; therefore, Hansung Bank started out again as a by-product of the colonialization process of Korea. Since then, Hansung Bank came to experience dependent development under Daiichi Bank’s supervision and guidance, and the process of dependent development itself was the introduction process and the settlement process of western banking system in Korea. Details of these situations will be examined thoroughly in this paper.

2020 BHC Meeting Niels-Viggo Haueter Dynamics of Savings

Looking at large shifts in the financial services sector, we can identify monetary policies, regulation, crises, and innovation as main drivers. However, they do not act independently. For example, high interest rates affect both banking and insurance, yet not in the same way. Depending on their respective regulation the impact may vary and cause services to shift from one industry to the other. We will focus on savings as one area where services shifted frequently between not only banks and insurers but also a variety of alternative institutions such as saving clubs, thrifts, building societies, life insurers, mutual funds, as well as governments.

2019 BHC Meeting Gustavo A. Del Angel Intentionally arrested: rural insurance markets and credit in Mexico 1960-2000


2010 BHC Meeting Neveen Abdelrehim, Josephine Maltby, and Steven Toms Imperialism, Employment, and Racial Discrimination: The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, 1933-1951

By the mid-twentieth century, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) had become a large British multinational that was held to consider Iran as its "own town." It was a very common complaint that members of the British staff of the company treated their Iranian colleagues and subordinates as racial inferiors, and Iranians of all grades, from workmen up to senior staff, including UK graduates, claimed to have experienced insults on the grounds of nationality from British staff. This paper addresses the claims by the Iranians against the AIOC and the company's counter-claims, and the tactical methods adopted by the AIOC management, including the management of information. The paper draws on a wide range of archival evidence from various historical sources such as the Iranian Press "ITTILA'AT," UK Press, archival records of correspondence between the chairman and various diplomats, and the AIOC annual reports. Specifically, it contrasts the pronouncements of the AIOC in public documents such as the Annual Reports with private views reflected in correspondence and third party evidence, allowing an objective assessment of the extent of Iranianization ahead of the political crisis of 1951. The analysis shows that the AIOC was discriminatory toward Iranians, reflecting a negative attitude to their technical potential as well as traditional colonial stereotyping. More important, the AIOC resisted Iranianization because the redistribution of employment in favor of Iranians, including at the senior level, threatened to compromise the control of the business. It was this point that was most strenuously resisted by the AIOC negotiators. The company was more willing to compromise on other aspects that were less threatening to overall control, for example on housing and health care. These concessions were insufficient to forestall the ensuing nationalization crisis, which after all, was all about the crucial question of control of the oil fields.

2009 BHC/EBHA Meeting Neveen Abdelrehim, Josephine Maltby, and Steven Toms Oil Nationalization and Managerial Response: The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, 1951

The paper re-examines evidence surrounding the events leading up to and immediately following the nationalization of the Anglo Iranian Oil Company's assets in May 1951. Iranian justifications for this action were based on accusations of unfairness in the distribution of profits from oil production and anti-Iranian discrimination in the AIOC's employment policies. To provide further evidence concerning these claims, a financial analysis is conducted to assess the division of profits from the oil industry between the AIOC and the British and Iranian governments. Evidence on

2017 BHC Meeting Gregory Ablavsky The Rise of Federal Title

How land was distributed in the United States shifted dramatically in the 1790s.  Although most histories of the federal lands fixate on the Land Ordinance of 1785, which created the rectangular grid, the neglected subsequent decade and a half witnessed an equally significant transformation, as the federal government altered from corporate to governmental distribution of the public lands.

 Initially, the federal government anticipated using land companies, modeled on prerevolutionary efforts, to distribute the public domain.  In its waning days, the Continental Congress sold millions of acres in the Northwest Territory to three such companies: the Ohio, Scioto, and Miami Companies.  These companies would bear the risk and cost of settlement, while the federal government would achieve its policy goals of securing revenue and establishing a clear, systematic method to distribute land.  But in practice, the companies succumbed the era’s rampant speculation on bare promises of ownership; their gambles using implicit congressional endorsement forced the federal government to compensate disgruntled purchasers.  In place of corporate land distribution, the federal government shifted toward direct sales through federal land offices.  This bureaucratic system ultimately governed much of the distribution of federal land over the following century.

 This transformation from corporate to federal land sales has important historiographical implications.  It underscores recent scholarship emphasizing the strength of early national federal government; it demonstrates shifting ideas about the nature and source of ownership in the early United States; and it stresses changing understandings of corporate and governmental power in the early republic, as older models that saw corporate authority as bolstering the state waned.  

2020 BHC Meeting Eric John Abrahamson Reputation, Social Capital, and the Industrialization of Credit: The Experience of One Mid-American City

In Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam famously documented the decline of membership-based, civil society institutions, which he asserted represented a concomitant loss of social capital in the United States. A variety of factors had contributed to this decline, he wrote, including generational change, the rise of the two-income household, suburban sprawl, and the privatization of entertainment via television. He ruled out other factors including changes in family structure, racial integration, and the rise of big government. He left open the question of whether the “accelerating nationalization and globalization of our economic structures” had some role to play and suggested “delocalization” of business had diminished the role of business elites in local communities.

A more interesting question asks how the market economy of postindustrial capitalism invaded the social economy to undermine local institutions and diminish social bonding. This paper focuses on the role civil society institutions played in the social construction of reputations and the resulting patterns of bank lending in one small Midwestern city (Rapid City, South Dakota). It shows that loan officers and managers, as well as customers, participated heavily in civil society organizations to gauge and establish bankable reputations. The development of industrialized credit scoring, like many new information technologies of the Third Industrial Revolution, diminished the importance of the banker’s personal knowledge of an individual’s character or social connections in favor of quantified calculations of risk.

Using social network analysis, this paper looks at bank officer involvement in service clubs, churches, and other civil society institutions before and after the banks embraced credit scoring to assess whether the decreased utility of these civil society institutions, for both bankers and customers, contributed to the decline of these institutions and the supply of social capital.

2017 BHC Meeting Graeme G. Acheson, Gareth Campbell, and John D. Turner Common Law and the Origin of Shareholder Protection

This paper examines the origins of investor protection under the common law by analysing the development of shareholder protection in Victorian Britain, the home of the common law. In this era, very little was codified, with corporate law simply suggesting a default template of rules. Ultimately, the matter of protection was one for the corporation and its shareholders. Using c.500 articles of association and ownership records of publicly-traded Victorian corporations, we find that corporations afforded investors with just as much protection as is present in modern corporate law and that firms with better shareholder protection had more diffuse ownership.

2020 BHC Meeting Graeme Acheson The London Assurance Company: Investor Behaviour and the South Sea Bubble

Asset bubbles are an important aspect of business history, as they have the potential to significantly disrupt financial markets and impact negatively on the growth of an economy. They impact investor behaviour, and have implications for the financing and ownership of firms. This paper revisits one of the most famous financial bubbles, the South Sea Bubble of 1720, to examine investor behaviour during and after the IPO of the newly-formed London Assurance Company.
With limited investor information on the South Sea Company surviving from this period, much of the investigation into the characteristics and trading behaviour of investors during the episode has focused on companies that played a secondary role in the bubble, such as the Bank of England. The London Assurance Company, however, experienced a more dramatic ‘bubble’ than any other firm on the market at that time, including the South Sea Company itself. Researching the characteristics and behaviour of London Assurance investors at this time therefore has the potential to offer considerable insight into the mania of 1720.
Using a new hand-collected dataset, we examine the trading behaviour of London Assurance investors from its IPO in 1719 onwards, reaching four conclusions. Firstly, the majority of the original subscribers in the company sold their stock before the height of the bubble. However, a distinct group of investors with longer investment horizons did exist amongst the original subscribers. Secondly, individuals who acquired stock during the bubble typically had shorter investment horizons than those who bought stock during subsequent ‘normal’ market conditions. Thirdly, there is evidence that the behaviour of investors was impacted by the restrictive nature of trading non-divisible subscription receipts. Finally, a comparison with the Bank of England suggests that share turnover and investor churn was higher in companies that experienced a greater bubble.

2013 BHC Meeting Graeme Acheson, Gareth Campbell, John D. Turner, and Nadia Vanteeva Corporate Ownership and Control in Victorian Britain

Using ownership and control data for 905 firm-years, this paper examines the concentration of capital and voting rights in British companies in the second half of the nineteenth century. Both capital and voting rights were diffuse by modern-day standards. This finding implies that ownership was separated from control in the UK much earlier than previous scholars have suggested. It also provides evidence against the law and finance hypothesis, which argues that strong shareholder law is a prerequisite for diffuse ownership. In terms of the determinants of ownership, we find that the secondary trading of shares over time, and the appointment of large boards, were associated with less concentrated ownership. There is also evidence that many early companies made a particular effort to attract small shareholders, by severely limiting the voting rights of large shareholders, and by listing on multiple regional stock markets.

2019 BHC Meeting Pilar Acosta Friends of foes? The historical evolution of private actors in the provision of public goods


2005 BHC Meeting Stephen B. Adams Becoming Silicon Valley: Exogenous Factors in the Development of a High-Tech Region

What was the nature of Silicon Valley during its formative years, before 1975? To what extent can we attribute the rise of the Valley and its capital, control, and ideas to indigenous, as opposed to exogenous, factors? To explore these questions, this paper reviews three stages in Silicon Valley's development: regional disadvantage (1909-1940); achieving critical mass (1940-1960); and establishing entrepreneurial infrastructure (1960-1975). Based on both qualitative and quantitative sources, I conclude that we can attribute much of the Valley's pre-1975 development to factors exogenous to the region. This means:     1. Several of the Valley's high-profile startups were begun with resources external to the region or lost control to forces outside the region.     2. A majority of the critical mass of high-tech employees in the Valley worked for laboratories or manufacturing facilities belonging to firms based elsewhere.     3. Stanford University's primary programs of outreach to high-tech industry involved firms based elsewhere, and much of Stanford's model for interacting with high-tech industry was derived from what other universities and technical institutions did. These findings suggest the importance of attracting exogenous resources and ideas during the early development stages of a high-tech region.