Abstracts of Annual Meeting Papers
|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.
|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.
|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.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Robin Adams, Christopher Coyle||The Wee Divergence: Entrepreneurship and Political Turmoil in Ireland Before 1900||
The relationship between political uncertainty and business creation, an established topic among political scientists and economists, has attracted broader interest in recent years due to developments in contemporary politics. This paper looks at an historical example of a prolonged period of political uncertainty, Ireland in the second half of the nineteenth century, to shed light on this relationship. We find that the period when this political uncertainty was most intense coincided with a divergence between the volume of businesses created per year in Ireland and Scotland. We dub this the ‘Wee Divergence’.
Specifically, we look at business creation in Ireland from 1860 to 1900, a period characterised by pervasive uncertainty over whether Ireland would gain some measure of independence (‘Home Rule’) or remain an integral part of the United Kingdom. The question of Home Rule came to the fore of British politics on two occasions when Irish nationalist parliamentarians, holding the balance of power in Westminster, succeeded in forcing the Prime Minister to introduce a Home Rule bill, in 1886 and 1893. Facing opposition from the Conservative party in Britain, anti-Home Rule politicians in Ireland’s northern counties, and the business elite throughout the country, both bills were eventually defeated.
Using a unique dataset compiled inter alia from British government records and digitised newspaper archives, we investigate the relationship between (1) the number of companies registered per month, (2) the number of signatories to memorandums of association of companies registered and (3) nominal capital committed to new companies, and the extent to which Home Rule was discussed in the Irish broadsheet press. Preliminary results suggest a significant and negative relationship between entrepreneurship in Ireland during this period and political uncertainty over Home Rule, potentially contributing to the Wee Divergence.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Bruno Aidar||The Sponsors of the Crown: The Shareholders of the Bank of Brazil in the Portuguese Empire, 1808-1821||
The foundation of the Bank of Brazil on October 12th, 1808 was crucial for the rebuilding of the Portuguese monarchy in Brazil and even for the first years of the Brazilian independent nation. It represents a singular case in the banking history of the American continent in the early 19th Century, only preceded by the Bank of the United States, created by Alexander Hamilton in 1791. Amongst the Spanish American independent nations, the projects of the first national banks appeared lately at the beginning of the 1820s. While Argentina achieved the foundation of the Bank of Buenos Aires in 1822, they proved to be unsuccessful in Mexico and Peru. The establishment of Brazilian bank was also a landmark in the Portuguese financial and monetary history, considering the lack of previous banks in the kingdom. The importance of the Bank of Brazil was recently recognized by scholars, but we have several points that demand further research. In spite of being a quoted primary source, the general list of the shareholders of the Bank of Brazil, published in 1821, is an exquisite document for the study of the regulation and configuration of the bank shareholders, an objective intended by this paper. As an undeniable economic and political pole of the Portuguese monarchy, the bank revealed a microcosm of the relations established between the Crown and its elites during this critical age for the fate of Portuguese empire as well as the tensions of implementing a mercantile enterprise in an Old Regime and slavery framework.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Araceli Almaraz||Business Families in Mexico: Succession and Business Continuity||
Between 2010 and 2018, about 70 percent of the 500 most important companies in Mexico corresponded to companies of Mexican origin, of which an average of 80 percent operated with directories in which at least two relatives had participated. Our main objective is to know the type of business families and the general type of trajectory that company followed. With this work we want to contribute to closing the historiographical gap in family businesses and business families in Mexico. The historical perspective focuses on the configuration of the most important business families and how their members managed arrival and generational change processes, as well as the positioning of the new generations in the shareholders groups and the directories. The biographical method and the reconstruction of business genealogies help us to reconstruct the history of the companies themselves from multiple dimensions. In particular, we want to analyze: a) family structures in the initial companies, b) changes in management to endure and their respective family changes, c) as well as the new companies that the following generations have created, regardless of their importance now, and d) composition of directories in companies with greater durability and startups. The questions to be answered are: how social structures have been fundamental in starting family businesses and setting up in business families in lung run? What elements of the socio-parental and sociocultural organization stand out in the competition of Mexican family business? The theoretical approach is based on the recent debates of business history, family capitalism and the variations of capitalism, trying to discuss the importance of family structure in Mexican business. The hypothesis sustained is that a business family combining perdurability of some business whit new companies like high tech startups and innovation, evidencing accumulation and knowledge control by new family members.
|2020 BHC Meeting||C. Edoardo Altamura||From Zero to Hero: Brazil and the World Bank Before and After the Military Coup of 1964||
Between 1959 and 1964, the democratic government of Brazil did not receive any support from the World Bank, not a single project was funded and not a dime entered the country. The Bank insisted that the lack of project funding was due to the country’s inability to keep inflation at bay, to devise credible projects and to stabilise the exchange rate.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Bamidele Aly||The Fate of Austro-hungarian and German Businessmen and Firms in Nigeria During WWI||
Upon the start of WWI, Austrian-Hungarian and German firms were flourishing in Southern Nigeria, as their products were well appreciated by the indigenous population and they proposed favourable payment facilities vs. their British and French competitors. Prior to the British colonisation, the Reichsmark and the Thaler were favoured to the detriment of the British Sterling.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Rolv Petter Amdam, Gabriel R. G. Benito, Birgitte Grøgaard||Interactions Between Academia and Business on Internationalization: Teaching Cases on Multinational Enterprises in US Business Schools, 1955-1964||
In the 1950s and 60s, US firms became more international. Parallel to this process, the academic community started to develop educational programs and research that aimed at supporting the internationalization process (Wilkins, 1974). Raymond Vernon’s research project on the multinational enterprise at Harvard Business School from 1965, and the new journal (Columbia) Journal of World Business from the same year, are some of the initiatives in the US that contributed to the creation of the new discipline International Business (IB) (Shenkar, 2004).
|2020 BHC Meeting||Marina Ampudia||New Spatialities of Resistance in the World of Work. Case Study of the Graphic Company Chilavert||
During the 2000s there was the emptying and dismantling of companies and with it the growth of unemployment in Argentina. This scenario has as background the transformations of the accumulation regime during the 70s and the triumph of neoliberalism with its advances and consolidations in the 90s. The workers find in this scenario forms of resistance in the margins of precariousness that the world of Job prints them. New resistance spatialities shape the space of companies, factories and work. The company is taken and occupied by the workers in response to the possibility of closure. They circulate in the world of work collective knowledge of occupation, of dispute to the State, about forms of legality and organization, configuring various experiences of Recovered Companies with productive, educational and cultural spaces / times that build new collective subjectivities in the world of work. In this paper we propose to problematize and interpret the new subjectivities that are generated in spaces / times of self-management of companies without employers.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Hernando Arbelo||Business Strategies in the Field of Education in Development Argentina (1943-1973): Factory-schools, Management and Financing of State Education||
The historiographic studies on businessmen and companies of the last decades have revalued the study of specific cases to analyze, among others, the relations between employers and workers in the manufacturing space, the forms of extra-economic domination and the workers' resistance. They have also proposed to observe businessmen as a lobby and lobby group in their relations with the State. In these new perspectives, however, little has been studied in the field of relations between entrepreneurs and education despite the close relationship that has been, especially since the intensification of the industrialization process in Argentina registered since the 1930s. In reality, businessmen deployed various strategies in the educational field since even before that period. The main problem was the provision of skilled labor, mainly operators and technicians, for the growing industry and the inability of the technical education offered by the State to solve it. However, there were background ideological and political issues that encouraged such initiatives. In this work we present, analyze and systematize these strategies and some of their results. They varied in the decades under study since the creation of educational establishments in the workshops and factories, many of them created by leading companies in the metallurgical field that we study here, to the management and financing of technical education from the creation of specific organizations such as the National Commission for Learning and Vocational Guidance (CNAOP) and the National Council for Technical Education (CONET). For this exercise we use sources little used in previous works, such as those produced by these organizations and others that were shaping the developmental policies implemented by governments in that period. In this way, we intend to shed light on another of the ways in which businessmen related, not without tensions and conflicts, to the State and the workers.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Jennifer Aston||New Perspectives: Reframing and Refocusing Through Collaboration||
This global collaboration has reinvigorated my research of nineteenth-century businesswomen and reframed it within an international context allowing it to speak directly to other scholars, as well as World Bank and governmental reports, thus giving it greater relevance, significance and impact. When I began my doctorate, I was one of only a handful of academics in the UK researching nineteenth-century businesswomen. Yet my research showed that female business owners could be just as successful as their male counterparts and examination of bankruptcy files revealed how they coped with adversity and financed their enterprises. My work led to a contact from Australian historian Catherine Bishop, an email which simply said ‘are you the Jennifer Aston that looks at female business owners?’ Catherine and I quickly developed a close working relationship and I joined her and Susan Ingalls Lewis at the 2017 ABH conference. Our conversations both in and out of the conference initially gave us – as relatively junior academics – an exciting first experience of a research community. However, as is perhaps our nature as historians, we soon began to pick holes in our satisfaction. Catherine and I immediately began to try to find other scholars, with the intention of publishing the first volume to examine the experiences of nineteenth-century female entrepreneurs from across the globe. This process was difficult but eventually resulted in an international workshop and eighteen chapters published as Female Entrepreneurs in the Long Nineteenth Century: A Global Perspective (Palgrave, 2020). Again though, we realised that more work was required, and together we have established the Researching Women of Management and Enterprise Network (ReWOMEN) which connects scholars across business schools and humanities departments with stakeholders and policy makers to share key findings across four centuries of women’s management and enterprise activities.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Samuel Backer||'The Sidewalks of New York': Cooperation and Competition in the American Music Industry, 1880-1920||
In late 19th century New York City, a host of upstart publishing houses revolutionized American music. Clustered around the handful of blocks that became legendary as “Tin Pan Alley,” these firms shattered existing models of distribution and retailing, selling a fast-changing array of sheet music directly to a vast audience through advertising and live performance. Operating in the years before the mechanically-reproduced media of records and films, the businesses employed “pluggers” to perform their products in the city’s theaters, bars, and streets, using local popularity as a springboard to national distribution. Through their success, they transformed music from a local practice into a mass commodity.
Reliant on the same networks of songwriters, performers, and theaters to create and distribute their products, the firms of Tin Pan Alley tread a careful line, seeking to outmaneuver their rivals without sparking potentially costly conflict. Companies balanced their interest in the popularity of their own publications against the need to support the growth of sheet music sales overall. Similarly, publishers struggled to weigh the importance of buying an effective “push” for their material with the necessity of standing firm against the ever-increasing demands of the Vaudeville syndicates and performers who distributed it. “The Sidewalks of New York” provides a detailed examination of these relations, analyzing the social and business geography of Tin Pan Alley to reconstruct the process by which the loose networks that defined the industry’s earliest days gradually developed into a set of increasingly formalized mechanisms for collaboration. Using published and unpublished autobiographical material, newspapers, trade publications, business correspondence, copyright records, and lyrical analysis, this paper sheds a new light on the dynamic interplay between competition and cooperation that shaped the earliest days of the American music industry.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Erik Baker||The New Conservatism: Peter Drucker Discovers Entrepreneurship||
Few individuals have done more to popularize the notion of “entrepreneurship” in the United States than Peter Drucker. An explicit emphasis on entrepreneurship, however, arose relatively late in Drucker’s thinking. The central focus of Drucker’s first publications was the promotion of social cohesion and what he called the “plant community.” I show here that Drucker turned to the figure of the “innovative” entrepreneur starting in the 1950s, in response to two streams of critique of the "industrial society" of the postwar years. First, critics contended that the advance of automation technology was ushering in a new "post-industrial" society that would force a choice between massive technological unemployment, on the one hand, and systematic reduction of working time and redistribution of profits for workers' use in their leisure time, on the other. Other critics argued that the "affluent society" was, to some extent, a facade, concealing enduringly elevated poverty and limited access to public goods such as health care and education. The idea of entrepreneurship anchored Drucker's response to these critiques, a response that was at once conservative and optimistic. Drucker insisted that innovative entrepreneurs would be able to create new "knowledge work" for anyone whose job was automated at the same time that they solved the problems of the affluent society, by taking over the provision of public goods from the state and overseeing the creation of new global supply chains that would supposedly bring economic development to impoverished regions. According to Drucker, knowledge work itself was an important site of entrepreneurship: in its reliance on continuous learning and personal initiative, it would remain immune to the threat of automation.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Grace Ballor||Setting Standards for the Single European Market: Multinational Corporations and European Standards Organizations, 1957-1992||
The Single Market has been the backbone of the European integration project since the Treaty of Rome (1957). That the majority of scholarship on the European Union has analyzed progress toward the Single Market from the level of high politics, focusing on the role of nation states and policymakers in the elimination of tariffs and legal harmonization, leaves a significant gap in understanding the much larger process by which goods, services, capital, and labor became able to move freely across member state borders. This paper analyzes the process of standardization required to transform the customs union of the 1950s into the Single Market of the 1990s and examines the non-state, private-sector actors involved in each of three typologies of regional standardization. By focusing specifically on the influence of multinational corporations (MNCs) on the issuance of formal regional standards by the European Standardization Organizations – CEN and CENELEC, and ETSI – many of which entered Commission legislation, this paper finds that big business played a central role in developing norms for common regional specifications and measures, production and labor processes, safety and environmental standards. By so doing, MNCs shaped the Single Market and influenced the political economy of the region. By repositioning big business at the center of the integration process, this paper contributes a new dimension to integration scholarship and expands the purview of business history from the individual European corporation to the formation of the European Union.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Dalit Baranoff||The Self-insurance Boom: Employee Health Benefits and the Changing Role of Insurance Companies, 1974 to 2010||
Most Americans under age 65 with health insurance are covered through employer-sponsored group health care plans. Today, the majority of these plans are self-insured, meaning that the employer retains part or all of the risk in-house. Using federal government records, insurance industry data, and discussions in trade and popular publications, this paper traces the growth of self-insurance in health coverage since the 1970s and explores the cooperative relationship that has developed between insurers and self-insured employers.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Tim Barker||Survival in the Air Age: The Finletter Commission and the Rise of American Corporatism||
During the early years of the Cold War, American business was unusually united in its suspicion of vastly increased military spending, especially if it risked a budget deficit. An important exception was the aircraft industry, which unlike most other sectors had trouble finding adequate civilian demand after World War II reconversion. Facing mounting losses and in many cases the real risk of firm failure, representatives of firms manufacturing airframes and engines sought government assistance. This came in the form of the President's Air Policy Commission of 1947-8, whose report recommended substantial emergency military appropriations to ensure the survival of the industry. These recommendations, in turn, were easily passed through Congress, resulting in the most significant extension of military-industrial activity until the Korean War and cementing the outsized role of the newly formed Air Force in the new political economy of defense procurement.
The Air Policy Commission (also known, for its chair, as the Finletter Commission) was a historically pivotal instance of capitalist cooperation. In my paper, I explore two dimensions of this cooperation. First, the episode helped forge a new pattern of competitive collaboration between business and the state, in which government outlays would provide liquidity and solvency to an industry deemed essential to the national interest. The industry would remain private, rather being nationalized, and competition between multiple capitalist firms, rather than a single consolidated entity, would remain the ideal. This pattern is recognizable today in the commonplace phenomena of bailouts and "too big to fail." Second, the Commission evinced a notable degree of cooperation between different firms, who converged on a self-diagnosis as a desired remedy. My analysis emphasizes public presentations by executives and the nationwide tour of the air plant undertaken by Commission members to study the problem.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Manuel A. Bautista González||King Cotton and His Mexican Dollars: The Political Economy of Mexican Silver Dollars in New Orleans, 1838-1862||
This quantitative-evidence-based paper explores the inflows, the provenance, and the monetary and financial uses and users of Mexican silver dollars coming in New Orleans in the free banking era, from the late Jacksonian years through the Union occupation of the port during the US Civil War (1838-1862). The paper sheds light on the market(s) and actors involved in the intermediation of Mexican silver dollars. It explores the implications of firms and merchants controlling such high-powered currency for the provision of liquidity and the political economy and monetary policymaking of commodity money in antebellum US trade and financial circuits.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Edward (Ted) Beatty, Israel Solares||Measuring the Expansion of Anglo-American Mining Engineers into the World, 1874-1929||
The paper presents the result of an analysis of a database of tens of thousands of records of graduates of U.S. mining schools, their membership in the American Institute of Mining Engineers (AIME), their career trajectories, including the mining and metallurgical companies for whom they worked, their job categories, their global locations of employment, and their interactions through professional journals. We built the database by mining data with OCR software: lists of members of the AIME, directories of mining corporations in the U.S., Great Britain and Mexico, alumni lists from eight mining schools, and the index for the volumes of the Engineering and Mining Journal. The mining, cleaning, analysis and visualization of the data use Digital Humanities techniques and the full database accounts for over half a million entries of information of over 22 thousand individuals and organizations.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Laurent Beduneau-Wang||The Evaluation of Public-Private Collaboration in Water Management in the Paris’ Suburb (1923-2017): from Discretion to Publicizing||
In 1923, the Water Syndicate of the Paris’ suburb was created to ensure the management of water on behalf of 132 municipalities. It has delegated operational management to the “Compagnie Générale des Eaux” (CGE), called Veolia today. Thus, the collaboration between the Syndicate and Veolia has reflected the need to mix political and technical abilities. Over the first 70 years of the contract, the legitimacy to delegate water service to a private company was not really challenged publicly. Even if negotiations and conflicts could be hard politically, citizens were not involved directly. Water management service was perceived as a discrete and technical issue.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Gavin Benke||How Imagining “the Future” Blurred the Lines Between Business and Government in the 1960s and 1970s||
This paper explores how a wide-ranging dialogue about “the future” helped American business managers rethink the relationship between businesses, government, and consumers in the 1960s and 1970s. During these decades, both politicians and business executives became concerned about managing a world that seemed to be changing in dramatic ways. As a 1968 General Electric report put it, the world was in a period of “accelerating change” that would “hasten the obsolescence of traditional political, economic, and ideological boundaries.” For business executives, the emerging future was presenting businesses with both new opportunities and challenges. As leaders in both business and government contributed to publications such as The Futurist and attended events like Stanford Research Institute’s International Industrial Conferences, they concluded that new demands being placed on corporations were blurring the lines between business and government. Drawing on archival material from the Institute for the Future, the Stanford Research Institute, the Nixon Administration, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, I argue that this preoccupation with the “the future” influenced both policy debates and a broader public’s understanding of the corporation’s role in the world economy.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Hartmut Berghoff||Varieties of Family Capitalism: Results of a Comparative Project on Germany and the Unites States||
Family businesses play an important economic role on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to some parallels, there are also significant differences between Germany and America in terms of corporate and family cultures as well as the institutional environment for, and the lifespan of, family businesses.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Jennifer Boettcher||ZombieList to Track Historic Business Sources: A Collaborative Crowd-sourced Project||
Powered by crowdsourcing, the ZombieList tracks the status and format of core business titles’ content, as well as whether the source is alive or reincarnated or gone. We build the ZombieList to support historical research. What were the key contemporaneous sources in business for historical context? How far back do title of the source go? Does this content still exist in another format or different name? Who owns the rights? What should we preserve? There are about 20,000 titles that have to be reviewed from core business bibliographies used in the education of business librarian since 1949.
|2020 BHC Meeting||Bram Bouwens, Eric Godelier||Cross Border Merger: Guarantee of Failure? The Cases of Renault-Nissan and Air France-KLM||
Since the 1960s, mergers and acquisitions – and especially cross border alliances - have been associated with lowered productivity, higher absenteeism, worse strike records and lower innovation power rather than higher profitability (Kitching 1967; Cartwright and Cooper 1996; Renneboog 2019). Some economists even argued that 50 to 80 percent of all cross border mergers and acquisitions are considered to be financially unsuccessful and do not create any value (Schenk 2008). Nevertheless, the numbers of international alliances, mergers and acquisitions remained and are still high (UNCTAD data 2019).
|2020 BHC Meeting||Elizabeth Brake||Untitled|