The Exchange: The BHC Weblog

Geoffrey Jones, the Isidor Straus Professor of Business History at the Harvard Business School, has recently published Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry (Oxford University Press, Feb. 2010).  In the words of the OUP blurb:

This book provides the first authoritative history of the global beauty industry from its emergence in the nineteenth century to the present day, exploring how today's global giants grew. It shows how successive generations of entrepreneurs built brands which shaped perceptions of beauty, and the business organizations needed to market them. They democratized access to beauty products, once the privilege of elites, but they also defined the gender and ethnic borders of beauty, and its association with a handful of cities, notably Paris and later New York. The result was a homogenization of beauty ideals throughout the world.
    Today globalization is changing the beauty industry again; its impact can be seen in a range of competing strategies. Global brands have swept into China, Russia, and India, but at the same time, these brands are having to respond to a far greater diversity of cultures and lifestyles as new markets are opened up worldwide.

 Interested readers can find a video of Professor Jones discussing the book, as well as an interview on the HBS site "Working Knowledge" and a post on the Oxford University Press blog.

The contents of the June 2010 Enterprise & Society are now posted on the Oxford University Press website and can be accessed by BHC members and other subscribers.  Articles include:

David M. Higgins and Dev Gangjee
    “ ‘Trick or Treat?’ The Misrepresentation of American Beef Exports in Britain during the Late Nineteenth Century”

Javier Fernández Roca
    “Monks and Businessmen in Catalonia: The Benedictines of Montserrat, 1900–1936”

Thomas B. Heinrich
    “Jack of All Trades: Cramp Shipbuilding, Mixed Production, and the Limits of Flexible Specialization in American Warship Construction, 1940–1945”

Pál Germuska
    “Military Industry versus Military-Related Firms in Socialist Hungary: Disintegration and Integration of Military Production during the 1950s and Early 1960s

Marcelo Bucheli
    “Multinational Corporations, Business Groups, and Economic Nationalism: Standard Oil (New Jersey), Royal Dutch-Shell, and Energy Politics in Chile, 1913–2005”

A reminder that the deadline for the International Economic History Association's first call for session proposals for the XVIth World Economic History Conference is 1 September 2010.  The 2012 World Congress will be held at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, 9-13 July 2012. The theme is "Exploring the Roots of Development"; the IEHA is therefore looking for "sessions on the period before 1800 and sessions that include countries other than those of Western Europe and North America.," though all topics in economic history, history of economics, demographic, social, urban, and cultural history, as well as in gender studies and methodology will be considered.  The IEHA has a two-tier proposal system, with a second round of proposals opening in October. For complete directions and conference information, please see the full call for papers on the IEHA website.

The April 2010 issue of Historically Speaking has a forum on the state of the field of economic history.  The lead essay, "Is Economic History a Neglected Field of Study?" by Robert Whaples of Wake Forest University, is followed by responses from Philip T. Hoffman, Deirdre N. McCloskey, Joel Mokyr, and Werner Troesken, with a reply from Whaples. The entire forum is available through Project Muse or via subscription, but the Historical Society blog has a brief introduction from each essay.

The April 12, 2010, issue of The Chronicle Review discusses Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women's Activism and the Beauty Industry, by Tiffany Gill of the University of Texas, Austin. As the reviewers comment:

Again and again in Beauty Shop Politics, the reader is reminded that the hairdressing profession gave women the security to pursue political activity. . . . Gill takes her subject matter from antebellum to contemporary times and considers it through multiple lenses. The scope of the material and interdisciplinary scholarship evident throughout the book makes Beauty Shop Politics a comprehensive addition to the bookshelves of women's studies, African-American studies, and entrepreneurial studies, as well as to history, business, and political-science departments. It is a truly interdisciplinary endeavor.

The full article is available only through personal or library subscription.

Update: An interview with Professor Gill discussing her research at an early stage in 2004 is available on the University of Texas, Austin, website.

Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance, by Nouriel Roubini and BHC member Stephen Mihm of the University of Georgia, is reviewed in the "Books of the Times" section of the May 7 New York Times. An excerpt from the book is provided.

The latest number of the on-line journal Common-Place is a special issue on "Hard Times." As Cathy Matson writes in her essay on "Flimsy Fortunes":

Americans' fascination with making their dollars grow through paper speculating, and their fortunes and failures resulting from it, has been a subject of scholarly interest for a long time. Historians have chronicled credit and investment schemes beginning in the late-colonial years and continuing in every era of American history. In the two hundred years between the Revolution and the 1980s, over a dozen episodes of overextended credit or speculative frenzies grew into full-fledged financial panics, some followed by years of depression.

The richly illustrated issue includes:

Michael Zakim
The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Thomas Augst
A Drunkard's Story

Edward E. Baptist
Toxic Debt, Liar Loans, and Securitized Human Beings

Oz Frankel
Hard Facts for Hard Times

Pierre Gervais
A Game of Claims and Expectations

Roy Kreitner
When Banks Fail

Jessica Lepler
Pictures of Panic

Noam Maggor
Hard Times
[An essay on "Bubbles, Panics, & Crashes: A Century of Financial Crises," Baker Library Historical Collections, HBS]

Cathy Matson
Flimsy Fortunes

Sharon Ann Murphy
"Doomed … to eat the bread of dependency"?

Jonathan Prude
Images of Want

A brief listing of new and forthcoming books of interest to business and economic historians:

Tracey Deutsch, Building a Housewife's Paradise: Gender, Politics, and American Grocery Stores in the Twentieth Century (University of North Carolina Press, May 2010; ISBN 9780807833278);
 Richard R. John, Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications (Harvard University Press, May 2010; ISBN 9780674024298);
James R. Fichter, So Great a Profitt: How the East Indies Trade Transformed American Capitalism (Harvard University Press, May 2010; ISBN 9780674050570);
Mara L. Keire, For Business and Pleasure: Red-Light Districts and the Regulation of Vice in the United States, 1890–1933 (Johns Hopkins University Press, Spring 2010; ISBN 9780801894138);
Ann Carlos and Frank D. Lewis, Commerce by a Frozen Sea: Native Americans and the European Fur Trade (University of Pennsylvania Press,  May 2010; ISBN 9780812242317).

A call for papers has been issued for a workshop to be held at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., on February 18-19, 2011: "Going Global: Internationalization Pathways for Family Firms during the 19th and 20th Century." The conveners are Christina Lubinski (Harvard Business School, GHI), Paloma Fernández Pérez (Universitat de Barcelona), and Jeff Fear (University of Redlands). The conference will focus on family businesses as international actors, gathering an international group of scholars to discuss the various strategies and pathways for internationalization that family businesses pursued during the nineteenth and twentieth century. Paper proposals (two pages maximum) are welcome for all sessions from both young and established scholars from different countries and disciplines, including business history, economic history, economics, sociology and psychology. Each session is devoted to international comparative studies that will identify and evaluate internationalization pathways in different family businesses and countries. Proposals should include an abstract of the paper and a curriculum vitae in English and should be submitted by July 1, 2010. For a complete discussion of possible topics and submission information, please see the call for papers on the GHI site.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History has made its archive of more than seventy podcasts freely available, though users must register and sign in on the GLI website. Talks of particular interest to business historians include:

David M. Kennedy, on the Great Depression and World War II
Jean Strouse, on J. P. Morgan
Edward Ayers, on Slavery and the Early American Economy

For a full list of available podcasts, visit:

The April 2010 Industrial and Corporate Change is a special issue, guest edited by William Lazonick and David Teece, titled "Management Innovation: Essays in the Spirit of Alfred D. Chandler, Jr." A partial table of contents includes:

David J. Teece

“Alfred Chandler and ‘Capabilities’ Theories of Strategy and Management”

William Lazonick

“The Chandlerian Corporation and the Theory of Innovative Enterprise”

Richard R. Nelson and David J. Teece

“A Discussion with Richard Nelson on the Contributions of Alfred Chandler”

Sidney G. Winter and David J. Teece

“A Conversation with Sidney Winter on the Contributions of Alfred Chandler”

Louis Galambos

“The Role of Professionals in the Chandler Paradigm”

David C. Mowery

“Alfred Chandler and Knowledge Management within the Firm”

Mary A. O’Sullivan

           “Finance Capital in Chandlerian Capitalism”

For full information, see the issue's table of contents page at the Oxford University Press journals site.