Reimagining Business History

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Business history too readily behaves as a smaller and submissive sibling of economics and economic history. In Reimagining Business History, the authors suggest more expansive and rewarding possibilities, and their attempt to push the field beyond its unacknowledged limits is to be applauded. -- Paul Duguid, University of California, Berkeley

Table of Contents

Part I: Traps: Practices Business Historians Would Do Well to Avoid
1. Misplaced Concreteness
2. Not Recognizing That the State Is Always "In"
3. Periodization as a (Necessary) Constraint
4. Privileging the Firm
5. Retrospective Rationalization
6. Searching for a New Dominant Paradigm
7. Scientism
8. Taking Discourse at Face Value and Numbers for Granted
9. Taking the United States (or the West) as Normal and Normative
10. The Rush to the Recent
Part II: Opportunities: Thematic Domains
1. Artifacts
2. Creation and Creativity
3. Complexity
4. Improvisation
5. Microbusiness
6. The Military and War
7. Nonprofits and Quasi Enterprises
8. Public-Private Boundaries
9. Reflexivity
10. Ritual and Symbolic Practices
11. The Centrality of Failure
12. Varieties of Uncertainty
Part III: Prospects: Promising Themes in Developing Literatures
1. Deconstructing Property
2. Fraud and Fakery
3. From Empires to Emergent Nations
4. Gender
5. Professional Services
6. Projects
7. Reassessing Classic Themes
8. Standards
9. The Subaltern
10. Transnational Exchanges
11. Trust, Cooperation, and Networks
Part IV: Resources: Generative Concepts and Frameworks
1. Assumptions
2. Communities of Practice
3. Flows
4. Follow the Actors
5. Futures Past
6. Memory
7. Modernity
8. Risks
9. Spatiality
10. Time
Author Index
Subject Index

About the Author

Philip Scranton is University Board of Governors Professor, History of Industry and Technology, at Rutgers University and editor-in-chief of the journal Enterprise and Society. Patrick Fridenson is emeritus professor of international business history at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and founding editor of Entreprises et Histoire. Both are former presidents of the Business History Conference.


Reimagining Business History belongs in American history and business collections alike and provides new approaches to understanding the evolution of companies, corporate strategies, and resources. Midwest Book Review An important and provocative book, not only in terms of business history but also in terms of the wider discipline, as the authors' plea for greater interaction with other historians. -- Joe Martin American Historical Review I really hope that business historians will read this book, because it is apt to open new roads and strengthen the discipline in such a way as to make of it a more assertive component of the larger field of "Economic History," which cannot be left only to macro-econometricians. -- Vera Zamagni EH.Net

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