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Why business historians need a constructive theory of the archive


  • Schwarzkopf, Stefan


Archival records are a constitutive element of business historical research, and such research, in turn, is fundamental for a holistic understanding of the role of enterprise in modern capitalist societies. Despite an increasing debate within business history circles about the need to theorize the historian as author and creator of narratives, a fuller reflection on the uses and limitations of the archive in business historical research has not yet taken place. This article takes its lead from theories of organisational epistemology, and asks to what extent business historians are trapped by an outdated, realist methodology and epistemology which is in danger of ignoring the multiple roles that archives play in their knowledge production.

Suggested Citation

  • Schwarzkopf, Stefan, 2013. "Why business historians need a constructive theory of the archive," MPRA Paper 46650, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:46650

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Charles Harvey & John Wilson, 2007. "Redefining Business History: An editorial statement," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(1), pages 1-7.
    2. Hansen, Per H., 2012. "Business History: A Cultural and Narrative Approach," Business History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 86(04), pages 693-717, December.
    3. Casson, Mark & Lee, John S., 2011. "The Origin and Development of Markets: A Business History Perspective," Business History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 85(01), pages 9-37, March.
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    1. Do business historians need a theory of the archive?
      by stephdeck1 in NEP-HIS blog on 2013-10-07 18:06:28

    More about this item


    Business History; Methodology; Epistemology; Archives; Organizational Epistemology; Sociology of Knowledge;

    JEL classification:

    • B00 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - General - - - History of Economic Thought, Methodology, and Heterodox Approaches
    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology
    • N01 - Economic History - - General - - - Development of the Discipline: Historiographical; Sources and Methods
    • N80 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - General, International, or Comparative

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