Research strategies for organizational history:a dialogue between historical theory and organization theory

Abstract

If history matters for organization theory, then we need greater reflexivity regarding the epistemological problem of representing the past; otherwise, history might be seen as merely a repository of ready-made data. To facilitate this reflexivity, we set out three epistemological dualisms derived from historical theory to explain the relationship between history and organization theory: (1) in the dualism of explanation, historians are preoccupied with narrative construction, whereas organization theorists subordinate narrative to analysis; (2) in the dualism of evidence, historians use verifiable documentary sources, whereas organization theorists prefer constructed data; and (3) in the dualism of temporality, historians construct their own periodization, whereas organization theorists treat time as constant for chronology. These three dualisms underpin our explication of four alternative research strategies for organizational history: corporate history, consisting of a holistic, objectivist narrative of a corporate entity; analytically structured history, narrating theoretically conceptualized structures and events; serial history, using replicable techniques to analyze repeatable facts; and ethnographic history, reading documentary sources "against the grain." Ultimately, we argue that our epistemological dualisms will enable organization theorists to justify their theoretical stance in relation to a range of strategies in organizational history, including narratives constructed from documentary sources found in organizational archives. Copyright of the Academy of Management, all rights reserved.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2012.0203
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School
College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Economics, Finance & Entrepreneurship
Additional Information: Non-Commercial use of the CC License.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Management of Technology and Innovation,Strategy and Management,Business, Management and Accounting(all)
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Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
http://amr.aom. ... ontent/39/3/250 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2014-07-01
Authors: Rowlinson, Michael C.
Hassard, John
Decker, Stephanie (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-0547-9594)

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