Upcoming Events

Business History Seminar

Held in Chao Center, Elaine Conference Room 300 from 3:30 to 5:00 PM on most Mondays in the fall. These seminars are organized by Kristin Fabbe, Geoffrey Jones, and Meg Rithmire. For more information, please contact the Business History Initiative at bhi@hbs.edu.

  • Sep25
    • 25 Sep 2017
    • Business History Seminar

    “Co-ethnic Capital in Coastal China and India: The Developmental Diasporas of Guangdong and Kerala”

    Kellee Tsai, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
  • Oct02
    • 02 Oct 2017
    • Business History Seminar

    “The Economics of World War II in Southeast Asia”

    Gregg Huff, Oxford University
  • Oct16
    • 16 Oct 2017
    • Business History Seminar

    “Legal Change and Business Enterprise in the Middle East, 1850 to Present”

    Seven Agir, Middle East Technical University, Turkey
  • Oct23
    • 23 Oct 2017
    • Business History Seminar

    “The Origins of Ethnic Orders and the Political Economy of Identity in Malaysia”

    Thomas Pepinsky, Cornell University
  • Oct30
    • 30 Oct 2017
    • Business History Seminar

    “International Organizations in the Interwar Years: Microcosms of the Global”

    Carolyn Biltoft , Graduate Institute Geneva, Switzerland
  • Nov06
    • 06 Nov 2017
    • Business History Seminar

    “Politics, Institutions, and Diversified Business Groups: Comparisons across Developed Countries”

    Ben Schneider, MIT

Past Events

Conferences, Seminars, & Workshops

  • Jul14
    • 14 Jul 2017
    • Conference

    Oral History, Business History and Business Archives in India

    This one-day conference held at the Harvard Business School India Research Center in Mumbai brought together business historians, business archivists, and business practitioners to discuss the role of oral history in the growth of business history in India.

    Geoffrey Jones discussed the Creating Emerging Markets project and how the oral histories being generated were being used in both teaching and research. Chinmay Tumbe (IIM-Ahmedabad) reviewed how oral history had developed in India and its role in business history. Among other recent initiatives he discussed "itihaasa", a project to document the growth of the Indian IT industry through oral history.

    The second half of the conference heard presentations from the Chief Archivists of two of the most important corporate archives in India. Vrunda Pathare (Godrej Group) discussed her group’s oral history program, which has undertaken audio interviews with dozens of present and former staff. These interviews, which can be consulted at the Archives, are noteworthy for capturing the memories of present and former staff at all levels of the organization. Finally Usha Iyer (Cipla Ltd) explored the challenges of making business archives relevant within her own company, noting how she employed innovative and proactive social networking strategies to build a strategic presence.

    Throughout the day participants explored the continuing methodological challenges in conducting oral history, including the choice between audio and video recordings, and the language in which such interviews should be conducted. The urgent need to develop agreed standards was stressed by many participants. There was also considerable discussion of the ongoing challenges faced by researchers who sought to use oral history material in academic journals.

  • Jun29
    • 29 Jun 2017
    • Conference

    Capitalism and the Senses

    This one-day workshop brought together scholars from various disciplines, including marketing, history, and anthropology, to explore how businesses developed marketing strategies to appeal to consumers’ senses from the nineteenth century to today. Attention to sensory appeals became a crucial part of business strategies in the modern consumer-oriented economy. The workshop encouraged participants to explore such themes as the creation of sensory experience in modern capitalist society from cross-cultural perspectives, the impact of technological development on sensory perception, the commercialization of the senses, and the construction of knowledge about the senses. The program featured HBS faculty Gerald Zaltman and John Quelch, as well as prominent scholars in the studies of the senses and the history of science, David Howes, Steven Shapin, and David Suisman.
  • Jun05
    • 05 Jun 2017
    • Conference

    Digital Technologies in the Social Sciences

    While the use of new technologies in the humanities and social sciences has exploded in recent years, little sustained attention has been given to questions of how these techniques can contribute to business and economic history. Digitized sources can improve our access to materials and can help us place our own individual case studies into broader contexts. But have digital projects provided any real and original blueprints for changing our historical methodologies and rethinking our conclusions? This international workshop at Harvard Business School brought together experts at the forefront of the application of new technologies to the study of economic and business history, as well as to the history of political economy, to explore different projects, technologies, and techniques in the field and assess the degree to which digital resources can change our scholarly approaches or result in new discoveries. In addition to allowing practitioners at the vanguard of the digital social sciences to interact, exchange ideas, and codify best practices, the workshop focused on the question of whether digital techniques simply aid us in confirming our hypotheses with more or better visualized data or whether digital approaches can enable us to ask radical new questions.​
  • Mar27
    • 27 Mar 2017
    • Conference

    Stakeholder Capitalism in Turbulent Times

    This event celebrated the launch of the English language edition of a new study of Shibusawa Eiichi, a serial entrepreneur in nineteenth century Japan, who was an exponent of what is now called stakeholder capitalism. During the contemporary crisis of global capitalism, Shibusawa’s ideas have again become relevant and meaningful. The program featured HBS’s Geoff Jones and George Serafeim, leading European and Japanese business historians Patrick Fridenson, Janet Hunter and Takkeo Kikkawa, and prominent Boston business leader Larry Fish.
  • Feb13
    • 13 Feb 2017
    • Conference

    Creating Emerging Markets: Lessons from History

    This conference, held in Mumbai, brought together business practitioners, policy makers, and scholars in South Asia to discuss how the new materials being generated by the BHI’S Creating Emerging Markets project can shed light on key issues facing South Asian businesses now. These include spurring innovation, managing family business, relations with governments, and corporate responsibility. The broader agenda explored and debated what we can learn from history at a time of turbulent change. The sessions were moderated by HBS Professors Srikant Datar, Geoffrey Jones and Tarun Khanna.

    You can find more information on the conference website.

  • Dec05
    • 05 Dec 2016
    • Business History Seminar

    “Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff”

    Edward Balleisen, Duke University
  • Nov28
    • 28 Nov 2016
    • Business History Seminar

    “World's Apart: The Cold War in the 20th Century”

    Arne Westad, Harvard University
  • Nov14
    • 14 Nov 2016
    • Business History Seminar

    “Corporate Ownership and Vertical Integration into Selling, 1857-1883”

    Eric Hilt, Wellesley College
  • Nov07
    • 07 Nov 2016
    • Business History Seminar

    “Shaping Computers and the Computing Industry in the United States, 1940-2010”

    Lars Heide, HBS (Visiting Fellow) and Copenhagen Business School
  • Oct28
    • 28 Oct 2016
    • Conference

    Varieties of Big Business: Business Groups in the West

    Organized by David Collis, Asli Colpan, and Geoffrey Jones

    This conference brought together scholars interested in business strategy and organization, governance, and economic development. The discussions explored the long-term evolution and developmental role of different varieties of large enterprises in the developed economies of North America and Western Europe, focusing on understudied business groups. This conference also examined nation-specific large-enterprise economies and the diversified business groups within them, and the resilience, stagnation or disappearance of the business group organization in international perspectives.

  • Oct17
    • 17 Oct 2016
    • Business History Seminar

    “States, Not Nation: The Sources of Political and Economic Development in the Early United States”

    Naomi Lamoreaux, Yale University
  • Jul15
    • 15 Jul 2016
    • Conference

    Capturing Contemporary Latin American Business History: Oral History and Digital Resources

    The Capturing Contemporary Latin American Business History: Oral History and Digital Resources conference was held in Santiago, Chile, on July 15, 2016. The full-day event was focused on how the new materials generated by the Business History Initiative’s Creating Emerging Markets project could transform research and teaching in management studies and business history in Latin America. Scholars and educators came from leading universities in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Peru, including Universidad de San Andrés, CONICET, Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Universidad del Desarrollo, CIEPLAN, Universidad Adolfo Ibañez, Universidad de Los Andes, and Univesidad del Pacífico. Each session focused on a group of interviews, and explored how they can be used in scholarly publications and in the classroom. There were lively discussions throughout the day about the relevancy and use of oral history in research, and about the use digital methodologies including video in the classroom. An important component of the event was learning from past interviews to prepare for a new set of CEM interviews planned in the region over the following twelve months, which will pay special attention to business leaders in Colombia and Peru. The event was jointly organized with the Regional Office in Santiago of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.
  • Apr29
    • 29 Apr 2016
    • Conference

    Experience, Logics and the Science of Trade in the Long 18th Century

    Experience, Logics and the Science of Trade in the Long 18th Century: This conference was organized by Sophus Reinert and Christine Zabel of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University. This conference addressed the relationship between theory and practice in European political economy in the 18th century. Among the universities represented by the presenters were MIT, New York University, London School of Economics and Political Science, Pitzer College, and Columbia University.
  • Nov30
    • 30 Nov 2015
    • Conference

    The HBS Medici Collection: Understanding the History of Renaissance Business

    The HBS Medici Collection: Understanding the History of Renaissance Business: This conference, organized by Sophus Reinert along with Robert Fredona (Harvard), Thomas Hyry (Houghton Library), Laura Linard (Baker Library) and Daniel Lord Smail (Harvard History) explored the business and personal activities of six generations of one branch of Florence's Medici family. Baker Library holds the largest collection of Renaissance Florentine account books outside Italy. The Medici Collection, which comprises more than 150 ledgers and other manuscript volumes, it contains an abundance of unique materials from the late 14th to the early 18th century, with the vast bulk dating from 1400 to 1600. These lectures and workshops explored the richness and potential for research of the Medici Collection.
  • Oct30
    • 30 Oct 2015
    • Conference

    The Business History of India and South Asia: Recent Trends in Research

    The Business History of India and South Asia: Recent Trends in Research: This conference, organized by Geoffrey Jones and Walter Friedman, surveyed recent scholarship on the history of business in India and South Asia. It brought together faculty and students from a range of disciplines, including economic and business history, economics, political science, and strategy. The conference focused on the nature of business-government relations, the role of families in business, the rise of corporate social responsibility, and the challenges and opportunities of globalization, including the role of the diaspora. The conference explored the potential of the new material generated by the BHI’s Creating Emerging Markets conference for teaching and research on South Asia.
  • Jun12
    • 12 Jun 2015
    • Conference

    The Political Economy of Food: Grown Locally and Consumed Globally

    The Political Economy of Food: Grown Locally and Consumed Globally: This conference, organized by Walter Friedman, Casey Lurtz, and Gunner Trumbull brought together scholars interested in the history of the food and agriculture industries from Columbia University, Carnegie-Mellon, Boston University, University of Virginia, and Dickinson College, and Harvard Business School. Helping to develop new and innovative perspective on the role of food in the history of global capitalism, discussions focused on the impact of increasingly international markets for agricultural products on local practices of production and consumption.
  • Nov21
    • 21 Nov 2014
    • Conference

    The History of Law and Business Organization

    The History of Law and Business Organization: This conference, organized by Tom Nicholas, Walter Friedman, and Geoffrey Jones assembled leading scholars to advance the study of the intersection of law and business organization. The conference explored the consequences of underlying legal structures for business and economic development. The key topics for discussion revolved around the type of legal form that is most conducive to economic development, and the presentations focused on the significance of the Anglo-American common-law tradition versus code-based legal systems.
  • Jun13
    • 13 Jun 2014
    • Conference

    Business History in Africa, Asia, and Latin America: Integrating Course Development and New Research

    Building on a June 2012 conference, this conference focused on course development in business history and the history of capitalism beyond the developed economies of Europe, the U.S., and East Asia. It will seek to leverage existing expertise about the field from countries where it is more established, as well as the experience of other disciplines, including world history and international business. Topics discussed included how to integrate the latest research into teaching materials; new and innovative pedagogical methods, including web-based learning and the use of oral history; the availability of primary sources; and the different interests and requirements of students in business schools, history departments, and in graduate programs. Drawing on an extensive global survey of business history courses in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, speakers from around the globe shared their experiences concerning the challenges and opportunities of teaching business history.
  • Nov01
    • 01 Nov 2013
    • Conference

    New Perspectives on the History of Political Economy

    New Perspectives on the History of Political Economy: Organized by Sophus Reinert, the goal of the conference was to reconceptualize, through a variety of historical approaches, the origins and history of theories of political economy. The meeting brought together international thought leaders in the field of political economy with up-and-coming young scholars. Work is in progress on a volume edited by Robert Fredona and Sophus A. Reinert which will build on the conference proceedings, and which aims to set the agenda for future research in this growing and increasingly important field of study.