Business History Seminar

      Held in Baker 101  from 3:30 to 5:00 PM on Mondays in the fall.
      This year's theme is “Business and Political Economy.” This year the seminar papers deal with the intersection of business and politics and the history of economic thought. The seminar is organized by Walter Friedman, Sophus Reinert, and Laura Phillips  Sawyer. For more information, please contact Felice Whittum at Papers will be precirculated prior to each seminar.

    • Oct 06
      • 06 OCT 2014
      • Business History Seminar: Business & Political Economy

      Ferdinando Fasce, University of Genoa, Italy

      "Selling War, Promoting Business: U.S. Admen and PR as Cultural Mediators in the Two World Wars"

      This paper provides a comparative perspective on the role of admen and PR in World War I and World War II. It emphasizes both the continuities and discontinuities in this story. More broadly, it considers the circulation of ideas about economy, society, and politics during this time.

      • Oct 13
        • 13 OCT 2014

        Columbus Day

        No Seminar
      • Oct 20
        • 20 OCT 2014
        • Business History Seminar: Business & Political Economy

        Jeffrey Sklansky, University of Illinois Chicago

        "The Ideological Origins of Opposition to Paper Money: Medicine, Natural History, and Political Economy in Colonial New England"

        This paper explores the writings of William Douglass (1691-1752), a Scottish immigrant who became a preeminent physician, naturalist, and political polemicist in early eighteenth-century Boston. It examines the deep intellectual and social relations between his work in medicine, natural history, and political economy.

      • Oct 27
        • 27 OCT 2014
        • Business History Seminar: Business & Political Economy

        Robert Van Horn, University of Rhode Island

        “Corporate Funders, Edward Levi, and the Rise of Chicago Law and Economics in the 1950s”

        This paper analyzes the close connections between corporations and Chicago’s famous law and economics program. In particular, it examines the pivotal role that the scholar and statesman Edward Levi played in forging and maintaining this mutually beneficial relationship.

      • Nov 3
        • 3 NOV 2014
        • Business History Seminar: Business & Political Economy

        Brian Cheffins, University of Cambridge and HBS visiting fellow

        "Scoring U.S. Corporate Law Through Time"

        This paper provides the first systematic attempt to measure how U.S. corporate law has evolved since 1900. Using three indices developed to measure the relative strength of corporation law across nations, we “score” three key corporate law regimes from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day and show that, contrary to most academic accounts, protection afforded to shareholders has increased over time.

      • Nov 10
        • 10 NOV 2014
        • Business History Seminar: Business & Political Economy

        Stephen Mihm, University of Georgia

        "Standard Capitalism: Samuel Stratton, the Bureau of Standards, and the Origins of the Associative State"

        This paper looks at the role of the Bureau of Standards in promoting standardization via the promulgation of technical standards and codes in the opening decades of the twentieth century. These early efforts at standardization marked some of the first collaborations between government and private industry at standard-setting, a model that would reach its apogee in the 1920s before becoming discredited.

      • Nov 17
        • 17 NOV 2014
        • Business History Seminar: Business & Political Economy

        JoAnne Yates, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

        "The Role of Firms in Industrial Standards Setting: Participation, Process, and Balance" (cowritten with Craig Murphy)

        This paper examines the history of industrial standardization, showing that the voluntary consensus standard setting (VCSS) process that emerged around 1900 both encouraged participation of interested firms and discouraged interested behavior; to safeguard against railroading by a single interest, it balanced different interests. The paper then looks at the rise, in recent decades, of new standards-setting organizations and methods in the information and communication technology arena that challenge some of the principles underlying the VCSS process.


          Faculty Lunches

          Lunches are held from 12 to 1 PM. The next round will take place in spring 2015. For more information, please contact Felice Whittum at