The Visible Hand of History

Chinmay Tumbe

Chinmay Tumbe

Job Title

Alfred D. Chandler, Jr. International Visiting Scholar in Business History, 2018
HBS shows how business history can be a viable and thriving field of research and teaching in a business school, by offering great electives, unique research and pedagogical efforts...and a wonderful atmosphere of collegiality.

As the Alfred D. Chandler Jr. International Visiting Scholar at HBS in 2018, I was curious to learn more about the way business history is embedded in research and pedagogy in a business school, especially in the school where the discipline first emerged. Coming from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), which had partnered with HBS in the 1960s and which itself has a strong legacy in this field, I was particularly thrilled to imbibe new ideas and practices at work under the Business History Initiative of HBS and the larger academic community of the region.

HBS shows how business history can be a viable and thriving field of research and teaching in a business school, by offering great electives, unique research and pedagogical efforts such as the Creating Emerging Markets (CEM) Project, outstanding archival services through the Baker Library Special Collections and a wonderful atmosphere of collegiality. The weekly seminars on Business History and the video-based methodology of the CEM are just two among many takeaways I carry from the Business History Initiative. Learning about the projects of the Gender Initiative and taking a course on 'Black Business Leaders and Entrepreneurship' gave me a terrific opportunity to learn about how HBS engages with issues of gender, race, and diversity, sorely lacking in other business schools. 

HBS provided the perfect setting to pursue my upcoming projects on cities and India-America transnational connections. I met a new person nearly every day, from different research backgrounds spanning business, architecture, history, economics and even genetics. HBS, south of the River Charles and the wider Harvard community north of the river, is a veritable academic Disneyland. In between these two worlds, I also kayaked extensively along the Charles, meandering and reflecting on the richly historic setting of Boston. It helped that the Red Sox won the World Series during my stay, enabling me to view 'the visible hand' of history, to paraphrase Alfred Chandler, in all its autumn splendor!