History, Society and Institutions

This cluster brings together interdisciplinary scholars sharing an interest in the study of organisational and institutional change in a global context of rapid economic restructuring, including technological innovation and socio-cultural transformation. Our research follows and brings together multiple perspectives, often from outside the standard sub-disciplines associated with Business and Management Studies, for example Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology and Economics, to shed light on how this change affects production, working life, consumption and (organized) life more generally.


Understanding the human condition also requires historical awareness. We not only study the emergence of organizations such as firms or trade bodies using analyses of historical figures and time-based events, but also the experience of being part of this emergence. Our work investigates aspects of time and timing and the role of technology both in empirical studies as well as through analytical and reflective contributions. We consider the lessons of history crucial in understanding the present and future, not only to grasp continuities, but also to be able to identify radical societal change


Globalisation has altered the influence of old institutions, such as the nation state, the church or even the university. New interorganisational networks comprising global value and wealth chains, professions and international organisations fill crucial spaces in the governance of the practices and experiences of individuals and communities, equally subject to global industrial restructuring in what is often called the ‘4th industrial revolution’. Understanding societies of our time therefore requires understanding these wider ramifications of technological innovation and shifting organisational forms and its impact on work, the distribution of power and wealth, as well as societal cohesion. We are concerned with what it is like to live in this world, whether as managers, employees, consumers – or academics.


Investigating how material wealth production informs and is ordered by other social and institutional settings, we remain aware that producing wealth is more than producing economic returns. Studying processes of institutionalization in terms of unfolding relational patterns over time helps understanding the agency of individuals and collectives. These concerns allow us to expand the phenomena of interest for a Management school, and also to extend the criteria of meaning by which we investigate and ‘explain’ these phenomena. The work of the research cluster is involved in diverse issues including family (business) relations, emotion, aesthetics, the nature of craft, learning, international trade flows, technology, co-operative movements, financialization, policy making, global governance and elites. Our theoretical inspirations encompass social and political theory, phenomenology, ecological thinking and institutional theory. Methodologically, we work with a range of pertinent methods, including archival research, interviews, ethnography, focus groups, discourse analysis and statistical methods.