Some recent examples

Our work

 ‌The group’s historical work is extensive, with particular emphasis on understanding agents, events and institutions linked with particular meanings and conditioning forces.  History typically begins with events happening ‘at a time’ and is often concerned with representing these events in sequential order or in terms of their ‘significance.’

Inductive, archivally based, rooted in documentation, evidence, and contextualization and striving towards the creation of elegantly written narrative accounts it is a discipline that believes that a degree of ‘realism’ is achievable and worthwhile. But it does not stop at providing a structured account of ‘what happened.’

It is also about questioning how time is felt, how and why things matter, the sense people have of a future from amid their experience of the present and understanding of the past. It thus confronts the classic social science dichotomy between agency and structure – but again goes beyond to ask how we construct and understand those very concepts.

This means viewing organizational and commercial phenomena not only in date order, but also bringing into question the narratives we use as researchers to construct history, the assumptions we make about plot-lines, structural influences and identifiable events and the neat and distinct historical objects (eras, phases, ‘pre’ and ‘post’, ‘growth’) enabled by these assumptions.

  • Alan Southern is currently looking at how the trade through the (then) Mersey Docks and Harbour Board impacted on the local economy


    ... and how the syndicalist character of the workforce is important in reframing the city-region as entrepreneurial in its present context.

  • Andrew Popp is leading a major project that will complete a six volume A Cultural History of Business

    open-content-icon be published by Bloomsbury in 2018-19. 

  • Andrew Popp and Robin Holt have been writing on the potter Josiah Wedgwood


    Following their 2013 publication on emotion and succession at the firm of Josiah Wedgwood and Sons, Robin Holt and Andrew Popp have recently completed a second project on the same company. Their article on "Wedgwood, Craft and Manufacturing" will appear in the Journal of Design History in 2016.

    Andrew Popp, together with Prof. John Wilson, has also worked on the emergence of industrial districts in work that was both theoretical and empirical.


  • Dirk Lindebaum has explored the ethical implications of organizational neuroscience in particular when applied in the context of leadership.


    As part of this work, he has engaged in published exchanges with leading scholars in the organizaitonal neuroscience field. Together with Mike Zundel, he has also scrutinised the logic of reductionism entailed in the neuroscientific programme and highlighted a number of challenges to these approaches.

  • Rory Miller has a long standing interest in South and Latin America...


    ... studying Peruvian economic and social history, as well as the management and impact of British multinational firms on South and Latin American economies and their development. He also has a strong interest in the emergence of football as a global sporting industry, again largely in the context of South and Latin America.


  • Claes Belfrage’s work focuses on select European political economies to study the interrelation between financialisation, aestheticisation and politics.


    He is particularly interested in understanding the lived experience of agents, how it is shaped by capitalist institutions and the politics of articulating and implementing financialising strategies. He is working on two separate case studies: the contradictions of the par excellenceSocial Democratic Swedish case and the island micro-political economy of Iceland (with Eirikur Bergmann, Bifrost University, and David Berry, Swansea University). He typically seeks to periodise the historical background to contemporary developments and events in these cases. In this research, he is inspired by a range of critical approaches, concepts/notions and methods, including Regulation Theory, hegemony, aesthetics and aestheticisation, semiosis and ethnography. He also develops methods for the analysis of this data, including most recently Critical Grounded Theory (with Felix Hauf, Goethe-University of Frankfurt).

  • Popp and Holt tell the story of a Victorian proto entrepreneur – John Shaw


    ...first one way, using a standard rags to riches plot and established concepts like ‘opportunity’ or ‘persistence’, and then another way, using personal letters between Shaw and his wife. The second reading upsets the first, bringing the researcher’s reliance on concepts like opportunity into question, and even showing how Shaw himself is difficult to understand as in any way a distinct agent, so entwined was his own sense of life with that of his wife’s, Elizabeth.

  • Mike Zundel suggests that learning takes place through walking about, literally, rather than contemplation or reflection.


    Reversing the standard hierarchies of learning theory, he suggests managerial awareness - of problems, of good practice - can as readily emerge from movement as it does the static analysis of information. Whilst senior managerial work does indeed involve a somewhat sedentary allocation of resources informed by fixed representations such as company accounts, or market reports, this does not tell the whole story. Walking can be equally insightful.

  • Zundel and Holt (with Joep Cornelissen of VU University, Amsterdam) use the work of the anthropologist Gregory Bateson to follow on-going processes of strategic and institutional work in the TV series The Wire


    ... suggesting that fiction might be as valid a source of data as ‘real life’, and showing how analysis of organization need not always resort to the identification of static things (agents, institutions, goals) and causally restricted relationships. This work is being taken up by Thierry Viale, Zundel and Holt who are developing a theoretical review of institutional work studies.