Sustaining `Canada:’ Management Theory,
History and `Canadian Sensibilities.’
Albert J. Mills
Sobey School of Business
Sai...
The Importance of History for Management
and Organizational Studies (MOS)
Albert J. Mills
Sobey School of Business
Saint M...
Reflections from the Canadian Sociology
of Management Knowledge Network
• Gabie Durepos (StFx)
• Trish Genoe McLaren (WLU)...
Links to Previous Talk
 Human ecology (impact of social construction
of human being and human divisions)
 The production...
Which Albert Mills?
 Read Mills 2014
Learning from History
 “Those who fail to learn from history are
doomed to repeat it” – Winston Churchill
 `Those who fa...
Purpose of the Talk
 Reflections on:
- Importance of history for MOS
- Problematic of history
- Production of history
- C...
Lessons from Stephen Harper
 History is important
 History is problematic
 History is (socio)political
 History has pr...
History as Important (sic)
For Stephen Harper, History is an important element in
the sustainability of Canada as a proud ...
History as Problematic
 In his quest for history projects, like all history
projects, Mr. Harper faced issues of what to
...
History as Problematic!!
History as (Socio-Politics)
 `The Canadian Museum of Civilization, the country's largest
museum, will be rebranded as the...
The Consequences of History
 In accounts of the past, the choices we make in
what and who to focus on can have profound
c...
History and MOS?
 What can possibly go wrong . . . .?
The Consequences of historical
production in MOS
 Field definition that overly draws on private
and corporate sector comp...
The Consequences of historical
production in MOS
 Selected `founding fathers’ (e.g., Taylor v
Emerson; Dennison V. Mayo –...
The Consequences of historical
production in MOS
 Absence of histories of management theory
development in Canada (Austin...
History and MOS
 Over much of the past two decades there
have been various calls for an historic turn in
Management & Org...
Approaches to History in MOS
 Factual (Wren): the past consists of a number
of events that can help us make sense of the
...
Approaches to History in MOS
 Methodological (Booth & Rowlinson): a
focus on the methodological framing of the
past can h...
Overall argument for the historic turn
– the importance of history
 Factual: “Everything about the management discipline
...
Overall argument for the historic turn
– the importance of history
Contextual: To understand contemporary institutions it
...
Overall argument for the historic turn
– the importance of history
subjecting theories of organizational change to a
more ...
Overall argument for the historic turn
– the importance of history
 Methodological: diverse historical methods help to
re...
Overall argument for the historic turn
– the importance of history
 Epistemic: a focus on the role of History and
its pro...
The problem with history and the
past.
 Ontological
 Epistemological
 Methodological
 Paradigmatic differences
Ontological
 Questions about the ontological character of the past and its
relationship to history.
 Factual approach: t...
Epistemological
 Questions about the relationship between the past and
history.
 Factual: views the past-as-history. Wha...
Methodological
 Questions about how to study the relationship
between the past and history.
 Much of what counts as hist...
Methodological
 Factual: collecting historical facts through well established
objectivist methods. [Often not revealed in...
Four Paradigms of Organizational
History
The factual approach --aligned with positivism in the
argument that “if organiza...
Four Paradigms of Organizational
History
 The contextual approach -- focuses on the
role of narrative in the social const...
Exemplar: Hayden White
 1) the past consists of innumerable, disparate elements that, by
definition, cannot be brought ba...
White’s Narrative Genres
 Emplotment –
 Romance (e.g., heroic individual)
 Tragedy (e.g., influence of fate on events)
...
Four Paradigms of Organizational
History
 The archaeo-genealogical approach – explores through “language
the sedimented e...
Exemplar: Mills (2006)
Juncture: “a concurrence of events in time in
which a series of images, impressions, and
experience...
British Airways, Culture and Gender
 #1. The development of an all male organization (1919-24);
 #2. The introduction an...
Four Paradigms of Organizational
History
 ANTi-History – builds on SoK, Poststructuralist History, ANT
(Durpos & Mills, 2...
Four Paradigms of Organizational
History
 5. Views actor-networks as materially heterogeneous
 6. History is viewed as a...
Lessons from the Historic Turn
 History is important for a variety of reasons
 History is highly problematic
 Raising i...
Lessons from the Historic Turn
 Need to explore issue of divergence and
fusion of history and MOS – linked through
knowle...
On-Going and Future Research
 Reassembling Canadian Management
Knowledge: Dispersion, Equity, Identity and
History
(Colle...
On-Going and Future Research
 Examination of how historical accounts
develop and are used to re/produce gendered
relation...
On-Going and Future Research
 How management knowledge in Canada is
developed and disseminated and what are the
implicati...
On-Going and Future Research
 Seeking to deconstruct the meta-discursive
character of history that ultimately binds us to...
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Asac 2014

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  • Speaks to importance of history
  • The value of history to MOS depends on the researcher focus.
  • see Hofstede (1980, 1991) who found that `cultural differences between organizational structures reflect difference in value systems’ rooted in historical development
    See Khurana, 2007 on `the modern manager’ and the development of the business school)
  • “Universalist” [applying across time and geographic location]
    “Presentist” ‘(decontextualized)
    “Scientifistic (an excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge and techniques)
    Challenging us to rethink our methodological approaches to MOS
  • See New Deal Paper.
  • Including the contribution of
  • Asac 2014

    1. 1. Sustaining `Canada:’ Management Theory, History and `Canadian Sensibilities.’ Albert J. Mills Sobey School of Business Saint Mary’s University
    2. 2. The Importance of History for Management and Organizational Studies (MOS) Albert J. Mills Sobey School of Business Saint Mary’s University
    3. 3. Reflections from the Canadian Sociology of Management Knowledge Network • Gabie Durepos (StFx) • Trish Genoe McLaren (WLU) • Jean Helms Mills (SMU) • Amy Thurlow (MSVU) • Terry Weatherbee (Acadia U) • Kristene Coller (U Lethbridge)
    4. 4. Links to Previous Talk  Human ecology (impact of social construction of human being and human divisions)  The production of knowledge (how do we `know’ certain things and how can we change what we know).
    5. 5. Which Albert Mills?  Read Mills 2014
    6. 6. Learning from History  “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” – Winston Churchill  `Those who fail to learn from the ontological status of history are doomed to reproduce its myths’ – Weatherbee, Durepos, Mills & Helms Mills 2012.
    7. 7. Purpose of the Talk  Reflections on: - Importance of history for MOS - Problematic of history - Production of history - Consequences of history  Focus on two issues of engagement – gender and Canadian history
    8. 8. Lessons from Stephen Harper  History is important  History is problematic  History is (socio)political  History has profound consequences
    9. 9. History as Important (sic) For Stephen Harper, History is an important element in the sustainability of Canada as a proud and important nation: “I was heartened to learn of this [National Capital History Day] innovative celebration of Canadian history. . . [as] a valuable forum for celebrating the rich heritage that links our captivating past to a vibrant future.” Prime Minister Stephen Harper, April, 29, 2014
    10. 10. History as Problematic  In his quest for history projects, like all history projects, Mr. Harper faced issues of what to focus on and where to begin . . . .
    11. 11. History as Problematic!!
    12. 12. History as (Socio-Politics)  `The Canadian Museum of Civilization, the country's largest museum, will be rebranded as the Canadian Museum of History to reflect a focus on the country's social and political history’ - Heritage Minister James Moore  The controversy over the Museum of Civilization reveals not simply the big `P’ politics of history- making but the socio-politics of determining what counts as history.
    13. 13. The Consequences of History  In accounts of the past, the choices we make in what and who to focus on can have profound consequences. For example, an over focus on great battles and generals can serve to privilege the military, masculinity and colonial powers while marginalizing women, femininity, indigenous peoples, and the working class people who helped to build Canada
    14. 14. History and MOS?  What can possibly go wrong . . . .?
    15. 15. The Consequences of historical production in MOS  Field definition that overly draws on private and corporate sector companies, to the exclusion of crown/state corporations, cooperatives, communes (Foster et al., 2014)  Absence of context in which management histories are `written’ (e.g., impact of the Cold War – Cooke et al, 2006)
    16. 16. The Consequences of historical production in MOS  Selected `founding fathers’ (e.g., Taylor v Emerson; Dennison V. Mayo – Muldoon, 2012); The retrospective positioning of Weber (Weatherbee at al 2014); `writing in’ of the Human Relations school; ignoring the role of Mary Parker Follett; privileging US/Eurocentric theoretical positions over voices of `the South’ (Colado, 2010).
    17. 17. The Consequences of historical production in MOS  Absence of histories of management theory development in Canada (Austin, 2000; Boothman, 2000). Writing out or neglect?  Ignoring cultural differences in `reading’/presenting management history (McQuarrie 2005)  Absence of histories of `Canadian’ contributions to management theory development.
    18. 18. History and MOS  Over much of the past two decades there have been various calls for an historic turn in Management & Organization Studies.  Daniel Wren (USA)  Barbara Austin (Canada)  Barry Boothman (Canada)  Alfred Kieser (Germany)  Charles Booth and Mick Rowlinson (UK)  Gabie Durepos & Albert J, Mills (Canada)
    19. 19. Approaches to History in MOS  Factual (Wren): the past consists of a number of events that can help us make sense of the present and the future. We can make cognitive decisions based on history.  Contextual (Kieser): the past is embedded in a number of contextual factors that influence how we experience/make sense of things in the present.
    20. 20. Approaches to History in MOS  Methodological (Booth & Rowlinson): a focus on the methodological framing of the past can help us to understand the representation of theories of organization.  Epistemic (Durepos & Mills): a focus on how history is produced can help us to understand the production of (organizational) knowledge.
    21. 21. Overall argument for the historic turn – the importance of history  Factual: “Everything about the management discipline . . . comes from its inherited past. . . . History may not repeat itself, but it does provide a baseline for evaluating the significance of new theories and techniques, as well as appreciating the evolution of management thought across time and the contribution of our discipline’s leading thinkers” (Wren & Bedeian, 2009, p.xxv).  NOTE: Questions the ahistorical character of MOS
    22. 22. Overall argument for the historic turn – the importance of history Contextual: To understand contemporary institutions it important to know something of their historical development (Kieser, 1994: 609), by reducing the ideological biases that are embedded in “current `fashionable’ trends in [MOS]” (p.610): “interpret[ing] existing organizational structures not as determined by [objective] laws but as the result of decisions in past choice opportunities,”(p.611);
    23. 23. Overall argument for the historic turn – the importance of history subjecting theories of organizational change to a more radical test than they have to pass when merely being confronted with data on short-run changes” (p.612). NOTE: questions the decontextualized character of MOS
    24. 24. Overall argument for the historic turn – the importance of history  Methodological: diverse historical methods help to reveal the relationship between understandings of the past and extant understandings of organization - challenging the universalist, presentist, and scientifistic dominance in MOS. NOTE: Questions the dominance of positivist methodological approaches of MOS and MOH.
    25. 25. Overall argument for the historic turn – the importance of history  Epistemic: a focus on the role of History and its production as `knowledge of the past’ helps to reveal the processes of knowledge production within MOS  NOTE: questions the ontological status of knowledge in (History) and MOS
    26. 26. The problem with history and the past.  Ontological  Epistemological  Methodological  Paradigmatic differences
    27. 27. Ontological  Questions about the ontological character of the past and its relationship to history.  Factual approach: take a realist view of the past;  Contextual approach: argues that there is an important element of interpretation in assembling and presenting historical facts  Methodological approach: argues that so-called facts and their interpretation are mediated through different methodologies  Epistemic approach argue that the past is ontologically dissonant from history and history is an outcome of a series of relational associations.
    28. 28. Epistemological  Questions about the relationship between the past and history.  Factual: views the past-as-history. What is past is history and revealed through the relevant facts.  Contextual: history is a representation of the past.  Methodological: history as methodological construction of the past  Epistemic: history is an outcome of actor-network productions of the past.
    29. 29. Methodological  Questions about how to study the relationship between the past and history.  Much of what counts as historical analyses in business studies – whether by non-historians or historians (including business historians) – does not require the accompaniment of methodological justification: at its best “the copious notes detailing the location of sources in the archives are usually seen as sufficient methodological justification in their own right” (Booth & Rowlinson, 2006, p.9).  History often perceived as “myopic fact-collecting without a method” (Keiser,1994, p.612)
    30. 30. Methodological  Factual: collecting historical facts through well established objectivist methods. [Often not revealed in accounts].  Contextual: developing histories through narrative analyses of the established facts. [Sometimes revealed]  Methodological: meta analyses of the relationship between methods and the production of history. [Historical methods as subject]  Epistemic: tracing the production of various histories through actor-networks.[`Self consciously’ methodological]
    31. 31. Four Paradigms of Organizational History The factual approach --aligned with positivism in the argument that “if organization studies were to take account of the facts revealed by history then a number of erroneous assumptions would be undermined” (p.8). From this framework history is viewed as “a repository of facts which, so long as historians properly interpret them, can conveniently confirm or refute preferred or non-preferred theoretical positions in organization studies” (Rowlinson, 2004, p.10).
    32. 32. Four Paradigms of Organizational History  The contextual approach -- focuses on the role of narrative in the social construction of historical accounts. Here the argument is that history is not so much the skillfully crafted recounting of real, or factual, events from the past so much as a well crafted story about the past that is constructed by the historian through the careful use of narrative.
    33. 33. Exemplar: Hayden White  1) the past consists of innumerable, disparate elements that, by definition, cannot be brought back or reproduced;  2) the historian make choices about which of many stories (histories) to tell by selecting some elements of the past and ignoring others.  3) interpretation is compounded by the fact that he or she is faced with `traces’ (documents, memories, etc) that are themselves selected interpretations of the past;  4) in constructing a history, much like the novelist, the historian is constrained by a limited number of writing genres for telling a story
    34. 34. White’s Narrative Genres  Emplotment –  Romance (e.g., heroic individual)  Tragedy (e.g., influence of fate on events)  Comedy (e.g., individuals as part of organic whole)  Satire (e.g., a focus on chaos)  Tropes  metaphor (e.g., Machiavellian)  metonymy (e.g.,a word for an attribute - `suits’)  synecdoche (e.g., noun represents whole – hired hands)  Irony (e.g.,reference to a meaning’s opposite)
    35. 35. Four Paradigms of Organizational History  The archaeo-genealogical approach – explores through “language the sedimented evidence of the assumptions; the values; the common sense through which a phenomenon (e.g., madness) could have one set of meanings in one era and a contradictory set of meanings in another” (Jacques, 2010: 305); examination of “the conditions under which the different ways of interpreting and evaluating ourselves have come to exist” (Poutanen & Kovalainen, 2010: 263).  The purpose of the genealogical method is to analyze and excavate the taken-for-granted” assumptions that define the present.
    36. 36. Exemplar: Mills (2006) Juncture: “a concurrence of events in time in which a series of images, impressions, and experiences come together, giving the appearance of a coherent whole that influences how an organization is understood” (Mills, 2010: 509). [Related to Foucauldian notion of episteme and Annales School’s mentalities.]
    37. 37. British Airways, Culture and Gender  #1. The development of an all male organization (1919-24);  #2. The introduction and growth of female employment within BA (1924-39);  #3. The war years and the rapid expansion of female employment (1940-45);  #4 The consolidation and `normalization’ of female employment (1946-1960);  #5 The eroticization of female labour (1960-74);  #6 The organization as the site of equity struggles (1974-81);  #7 The development and consolidation of professionalized female labour (1981-91);  #8 The emergence of a new juncture focused on female management and leadership (1991-). (Mills, 1994b).
    38. 38. Four Paradigms of Organizational History  ANTi-History – builds on SoK, Poststructuralist History, ANT (Durpos & Mills, 2010)  1. Focuses on the constitution of the past as an outcome of the socio-politics of actor networks.  2. Does not begin by assuming what it is that the researcher wishes to explain or imposing a plot  3.Maps the socio-past by following a series of socio-politics of actor-networks, to understand how they construct their past.  4. Privileges the voice of the actors over that of the historian and privileges the empirical over the theoretical when (re)assembling the traces of the socio-past.
    39. 39. Four Paradigms of Organizational History  5. Views actor-networks as materially heterogeneous  6. History is viewed as an effect of the interest driven socio-politics of actor-networks  7. Sees ‘history’ as a punctuated actor or a black box  8. Explores the conditions for the favourable dispersion of a `punctuated history  9. Acknowledges/exposes the potential instrumentality of historical accounts  10. Makes transparent the socio-political conditions of the creation of history.  (Based on Durepos, 2009; see also Mills & Durepos, 2010 & Bryman et al, 2011)
    40. 40. Lessons from the Historic Turn  History is important for a variety of reasons  History is highly problematic  Raising issues of ontology, epistemology, and methodology  Suggests we need to understand how knowledge is produced  Suggests we need to question the meta- discoursive character of History/history
    41. 41. Lessons from the Historic Turn  Need to explore issue of divergence and fusion of history and MOS – linked through knowledge production
    42. 42. On-Going and Future Research  Reassembling Canadian Management Knowledge: Dispersion, Equity, Identity and History (Coller et al., 2014; 2015; MacNeil, 2014, McNally, 2014, McLaren & Mills, 2015; Foster et al, 2014a, 2014b; Hartt, et al., 2012).
    43. 43. On-Going and Future Research  Examination of how historical accounts develop and are used to re/produce gendered relations (“tradition,” the past).  The role of organizational history and gendered relations in organizations (Hartt et al 2010); history and intersectionality (Weigand et al, 2014; Paludi et al, 2014)
    44. 44. On-Going and Future Research  How management knowledge in Canada is developed and disseminated and what are the implications for gender, cultural and national gaps in its production.  Seeking to deconstruct the dominant US- centric historical account to open up the possibility of multiple historical accounts
    45. 45. On-Going and Future Research  Seeking to deconstruct the meta-discursive character of history that ultimately binds us to problematic and legitimizing truth claims.  Seeking to open space for debate about the richness of histories as powerful storytelling and sensemaking devices that are essential to the sustenance of the human condition.

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