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Methodological Openness in Business History Research: Looking Afresh at the British Interwar Management Movement

Lookup NU author(s): Gillian Shaw, Professor Charles Harvey



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Much thought has been accorded to the evolving nature of business history. It is only relatively recently, however, that attempts have been made to articulate methodological issues in a more epistemologically explicit and reflexive fashion. This article contributes to this burgeoning agenda. It does so by examining the methodology underpinning an intensive archival study of the British interwar management movement (1918-1939), a major force in British management education between the wars. We explicate the methodology employed and question what this material tells us about the British interwar management movement, in terms of its determination to modernize management, encourage openness between firms, and extend a new spirit of partnership. We show that the interwar management movement was characterized by organized cooperation and methodological openness. Our main contribution is to demonstrate that interpretations themselves can become entrenched and prone to inertia; inviting us to revisit these periodically and, if appropriate, recast them.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Maclean M, Shaw G, Harvey C, Stringer G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Business History Review

Year: 2022

Volume: 96

Issue: 4

Pages: 805-832

Online publication date: 08/02/2023

Acceptance date: 29/08/2022

Date deposited: 07/09/2022

ISSN (print): 0007-6805

ISSN (electronic): 2044-768X

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S0007680522000721


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