- Professor of International Business History (Economic and Social History)
- 20th century German business and economic history
- competitiveness and internationalization of family/small and midsize businesses
- history of multinational business and international cartels
- comparative corporate governance and organization
- immigrant entrepreneurship
My research ranges across a variety of disciplines although topics tend to center on the nature and development of German business or German and American varieties of capitalism. At present I am researching and organizing collaborative projects on family or small and midsize businesses that are global champions in their market niche and, surprisingly often, multinational companies. The main research question is how such companies evolved in developed countries from their small business roots since the 1970s in the teeth of deindustrialization to become world market leaders and why Central Europe (Germany) appears to have a particular strength in this area. These firms are emerging multinationals from wealthier countries rather than emerging market multinationals or established transnationals. This topic bridges history, family business, entrepreneurship, and strategic management studies.
The second ongoing project is an ongoing website regarding German-American immigrant entrepreneurship between the Two World Wars. Based on individual biographies and with a rich documentary basis on-line, this project presents a mosaic of individual immigrants from Germany who helped make modern America “America” or Hollywood “Hollywood” such as Carl Laemmle (Universal Studios) or Albert Lasker (Lord & Thomas), a major advertising executive who created such famous brands as Sunkist oranges, Wrigley’s Gum, or Lucky Strike cigarettes. Such immigrants did not just assimilate but transformed America.
Research Contribution / Collaborations
- Editorial Board, Business History Review from 2005 to the present
- Editorial Board, Essays in Economic and Business History from 2012 to the present
- Editor, Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, German Historical Institute from 2010 to the present
- Kroos Dissertation Prize Committee 2013-2015, Business History Conference
- Presidential Nominating Committee 2011-2014, Business History Conference
- Trustee 2006-2009, Business History Conference
- Co-organizer with University of Southern California, “Los Angeles as a Site of German-American Crossings: A Symposium,” February 2014
- Visiting Professor, University of Southern California Max Kade Institute for Austrian-German-Swiss Studies 2013
- Visiting DAAD Professor, University of Marburg, 2012 with symposium on “Business, Business Associations, and the State after 1945,” July 2012
(available as e-book and hard copy)
With Christina Lubinski and Paloma Fernández Pérez (eds.), Family Multinationals: Entrepreneurship, Governance and Pathways to Internationalization (Routledge International Studies in Business History) (London: Routledge, 2013)
Organizing Control: August Thyssen and the Construction of German Corporate Management (Harvard University Press 2005)
Straight outta Oberberg: Transforming mid-sized family firms into global champions 1970–2010.
Jahrbuch fuer Wirtschaftsgeschichte, 53(1),
War of the factories.
In: Geyer, M. and Tooze, A. (eds.)
Cambridge History of the Second World War, Vol. 3. Total War: Economy, Society and Culture.
Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, pp. 94-121.
Lubinski, C., Fear, J.R. and Fernández Pérez, P., (Eds.)
Family Multinationals: Entrepreneurship, Governance, and Pathways to Internationalization.
Series: Routledge international studies in business history.
Routledge: London, UK.
Fear, J., Venohr, B., and Witt, A.
Best of German Mittelstand — The world market leaders.
In: Langenscheidt, F. and Venohr, B. (eds.)
The Best of German Mittelstand: The World Market Leaders.
Deutsche Standards: Cologne, pp. 10-27.