The Centre's associates and affiliated postgraduate research students are involved in a wide range of individual research projects. Please see the Staff and Postgraduate research pages for details.
The Centre is pursuing a range of projects in conjunction with its remit to carry out high-quality original research in business history. All of them address one or more of the six main focal points of the Centre's current activities:
- internationalisation of business enterprise
- business and the environment
- business history as industrial history
- the role of business in innovation systems and policy
- the evolving relationship between the state-owned, private and third sectors
- sources and methodology for business and organizational history
Hannah-Louise Clark (Co-Investigator) with Professor Helen Tilley, Northwestern University, and Dr Michael Afolayan, "Constructing African Medical Heritage: Legacies of Empire and the Geopolitics of Culture, 1890–1990". National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Publications Grant, 2020, USD$245,328.
Ewan Gibbs (Principal Investigator), "Energy Nationalisms: Fuel Economies and Scottish Independence since 1945". Carnegie Research Incentive Grant, May 2021-May 2022, grant delayed for a year by COVID-19.
Niall MacKenzie (Principal Investigator), "Legitimation of Newness and Its Impact on EU Agenda for Change". MCSA-ITN, 2020, €4.35m.
Professor Niall G MacKenzie and Dr Christopher Miller (Co- Investigators), "Development of the Scotch whisky industry". Macon St. Hilaire, "Global Scotch Whisky industry, 1918-2018 - a spirit of success", PhD studentship sponsored by the William Lind Foundation. The PhD studentship is the first part of a larger project on the development of the indsutry with colleauges at the universities of Glasgow, Northumbria, and Edinburgh.
Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol, (Principal Investigator), "EURECON: the Making of a Lopsided Union: Economic Integration in the European Economic Community, 1957-1992". The European Research Council (ERC) Grant, a €1,5 million. Starting Grant for the project for five years, 2017-2022.
Jim Phillips, (Principal Investigator) and Jim Tomlinson, (Co-investigator), and Dr Valerie Wright, (Research Associate), Employment, Politics and Culture in Scotland, 1955-2015, Leverhulme Trust Grant for 36 months from 1 April 2017, RPG-2016-283, £215,596.
Ray Stokes (Principal Investigator), ongoing funding from the William Lind Foundation and the Ballast Trust in support of the activities of the Centre for Business History in Scotland.
Professor Ray Stokes (Principal Investigator) and Professor Ralf Banken, University of Frankfurt department of Economic & Social History and the German Society for Business History (Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte), A History of the International Gases Industry Funded by Linde AG. Major Publication: Raymond G. Stokes and Ralf Banken, Building on Air: The International Industrial Gases Industry, 1886-2006, (CUP, 2016).
Professor Ray Stokes (Principal Investigator), with Dr Stephen Sambrook and Dr Roman Köster working with him as postdoctoral research assistants and co-authors of a monograph that appeared in 2013, Constructing the waste management business in the United Kingdom and West Germany, 1945 to the early 1990s. An ESRC grant, ESRC Project Reference RES-062-23-0580, for three years starting in September 2007. Major research output: Raymond G. Stokes, Roman Köster and Stephen Sambrook, The Business of Waste: Great Britain and Germany, 1945 to the present, (CUP, 2013).
Digital documents and the future of business history writing
One of the most challenging developments facing business and organisational historians in the not too distant future will be to develop methodologies to deal with born-digital documents. These methodologies will no doubt be related to, but will necessarily also be different from those developed for traditional archival and other documents used in history writing to date. This project, which is being developed by Ray Stokes and Chris Miller, will engage in experimental research based on digital archives from selected firms and organisations to begin to uncover those methodological challenges to, and to devise strategies to enable, the future of business history writing.
- Adam Smith Business School
- Postgraduate research
- Honorary Professors and Research Affiliates
- University of Glasgow
- University of Strathclyde
The Centre for Business History in Scotland (CBHS) is an ideal environment for those wishing to study by research for a higher degree in this field, irrespective of whether their interests are predominantly centred on Scotland, the UK, the EU, or the broader international community. The Centre encourages the study of all aspects of business history and looks to develop the subject in a variety of ways, not least through the supervision of research students and by helping them to build on and extend their skills in order to foster future career development. Supervision is available not only from within CBHS, but also from the academic staff of the Economic and Social History subject area, with which the Centre has close ongoing links.
A History of the International Gases Industry
A History of the International Gases Industry
Business and economic historians have long since concerned themselves with the emergence and development of the industries of the so-called "second industrial revolution" - chemicals, electrical goods, and other research-intensive industries - and their component companies. However, one of the industries of the second industrial revolution has been virtually ignored in this scholarship to date: the industrial gases industry, aptly termed the "invisible industry" in a short overview published by its main international trade association.
This relative neglect is somewhat ironic in that industrial gases, produced by a handful of specialised firms, have been critical to enabling innovation and development in more prominent industries ranging from chemicals and semiconductor manufacturing to steel production, oil refining, and food processing. This project has resulted in a number of publications, including a jointly authored monograph, that together give a fuller and more nuanced picture of the history of research-intensive industry over the long term by exploring the history of the industrial gases industry through business history of its component firms from its inception in the late 19th century to the present. Led by Ray Stokes of the Centre for Business History, it was funded by Linde AG, and involved cooperation with the University of Frankfurt Department of Economic and Social History and the German Society for Business History (Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte).
Major Publication: Raymond G. Stokes and Ralf Banken, Building on Air: The International Industrial Gases Industry, 1886-2006, (CUP, 2016).
Constructing the Waste Management Business
Constructing the waste management business in the United Kingdom and West Germany, 1945 to the early 1990s
An ESRC grant (ESRC Project Reference RES-062-23-0580) was awarded in support of the above project for three years starting in September 2007. Ray Stokes led the project, with Dr Stephen Sambrook and and Dr Roman Köster working with him as postdoctoral research assistants and co-authors of a monograph that appeared in 2013. The ESRC End of Award Report rated it as “Outstanding”.
Waste collection and disposal in 1945 was carried out at the local level and dominated by the public sector, although private companies occupied important niche markets. An indication of the status of the activity in the mind-set of the time is its non-appearance in official reporting: there was no discrete entry for waste collection and disposal in national industrial or economic statistics, something which began much later. By the early 1990s, this had all changed, and the industry featured a number of private firms, many with high levels of turnover and often operating internationally. How and with what consequences did waste collection and disposal become "waste management"? Why did this process differ from country to country, and indeed from locality to locality?
These are significant questions which this project will address by examining the causes, course and consequences of the emergence of this new industry in two countries, the United Kingdom and West Germany, from the end of World War II until the early 1990s. Writing such a history offered a rare opportunity for sustained attention to the interconnections between business, technology, economy, politics and society as they changed through time.
A funding proposal for this project was developed based on generous seedcorn funding made available by the Aggregate Foundation, which also provides on-going funding of the costs of the Centre's infrastructure.
Major research output: Raymond G. Stokes, Roman Köster and Stephen Sambrook, The Business of Waste: Great Britain and Germany, 1945 to the present, (CUP, 2013)
Professor Niall G MacKenzie has been developing work on the Scotch whisky industry with colleagues at the universities of Glasgow, Northumbria, and Edinburgh. So far the project has yielded one PhD studentship, Macon St Hilaire with Dr Christopher Miller in Economic and Social History, University of Glasgow; an article in the Harvard Business History Review (2019) on the Robertson Trust and Edrington with Dr Jillian Gordon, Adam Smith Business School and Dr Martin Gannon, University of Edinburgh; and a book chapter ‘Behind the Tartan Curtain: Cartelisation in the Scotch Whisky Industry' with Professor Andrew Perchard, Northumbria University, on international cartelisation in an edited book collection A History of Business Cartels: International Politics, National Policies, and Anti-Competitive Behaviour (forthcoming). He is developing a research grant proposal to a major grant-making organisation on the development of the industry using oral history testimonies and archive materials, including privately held archives and the Scottish Business Archive at the University of Glasgow. He would very much welcome any contact regarding untapped resources on the industry.
Employment, Politics and Culture in Scotland, 1955-2015
Employment, Politics and Culture in Scotland, 1955-2015
Dr Jim Phillips (Principal Investigator), Professor Jim Tomlinson (Co-Investigator), Dr Valerie Wright, (Research Associate), Funded by: Leverhulme Trust, RPG-2016-283
Industrial employment was central to Scottish identity and political discourse in the mid-twentieth century. So subsequent deindustrialisation, although phased, contested and long-running, was culturally and politically problematic. Understanding of deindustrialisation at elite and popular level is being clarified and elaborated in this project through a moral economy framework, derived from E. P. Thompson. A relational approach is being used to integrate assumptions of two distinct actor groups: policy-makers and policy-framers. In both elite and popular constructions of the economy, it is hypothesised, there were powerful moral dimensions.
The analysis is being conducted through a number of case studies, designed to capture:
- a chronological span, to scrutinize changing priorities of policy-makers from the 1950s to the 2010s, and how these influenced the timing and character of employment changes;
- a variety of occupational groups, with potentially varied economic, social and cultural losses arising from deindustrialisation, and perhaps distinct moral economy definitions of justice;
- the varied gender composition of the industrial workforce, and the role of gender in shaping responses to deindustrialisation;
- a mix of urban-industrial locations, including highland as well as lowland settings, to examine the meaning of communities and their role in shaping understanding of deindustrialisation.
Case studies underway in 2017 included shipbuilding in Govan, car manufacturing at Linwood, and instrument engineering in Dundee. Evidence is being drawn from Scottish and UK public records (National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh, and The National Archives, Kew), along with other business, trade union and local authority records. Analysis is being deepened through oral history investigation.
The project will run for 36 months from 1 April 2017.