Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Why business historians need a constructive theory of the archive

Schwarzkopf, Stefan (2013): Why business historians need a constructive theory of the archive. Published in: Business Archives No. 105 (November 2012): pp. 1-9.

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Abstract

Archival records are a constitutive element of business historical research, and such research, in turn, is fundamental for a holistic understanding of the role of enterprise in modern capitalist societies. Despite an increasing debate within business history circles about the need to theorize the historian as author and creator of narratives, a fuller reflection on the uses and limitations of the archive in business historical research has not yet taken place. This article takes its lead from theories of organisational epistemology, and asks to what extent business historians are trapped by an outdated, realist methodology and epistemology which is in danger of ignoring the multiple roles that archives play in their knowledge production.

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