Radical Business?

SYMPOSIUM, 28 June 2019 

Radical Business? Business and the Contest over Social Norms

Lecture Theatre, Weston Library
8:45 am to 5 pm

Conveners: David Chan Smith and Rowena Olegario


This one-day symposium at the Weston Library, University of Oxford brings together an interdisciplinary group of speakers to offer insights into how business has acted as a radical force to upset and replace social norms over time. Whether seeking to normalize new products and services, or responding to regulatory patterns or reputational risks, business is engaged in a constant negotiation with larger cultural codes. Speakers will discuss the consequences of this contest over social norms, including ethical as well as strategic implications. By gathering researchers from across disciplines, the symposium will also explore common conceptual ground to understand the significance of this problem for the history of capitalism and management.

Further questions? Please email dasmith@wlu.ca

Free to all, but RSVP: bookcentre@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

David Smith is Associate Professor, Department of History, Wilfrid Laurier University, and is the Royal Bank of Canada-Bodleian Visiting Fellow at the Bodleian Libraries during Trinity Term 2019.

Presented in association with the Oxford Centre for Global History, Global History of Capitalism project, Faculty of History, University of Oxford


1. Embedding and Transforming Social Norms
Heidi Tworek (University of British Columbia),  'Media and the Social Norms of Public Opinion: How Political and Economic Elites Tried to Change Germans’ Minds' 
David Chan Smith (Wilfrid Laurier University, and RBC Foundation-Bodleian Fellow), 'Embedding Christian Ethics: Howard Bowen, CSR and Quantifying Doing Good' 
Pegram Harrison (University of Oxford), 'Museums and MBAs: contested purpose in (cultural) institutions and the construction of new (business) norms'

2. Business Interests and the National Interest: Profits and Social Norms
Aled Davies (University of Oxford), 'Defining the British economy: business interests and national economic identity, 1950-1990'
Neil Forbes (Coventry University), 'Multinational Enterprise, Profits and Taxation: the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in the 1920s' 
James Hollis (University of Oxford), 'The First World War and the Origins of the Offshore Economy'

3: Corruption, Stigma and Social Norms
Stephanie Decker (Aston University) and Adam Nix (De Montfort University), 'Organizational Corruption at Enron' 
Lola Wilhelm (The Graduate Institute, Geneva), 'From “magnificent crusader” to “baby killer”. Revisiting the downfall of Nestlé’s reputation in infant health and nutrition' 
Will Pettigrew (University of Lancaster), 'The Early Modern English Corporation's Refashioning of Fraud'

4: Changing Organizational Norms
Anne Murphy (University of Herfordshire), 'Embracing change: ‘economical reform’ at the 18th-century Bank of England'
Michael Weatherburn (Imperial College London), 'Forecasting in Action: Past, Present and Future'
Alan Morrison (University of Oxford), [title TBC]


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