Courses offered elsewhere at Harvard

Business History Seminar at Harvard Business School (HBS course #4810)

Instructors: Walter Friedman and Tom Nicholas

The Business History Seminar explores the history of firms, industries, business systems, and entrepreneurs from a global and comparative perspective, drawing specifically on examples from the United States, Europe, and Asia. We will explore the different trajectories and interpretations of firm growth, industry development, and entrepreneurial activity from the 19th century to the present. We will also analyze the integration of firms into the economic, technological, cultural, and political contexts of the time. Among the topics covered are the changing organizational structure of firms, the emergence of modern management, the rise of big business, the impact of government policies and legal frameworks on business, the transformation of industries, and the role of entrepreneurship in capitalist economies. In each meeting we will discuss the key literature by prominent authors in the field and explore and test the premises on which their works are based. We aim to familiarize students with some of the classic studies in these areas, but plan to emphasize recent research and publications.
Introducing and analyzing different methodologies used within the field of business history, the course provides an innovative framework for understanding the emergence of business institutions, structures, and practices embedded in specific historical and geographical contexts. It is relevant for graduate students working in a range of fields including History, Economics, Economic History, and Business Administration.
The overall aim of the course is to introduce graduate students to central issues and theoretical approaches in the history of business and of capitalism and to explore the relevance of this literature to other disciplines. The course provides a unique opportunity to develop analytical research skills through designing, researching, and writing a paper using original sources, either quantitative or qualitative. Students are strongly encouraged to choose a topic relevant to their own research interests or dissertation project and will have the opportunity to work closely with the instructor during the semester on the paper. Cross-registrants are welcome.
Offered: Winter 2012