Debates in Business History

A book series that fosters debate across disciplines, engaging diverse international perspectives.

The Palgrave Macmillan Debates in Business History Book Series is one that seeks to foster debate across disciplinary and theoretical silos and boundaries. As such it is founded in a broad rather than a narrow understanding of “business history” so that it brings together work that is currently operating in tandem with each other without ever engaging with each other: work from business and management history, social history, economic history, cultural history, labour history, sociology, and political history. The series also seeks to engage with perspectives and people from outside the Anglosphere, most particularly Africa, East Asia, South Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America. In addition, the series seeks to engage with issues that have a popular resonance, most particularly:

The Nature of Globalization

Globalization is a phenomenon that appears far less assured today than they did 10-15 years ago. There is thus room for a reassessment of the effects of globalization that embraces the developed and developing world.

The Nature of Capitalization

When dealing with “capitalism” we need to take in mind that there are many varieties of capitalism and that – despite the pervasive nature of the narrative on “neoliberalism” – there is no modern society where market mechanism operated without a measure of regulation and state control.

Western Civilization: Nature and Effects

The highly contested concept of Western civilization provides ample scope for a number of books that can contribute to a significant debate as to: Theoretical understandings of Western Civilization; The positive and negative consequences of Western Civilization outside Europe; The association of capitalism, Western Civilization and climate change.

The Mediatisation of Business

The all-encompassing role of media is blurring the line between material reality and media creation; a virtual world that has become increasingly “real” with the popularization of Facebook, twitter, U-Tube and other forms of social media. There is thus a need for a critical assessment and debate about the effects – and the limits to these effects – of mediatisation that goes beyond the normal puerile jargon about “disruption” and “unprecedented change”. 

Gender, Race, Class and Identity

Increasingly matters relating to gender, race and sexual identity have displaced social class as the fundamental elements in societal and political divide. In most advanced societies the old industrial working class is smaller in absolute terms than it was in the early 1950s. The Series thus seeks contributions that speak to the debates relating to gender, race, class and identity.

Business and Shifts in Wealth, Power and Inequality

The global economy has witnessed considerable increases in per capita wealth in recent decades. However, there has been a noticeable slowing in per capita wealth creation since the GFC. In thus exploring the issue of power and inequality it is thus useful to disentangle “wealth” from “power” from “inequality”, and explore how these are manifested in different social settings.


We endeavor to encourage and expand the scope of business, management, and organizational history by publishing works that are grounded in rigorous research and the application of theory. We aim to broaden historical sensitivity and the pursuit of learning by fostering debate and dialogue across disciplinary and theoretical fields that deepens knowledge of the past and addresses contemporary, global issues.


Chinese Worker Activism: Social Passivity in Labour Activist Culture

by Elly Leung

Drawing on the empirical data, the book applies Michel Foucault’s genealogical method to reveal how governmental discourses (or knowledge) emerged and became the “truths” in Chinese histories that are used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to regulate workers by maintaining their consciousness at an embryonic level in today’s China.  The book shows that these governance techniques have sustained the CCP’s monopoly on political power, while at the same time entrenching a natural self-governance (or governmentality) among the workers that they have uphold an abundantly cheap and docile labor force for themselves.

Release: 2021

Image Credit: Zhang Xiaogang. Bloodline: Big Family No. 8, 2006

Slavery, Freedom and Business Endeavor

by Bradley Bowden

In re-examining the contested concept of “Western Civilization” this book defines civilization not in cultural terms but in terms of lived experience. Perceived in this way, the iteration of Western Civilization that emerged around 1850 is understood as one that emerged from the cradle of the older civilization but which is distinct from it – a product of interactions between the societies of the New World and the Old. Its primary drivers have thus not been located in the realms of politics or culture but in the world of business and private endeavor; a world that has created a lived experience profoundly different to anything that came before it.

Release: Out now

Image Credit: George Washington dressed as Roman emperor by Italian neo-classical sculptor Antonio Canova, 1815-20

Business Practice in Socialist Hungary: From Chaos to Reform, 1945-1972

by Phillip Scranton

This study represents a bottom-up reconstruction of business initiatives by enterprises and individuals in a Soviet-dominated country “building socialism.” It focuses on both shortcomings and advances in agriculture, construction, commerce and manufacturing, from the post-war Stalinist obsession with heavy industry to the 1956 revolt and reforms thereafter prioritizing profitable farming and improved consumer goods. Drawing on rarely-accessed archival sources and  theoretical work by Bruno Latour, Anthony Giddens, and Karl Weick, the text underscores the uncertainties, contingencies, improvisations, and failures that accompanied “rational” planning in Hungary.

Release: late 2022

Image Credit: Production meeting in Szt‡linv‡ros in the early summer of 1956. Photo: Erich Lessing

Do you see yourself here?

Debates in Business History is now accepting proposals for books in the series.

To find out more about the application process as well as submit your manuscript proposal to the Editors for consideration go to Applications.


Bradley Bowden

Bradley Bowden is an Australian academic and management historian. He is currently Co-Editor of the Journal of Management History with Jeffrey Muldoon.  He has twice won the Academy of Management’s John 529 F Mee Award for Outstanding Contribution to Management History. Between 2016 and 2017, he also served as Chair of the Management History Division of the Academy of Management. He is an Adjunct Fellow at the Institute for Public Affairs, Melbourne, Australia.

To learn more go to Bradley Bowden

Michael Heller

Michael Heller is a business and organizational historian and Reader in Marketing at Brunel Business School, Brunel University. His main areas of research cover the history of office work, the history of company magazines and internal communication, the history of public relations, and corporate and product branding. His work has been published in the British Journal of Management, European Journal of Marketing, Enterprise and Society, Business History, and other leading business history journals.

To learn more go to Michael Heller

Jeffrey Muldoon

Jeffrey Muldoon is Jeff Muldoon is associate professor at Emporia State University in Kansas USA. His work has appeared in numerous journals, won numerous awards (including the John F Mee prize), and serves on numerous editorial boards. At present he serves as Co-Editor of the Journal of Management History. He is also co-editor of The Palgrave Handbook of Management History. 

To learn more go to Jeffrey Muldoon

Gabrielle Durepos

Gabrielle Durepos is an Associate Professor at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Canada.  Her research interests include historical organization studies. She is an Associate Editor at Management Learning, Qualitative Research in Organization and Management and the Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences. 

To learn more go to Gabrielle Durepos


Bradley BowdenGriffith UniversityAustralia
Michael HellerBrunel UniversityUK
Jeffrey MuldoonEmporia UniversityUSA
Gabrielle DureposMount Saint Vincent UniversityCanada
Marcus BallengerPalgrave MacmillanUSA/UK
Bernardo Batiz-LazoUniversity of NorthumbriaUK
Arthur G BedeianLouisiana State UniversityUSA
Amanda Budde-SungUS Air Force Academy, Colorado SpringsUSA
Andrew CardowMassey UniversityNew Zealand
Matteo CristofaroUniversity of RomeItaly
Sébastien DamartParis Dauphine UniversityFrance
Carlos DavilaUniversity of the AndesColombia
Nick DyrenfurthCurtin Research UniversityAustralia
Anthony M. GouldUniversity of Laval, QuebecCanada
Scott HargreavesInstitute for Public AffairsAustralia
Albert MillsSaint Mary’s University, Nova ScotiaCanada
Jean Helms MillsSaint Mary’s University, Nova ScotiaCanada
Elly LeungUniversity of Western AustraliaAustralia
Jan LogemannUniversity of GöttingenGermany
Mairi MacleanUniversity of BathUK
Vadim MarshevMoscow State UniversityRussia
Patricia McLarenWilfrid Laurier University, OntarioCanada
Peter MiskellHenley Business School, University of ReadingUK
Milorad NovicevicUniversity of MississippiUSA
Nimruji PrasadIndian Institute of Management CalcuttaIndia
Michael RowlinsonUniversity of ExeterUK
Stefan SchwarzkopfCopenhagen Business SchoolDenmark
Philip ScrantonRutgers UniversityUSA
Grietjie VerhoefUniversity of JohannesburgSouth Africa
James WilsonUniversity of GlasgowUK

Applications – Debates in Business History Series

We accept manuscript proposals that examine, research, and analyze theoretical, empirical, methodological, and / or philosophical issues related, either directly or indirectly, to organization and business history. Business areas include, but not limited to, management, economics, marketing, information systems, operations, and accounting.  We also welcome manuscripts that examine issues from the perspective of business and society; culture and business; and the interaction between business and institutions.

We are open to submission from a variety of theoretical, methodological, and / or philosophical perspectives. We welcome submissions from every perspective that advances or proposes a debate. We encourage submissions on traditional perspectives such as economic, empiricist, institutional and managerial. We also encourage manuscripts grounded in postcolonial, postmodern, critical management studies and feminist thought (these topics are not exhaustive). Our three requirements are that the manuscript employ some historical analysis, encourage debate, and be related to organizations and business, either directly or indirectly.

Applications for Pivot Books (25,000 to 50,000 words) and Standard Books (80,000 to 110,000).

To find out more about the Debates in Business History Book Series, or submit your initial proposal for consideration, complete the form below.

A partnership between Palgrave Macmillan and the Tacitus Forum