Management and Organization History Cluster Winter School. University of York. Monday 7 December 2015.
"Unknown vistas in management and organization history: a workshop."
The known and the unknown
"As the chart of the unknown becomes filled in, judgment of the most profitable course to follow changes. Mysterious inlets may prove dead ends or may open into vast seas."
― Sir Cyril Hinshelwood, 1965.
"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones."
― Donald Rumsfeld, 2002.
"We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far."
― H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu, 1926.
Towards the unknown
The historic turn in Management and Organization Studies (MOS) inaugurated nearly twenty-five years ago appears to have legitimated theoretically sensitive historical studies in a range of management journals, and has seen widespread use of organization theory within business history.
While the philosophical debate about the role of theory narrative, and memory related to method in historical work in MOS will surely continue, we have decided to turn our attention to new vistas, to continue the disciplinary voyage and to ask, simply, what's next?
The purpose of the Winter School was therefore to identify, outline and discuss the unknowns (both known and unknown) in the field of management and organization history, broadly conceived.
What are the areas and topics about which we are ignorant? Why are they unknown? How might we know them? What new methods and disciplinary collaborations might be required to develop new knowledge? Where will the great disciplinary challenges lie in the coming years? And how shall we address them?
The workshop was conducted via informal roundtable discussions. Contributions included consideration of historiography, methodology, temporality, historicity, theory, sources, archives, argument(s) and interpretation(s), myths, paradigms, problems, puzzles, inter-disciplinarity, new empirical topics, public history and policy, history and the 'business humanities'.
We intend to produce an edited volume consisting of short discursive chapters that continue and develop the workshop discussions.