The silence of the archives: Business history, post-colonialism and archival ethnography

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History as a discipline has been accused of being a-theoretical. Business historians working at business schools, however, need to better explicate their historical methodology, not theory, in order to communicate the value of archival research to social scientists, and to train future doctoral students outside history departments. This paper seeks to outline an important aspect of historical methodology, which is data collection from archives. In this area, post-colonialism and archival ethnography have made significant methodological contributions not just for non-western history, emphasizing the importance of considering how archives were created, and how one can legitimately use them despite their limitations. I argue that these approaches offer new insights into the particularities of researching business archives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-173
Number of pages19
JournalManagement & Organizational History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • Africa
  • Archival ethnography
  • Business history
  • Corporate archives
  • Historical methodology
  • Post-colonialism


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