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Will there be blood?: entrepreneurial judgement and strategic choice in Chandlerian and revisionist narratives of industrialisation

Blundel, Richard (2008). Will there be blood?: entrepreneurial judgement and strategic choice in Chandlerian and revisionist narratives of industrialisation. In: Association of Business Historians Conference, 04-05 Jul 2008, University of Birmingham, UK.

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Entrepreneurial actors occupy a prominent role in popular narratives of industrial and corporate change, both historical and contemporary. Whether they be triumphant heroes or tragic anti-heroes, ‘robber barons’ or ‘great statesmen’, these representations have given rise to a persistent and often deeply-held perception of entrepreneurs as powerful and significant figures in the socio-economic landscape. In the popular imagination, they make decisive choices and initiate actions that shape the organisations and institutional contexts in which they operate. However, if we turn to the academic literature, the role of the entrepreneurial actor is rather less assured.

The paper examines how entrepreneurial judgement and strategic choice (Child 1972, 1997) have been represented in the leading narratives of industrialisation. In doing so, it draws on: the ‘orthodox’ Chandlerian account of the managerial revolution (Chandler 1977, 1990); the rival interpretations of Langlois (2003, 2004) and Lamoreaux et al. (2003, 2004); the broader ‘alternatives to mass production’ literature, represented by works such as Scranton (1997), Sabel and Zeitlin (1997); and a growing array of empirical studies within this tradition. The main aim of the paper is to review the treatment of entrepreneurial judgement and strategic choice in these literatures, seeking to highlight some commonalities, contrasts and possible contradictions. In doing so, it also reflects briefly on some practical implications for those engaged at the interface between business history and entrepreneurship research. In both respects, the paper responds to the challenge set recently by Casson and Godley (2007: 1075), whose critique of the Chandler-Williamson thesis concludes with the ambition of ‘restoring entrepreneurship to the heart of the interpretation’ of key episodes in business history.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item
Copyright Holders: 2008 Richard Blundel
Keywords: Chandler; entrepreneurial judgement; strategic choice; industrialisation
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business > Department for Public Leadership and Social Enterprise
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Research Group: Innovation, Knowledge & Development research centre (IKD)
Related URLs:
Item ID: 27462
Depositing User: Richard Blundel
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2011 09:51
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 22:15
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