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Economic History

Historical research at LSE is delivered through two departments: Economic History (EH) and International History (IH). In EH, concepts and theories from economics and other social sciences provide the starting point for both studying how economies developed in the past and understanding them in their social, political and cultural context. There is a strong emphasis on economic concepts, but the department’s research brings a wide range of approaches to this core concern, utilizing both quantitative and qualitative techniques for historical analysis.

The success of this distinctive multidisciplinary approach has been recognised by assessors in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. They awarded 33 per cent of research submitted jointly by the Department of Economic History with the Department of International History the highest (4 star) grade, indicating that they considered it 'world-leading'. A further 45 per cent was rated 'internationally excellent' (3 star). 

Taking into account the proportion of its eligible staff submitted for assessment, LSE History (Economic History and International History) was ranked sixth out of 83 submissions to the REF History panel for the percentage of its research outputs rated 'world leading '(4*) or 'internationally excellent' (3*) and ninth for its submission as a whole. On the basis of the combination of quality of publications and number of staff submitted, a measure of research power, LSE History ranks 4th in the UK.

Research within the EH falls into three broad and overlapping thematic strands. Work on Global Economic History particularly explores the long-run convergence and divergence of economic performance and ‘deep’ historical origins of globalisation. The Markets and Institutions strand, which supports a focus on the dynamics of markets and financial, business and government institutions, has been augmented by an emphasis on accounting explicitly for the spatial dimensions of such dynamics.  Finally, work on the formation, transmission and advancement of Useful and Reliable Knowledge has become an increasingly prominent feature of the Department’s research portfolio.

EH engages extensively with non-academic user groups, particularly general public audiences. The Department shapes public debate through media engagement, public lectures and published reports. There has, for instance, been significant media interest in research by Professor Albrecht Ritschl, highlighting the importance of debt relief  to Germany’s economic recovery after the World Wars. The research catalysed intense political debate about - and widespread public engagement with – policies on Greek debt repayment.

The Department’s high level of engagement beyond academia is further exemplified by the resonance of Professor Mary Morgan’s work in non-academic user domains. Her work on ‘How well do facts travel?’ informed the development of better evidence-based policy by the Netherlands Environment Agency, which used a ‘fact chasing’ toolkit originating in her project to check the integrity of scientific information in influential climate change reports.

EH research is also used by other policymakers, among them the German Economics Ministry, the UK Department for Education and the House of Lords Communications Committee. In addition, faculty engage specific business communities and public organizations, including film companies such as United International Pictures, craft-producers in India, business professionals attending research-based executive education classes, the British Museum and think tanks.

Through these and other activities, the Department makes important contributions to efforts to tackle major social and political challenges.

Departmental results: History|

Department homepage: http://www.lse.ac.uk/economicHistory/home.aspx| 

LSE Impact: www.lse.ac.uk/researchImpact|

See also:

Impact Case Study Summaries