EH463      Half Unit
The Long-Run Analysis of Firms and Industries

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Gerben Bakker SAR 509


This course is available on the MA Global Studies: A European Perspective, MRes in Quantitative Economic History, MSc in Economic History, MSc in Economic History (Research) and MSc in Global History. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


There are no prerequisites, but some knowledge and an interest in business and finance are advantageous.

Course content

This course comparatively explores the history of strategies, business organisations and industries since the nineteenth century. Different approaches to analyse this evolution are discussed, as well as the history of thinking about management and organisational structure and how this affected history itself. Introductory lecture(s) set the scene, discuss key concepts and various economic approaches to analyse the evolution of organisations. Subsequently the course looks at the origins of legal forms of organisation - such as the corporation, the private limited liability company and the cooperative - at the development of organisational structures, at the history of thinking about them, and at evolution of industries.


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

The class meets for two-hours each week, in the Lent Term. Introductory lecture(s) are followed by student-led seminars.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to produce one essay during the term and to sit a short mock examination paper at the end of term.

Indicative reading

G. Boyce and S. Ville, The Development of Modern Business (2002); C. J. Schmitz, , The growth of big business in the United States and Western Europe, 1850-1939 (1993); S. Douma and H. Schreuder, Economic Approaches to Organizations (2002); A. Huczynksi and D. Buchanan, 'Organizational Structures', part 4 in Organizational Behaviour (2001 or later edition); D. A. Wren, The History of Management Thought (5th ed. 2004); O. E. Williamson, The economic institutions of capitalism. Firms, markets, relational contracting (1985); A. D. Chandler, Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the American Industrial Enterprise (1962); J. Sutton, Technology and Market Structure: Theory and History (1998); F. Knight, Risk, Uncertainty and Profit (1921); J. A. Schumpeter, "Can Capitalism Survive?" in his Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942); L. Hannah, 'Marshall's "Trees" and the Global "Forest" in N. Lamoreaux, D. Raff and P. Temin, Learning by Doing in Markets, Firms and Nations (1999); J. M. Karpoff, "Public versus Private Initiative in Arctic Exploration: The Effects of Incentives and Organizational Structure," Journal of Political Economy 109 (2001); E. Hilt, "Incentives in Corporations: Evidence from the American Whaling Industry," Journal of Law and Economics 49 (2006); M. J. Lynskey and S. Yonekura, Entrepreneurship and Organization (2002).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2015/16: 16

Average class size 2015/16: 16

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Value: Half Unit

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