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

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Gerben Bakker SAR 509


This course is available on the MRes/PhD in Accounting (AOI) (Accounting, Organisations and Institutions Track), MRes/PhD in Quantitative Economic History, MSc in Accounting, Organisations and Institutions, MSc in Economic History, MSc in Economic History (Research), MSc in Global Economic History (Erasmus Mundus) and MSc in Political Economy of Late Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

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. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

This course is delivered through a series of seminars totalling 20 hours across Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching may be delivered through a combination of virtual seminars and other online activities.

This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Lent Term.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to write two essays or equivalent pieces of written work.

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 summer exam period.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2019/20: 12

Average class size 2019/20: 12

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information