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Using History: Valuing Archives Workshop
February 28, 2019
The question of how business organisations make use of their history has increasingly come to occupy the attention of organisational theorists and historians (Suddaby et al, 2010; Poor et al, 2016; Zundel et al, 2016; Foster, 2017; Smith and Simeone, 2017; Hatch and Schultz, 2017). Each firm’s history is unique to itself. As such, it can be classified as rare and inimitable. Provided historical records are appropriately stored and managed within an archive, then it can also be said to be organised. In such cases we can reasonably claim that a firm’s history meets three of the four elements identified by Barney (1991) as constituting a strategic resource. The only question that remains is whether it is deemed to be valuable.
Questions and issues to be addressed:
- The different ways in which organizations make use of their own archives / historical records (e.g. for internal and external purposes);
- Attempts to measure / quantify the value of historical resources (either in financial terms or some other way);
- The balance between ‘authenticity’ and ‘corporate strategy’ when constructing historical narratives (should/does the history follow from the strategy, or vice versa);
- The tension, if it exists, between a firm’s willingness to recognise the strategic or commercial value of its historical records, and its willingness to make such records available for public (including academic) scrutiny;
- The management and use of archival records that are held outside of their ‘parent’ organization, i.e. where management of a firm’s historical resources are outsourced;
- The preservation / management of company archives after a firm has ceased to exist.