Article recommendation: Twentieth Century Flick: Business History in the Age of Extremes

I apologize for posting much these last weeks.  I have been quite busy reading journals on Global Value Chains, Deviant Capitalism, Black Market Trade and theories on Global Political Economy.  While this has driven me nuts… it has also made me pay attention to the field of Business History.

Business history is not the history of Capitalism and it is also not the history of entrepreneurship.  The research in this field is mostly controlled by an European institutionalist approach.  And in the latest decades, it has gained more insights from economic and business studies that are highly afflicted by neo-marxist approaches of the 20th Century.  So, if you are interested in learning about this particular area of research here is the info for a good article on the topic that may get you also interested, and provide you with further bibliography.

Twentieth Century Flick: Business History in the Age of Extremes
Priemel, Kim Christian (2012)
Journal of Contemporary History vol. 47 (4) p. 754-772

.Full Text (PDF)


Conference: Global History of Agrarian Labor Regimes, 1750 to 2000 (Harvard University)

My interest in Agrarian Labor Regimes was first awaken in my research on Opium trade in India. Since then, more readings have made me realize the complex structures behind the history of agrarian labor in a global context.

If you are also interested in the topic, the *Weatherhead Initiative on Global History (WIGH)* at Harvard University is planning a conference for *April 2013* that is focusing on changing labor regimes within global agriculture.

As posted by Blog de la AMHE by Manuel Bautista, they are interested in exploring the diversity of labor regimes, the paths along which they changed, and—most especially—the connections between these changes in different parts of the world. We are interested in work that explores the connected histories of propertied farming, sharecropping, wage labor, slavery, *cultures obligatoires*, and other such forms of labor, and how they have been connected to the spatial and social spread of capitalism.We are seeking proposals from historians, political scientists, economists, sociologists, and anthropologists at all stages of their academic career, including graduate students. We encourage proposals from those in relevant career paths or institutions outside the university. We are particularly interested in forging a global discussion of these topics, and therefore welcome especially contributions from outside North America and Europe.

The conference will try to balance broad comparative papers and revealing case studies. The Weatherhead Initiative on Global History is a newly created center that responds to the growing interest at Harvard in the encompassing study of global history. The Initiative is committed to the systematic scrutiny of developments that have unfolded across national, regional, and continental boundaries as well as to analysis of the interconnections—cultural, economic, ecological and demographic—among world societies. For further information about WIGH as well as the conference, please consult our website at

Proposals should include an abstract of no more than two pages and a brief curriculum vita. Please email your submissions to Jessica Barnard ( jbarnard @ ) before *November 30, 2012*. Travel expenses as well as accommodation will be covered.

Holger Droessler hdroessl @

Past and present of the globalization of knowledge

Globalization of knowledge is what I define as the process by which actors conceptualize and interconnect ideas in a global scale.  In the past, the globalization of knowledge required initially an extensive research in books, magazines and other print resources of ideas that could be connected in order to create a larger image of the field being studied.  Later, these ideas were linked and related one to another in the creation of conceptual maps that looked very similar to the nets of spiders in whiteboards.  Later, these ideas were interconnected and global conclusions, hypothesis and thesis arised from the evaluation of information.

However, with the advent of technology these complicated and extenuating research process have been shortened and made much more efficient.  Now, these interconnections and global images of our research are almost done automatically by computers.

The following video has a great example on how the past and present of the Globalization of Knowledge looked like.  I hope you will enjoy watching it as much as I did,

Darwin Day. February 12, 2012.

Darwin Day is a global celebration of science and reason held on or around Feb. 12, the birthday anniversary of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin and the anniversary of the publication of “On the Origin of Species”.

I invite you to watch this video with a musical celebration of the wonders of biology, including evolution, natural selection, DNA, and more. Featuring David Attenborough, Richard Dawkins and Bill Nye. “The Greatest Show on Earth” is the 13th video in the Symphony of Science music videos series. All of which are now studied because of the questions that Charles Darwin dare to ask.

Symphony of Science – The Greatest Show on Earth! A music video about Evolution

PhD position in Economics, Ghent Univ., Belgium

Ghent University
Image via Wikipedia

Ghent University
Faculty of Economics and Business Administration
has a vacancy for
In the field of Micro-Econometrics Applied to Labour Economics

To start in January 2012

Job Description
• The candidate writes a doctoral thesis under the supervision of Prof. Bart Cockx on the research project entitled “Evaluating Active Labour Market Policies in Flanders”. This project will be realized within the Policy Research Centre Work and Social Economy (“Steunpunt Werk en Sociale Economie”) financed by the Flemish Government. The project consists in two main research topics:
(i) A Simple Monitoring Instrument for the Effectiveness of Active Labor Market Policies;
(ii) Public Procurement of Employment Services: Long-Run Effectiveness and the Role of the Service Provider.

The description of the research project can be downloaded from
• The competencies and research interests of the promoter are described onhttp://users.
• In addition to performing the tasks described in the research project, the PhD candidate will improve his/her research skills by completing a doctoral training programme. This includes advanced courses within the Belgian Graduate School in Economics, and attending and presenting research in seminars and international conferences. A description of the rules of the PhD programme are downloadable from

• You are holder of a Master degree in Economics, which you should have completed with honours.
• You can work independently, accurately and systematically
• You have an interest in quantitative methods

• A doctoral research fellowship for up to 4 years.
• A dynamic research environment with interactions with other research centres, in particular with IRES at UCLouvain and also IZA and CESifo, research centres to which Bart Cockx is affiliated.

Send a letter of motivation and your CV to prof. Bart Cockx bart.cockx@ugent. be as soon as possible and not later than December 15, 2011. Do not hesitate to send a mail for more info.


NEW PhD in Global Studies, Roskilde University

Roskilde, a detail of the University Library
Image via Wikipedia

I am currently enrolled in the MA in Global Studies 2013 at Roskilde University and I am very happy to share this news with you;  Roskilde University is a very new (founded in 1972) and leading University in a new focus on Education that is hard to find in Europe.  The focus of the courses in the University is not based upon traditional lectures but in group orientated methods and projects. It currently has more than 8,000 students and offers BA, MA and PhD degrees.  Now, they are offering a new PhD scholarship in Global Studies at the Department for Society and Globalisation:

The research topic is within Global Studies and the focus of the proposed research projectshould fall within one of the following themes:1. New actors and alliances in North-South relations
2. The Arab Uprisings and the global changes
3. The squeezed middle classes: Europe and Asia compared

All the best,
Kennet Lynggaard
Associate Professor, PhD.
Department of Society and Globalisation
Roskilde University, Bld. 25.1
Universitetsvej 1
P.O. Box 260
DK-4000 Roskilde

Paper on “Craftying analytical tools to study institutional change”

Today I did a presentation on the methodological plan for a study in the Internationalization of Leipzig’s Gallery of Contemporary Art.  I received very important critics that helped me correct the way of my research.  The critics were directed at focusing on the institutional evolution of the Gallery’s agenda (to understand what was behind of the internationalization process we had identified in our preliminary research). Indeed, crafting a study is not an easy thing and today I read that UDADISI had re-posted a great article on something related to the issue I’ll be dealing with in the next couple weeks.  So it was worth republishing. 😉 Here’s the article by Ostrom and Basurto,
These are some ideas on the evolution of institutions from the [very interesting!] paper:
What are rules:

[S]hared understandings by actors about enforced prescriptions concerning what actions (or outcomes) are required, prohibited, or permitted.

[Rules] are linguistic statements containing prescriptions similar to norms, but rules carry an additional, assigned sanction if forbidden actions are taken and observed by a monitor (Commons, 1924).

What are norms:

Norms are prescriptions about actions or outcomes that are not focused primarily on short-term material payoffs to self. A participant who holds a truth- telling norm gains an internal reward (that can be modeled as an additional value added to their utility function) for telling the truth even when material payoffs would be greater when telling a lie (Crawford and Ostrom, 2005).

Some lessons from institutional analysis:

Some of the lessons coming out of our institutional analyses in Nepal and elsewhere show that resource users who have relative autonomy to design their own rules for governing and managing common-pool resources frequently achieve better economic (as well as more equitable) outcomes than when experts do this for them.

How do rules originate on farmer irrigation systems

Farmers in old and established systems tell researchers that they do not know much about the origin of the rules they use. In Bali, for example, rules are encoded in a sacred religious system and are monitored and enforced by priests (Lansing, 1991, 2006).

What are some of the processes of rule change?

[T]he evolution of a rule system is not synonymous with progress. Certainly, evolutionary processes do not entail a priori judgments on the outcome. Evolutionary processes do involve, however, the generation of new alternatives, selection among new and old combinations of structural attributes, and retention of those combinations of attributes that are successful in a particular environment. In evolving biological systems, genotypic structures are changed through blind variation or directed variation (such as in the case of the domestication of many species of plants and animals). In evolving human-based rule systems, rule configurations within an action situation can change as a result of many self-conscious or unconscious mechanisms, including trial-and-error efforts, especially in collective-action processes. In some instances, the capacity of the biophysical resource system to buffer abuse from trial-and- error of different rule systems seems to play a necessary but not sufficient role in the emergence of successful self-governed rule systems (Basurto, 2008; Basurto and Coleman, 2010). Mechanisms for change in rule configurations can be roughly divided into relatively self-conscious and unconscious processes of change. Among examples of self-conscious processes that are frequently mentioned in the literature are those driven by imitation (Richerson and Boyd, 2005). Imitation of rules used by others can lead to rule evolution over time, especially if the farmers from multiple irrigation systems in a region regularly interact in a local market or other regular meeting place.

Imitation of entire rule systems that are thought of as ‘successful’ can also take place at the constitutional-choice level, such as the case of the adoption of the US National Parks’ law system by the Costa Rican nascent national park system. Other self- conscious processes of change in rule systems include some cases of external development interventions, such as when external aid support is conditioned to changes in local institutions based on foreign views of fairness, productivity, democracy, or development itself.

Competitive processes can also lead some users to self-consciously favor some institutional arrangements over others. Similarly, conflict over the interpretation of rules is also a process that frequently leads to self-conscious change.

Most self-conscious processes of change are based on the ability of humans to learn (Henry, 2009), such as when members of a rural fishing community organize to modify rules to control levels of exploitation based on past experiences (Basurto, 2005).

Unconscious processes of change include forgetting, like when there is a very large number of rules and no one ‘remembers’ them all without extensive research, or when laws are never practiced. The same phenomena are observed when certain taboos disappear through language loss, cognitive dissonance, technological change, or non-enforcement. These mechanisms can slowly erode rule systems, which then wither away and eventually can be replaced by new practices and norms of behavior (Kofinas, 2005).

Our dependence on language to communicate and the inherent ambiguity of language can lead to a number of unconscious processes of rule change as well. Rules are composed of mere words and, as Vincent Ostrom (1997) has frequently pointed out, words are not always understood by everyone with the same meaning (see also 2008a, 2008b). A guard may not understand the rules the same way as users. A guard, for example, may interpret rules that place heavy costs on the guard in contrast to those rules that involve low costs. Babbling equilibrium problems are widespread, even among scholars studying rules and norms systems! And, it is a key problem for the social sciences (E. Ostrom, 2005: 179).

Dopfer et al. (2004) view an economic system as a population of rules, a structure of rules, and a process of rules, where the micro domain refers to the individual carriers of rules and the systems they organize, the macro consists of the population structure of systems of meso, which is where processes of rule change take place.

It is worth restating that it would be naıve to assume that any evolutionary process always leads to better outcomes. In biological systems, competition among populations of diverse species led to the weeding out of many individuals over time who were outcompeted for mates and food in a given environment.