Managing the past

Authored by: Alun Munslow

The Routledge Companion to Management and Organizational History

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415823715
eBook ISBN: 9780203550274
Adobe ISBN: 9781135918453


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The postmodern (multi-sceptical) incursion with its epistemic doubts about any form of foundationalism in terms of the ‘story of the past’ has produced but failed to answer what are for most practitioner historians a series of tiresome and irrelevant questions. These questions have been about whether history is the fundamental prerequisite to (a) knowing where we came from and (b) becoming the basis for future planning. As is well known, for ‘postmodern historians’ the utility – indeed the very idea – of ‘learning from the past’ is unavoidably fraught with epistemological and ontological problems. Not least among these is how to manage ‘the-past-as-history’. Of course, for some history theorists – one immediately thinks of Keith Jenkins – the question is whether we need ‘history’ at all (Jenkins, 1991, 2003, 2013). Or at least, do we need history defined in a particular way – that particular kind of history that its advocates and practitioners have self-defined as being practical, realist, empirical, analytical (specifically inferential/colligatory) and representationalist?

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