Networks and clusters in business history

Authored by: Emily Buchnea

The Routledge Companion to Business History

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415855563
eBook ISBN: 9780203736036
Adobe ISBN: 9781135007836


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Analysis of business networks and clusters by historians has become a prominent strand of research in several areas of business history over the past two decades. While many business historians choose to unravel the complexities of business relationships of the past, not all have chosen to adopt the framework of social network analysis to examine the functioning and characteristics of these relationships. Therefore, this chapter examines the presence and use of network themes and analysis within business history while also highlighting areas where networks have been misinterpreted and areas which could benefit from further research. The frequent use of social network analysis in the fields of sociology and contemporary management/business studies allow business historians to view how network analysis can be employed in their own work. Further to this, by looking to these fields for research inspiration through an analytical framework, historians are able to create a theoretical fluency which Maclean et al. (2015) argue will add to the dual integrity of business historians’ research.

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