history

“Open for Business”

When I took an art history course about Modernism, one of the subjects that I most enjoyed learning about was the Modernist photographs of industry and urbanization in the 1920s and 1930s. The work of photographers such as Charles Sheeler, Paul Strand, and E. O. Hoppé showed the unexpected beauty and majesty of purely functional structures. And the work of photographers such as Lewis Hine showed the humanity of the workers whose contributions were often overlooked in celebrations of industrial and economic growth.

Open for Business, an exhibition that is currently touring the UK, contributes to this grand tradition of photography that explores industry and commerce. When I visited the UK in April, I was lucky enough to see this show – which I stumbled across entirely by chance, (more…)

Up Close and Personal with the UK General Election

Last month I spent two weeks in Britain, and purely by chance those two weeks were during the campaign leading up to the UK general election on May 7th. Elections are an incredibly important part of democracy, and I never forget how fortunate I am to live in a country where I get to vote and where my vote can make a difference. Since I became old enough to vote, I have only missed participating in one election that I was eligible to vote in (I had a good excuse – I was in Antarctica). But my trip to the UK gave me the opportunity to see how election campaigns work in another country with a parliamentary system of government – and that being the country whose legislative structure most strongly influenced my own country’s legislative system. (more…)

Evaluating Historical Research in Business

I started doing research in organizational and business history for no other reason than I like to try to figure out why things are the way they are. I have no formal training in historical research – I’ve learned what I’ve learned mostly from experience, and from very helpful suggestions from more experienced researchers along the way. But I’m also working within an academic discipline that doesn’t have a strong record of historical research, and that only considers certain kinds of historical research to be legitimate or worthwhile.

That background made me very interested in Jeffrey Smith’s recent article “Writing Media History Articles: Manuscript Standards and Scholarly Objectives”, which was published in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. While Smith is specifically discussing research in media history, I found that a lot of the issues he discusses in the article are true for research in business history as well. And many of the issues he identifies resonated with my own experiences of trying to get research in business history published in academic journals. (more…)

Society, Power, and “Hack Attack”

Nick Davies’ book Hack Attack  is a powerful read. It’s the story of Davies’ investigation into the phone hacking conducted by several of the British newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International. The investigation led to a judicial inquiry, several criminal convictions,  and the closure of the News of the World newspaper. And since Hack Attack was released last year, eight victims of phone hacking have filed a civil suit against the Mirror group of newspapers for invasion of privacy – a suit that is currently being heard in a London court.

Davies’ book describes the details and scope of the hacking – and how the hacking gradually became exposed, thanks to several anonymous informants – but also illuminates (more…)

A Step Forward

As an adult figure skater, and an avid skating fan, the world figure skating championships are always an incredibly exciting event for me to watch. The 2015 world championships in March were particularly interesting, because they were the first world championships of the four years leading up to the 2018 Olympics. As usually happens after every Olympics, many recent world and Olympic competitors have retired or have decided to take a break from competition. So the 2015 world championships were one of the first opportunities for skaters to begin establishing themselves as potential contenders for 2018.

But something else important occurred at the 2015 world figure skating championships. It’s something that didn’t get a lot of attention in the media, but it should be acknowledged. And that’s the fact that Eric Radford, who won the pairs event with his partner Meagan Duhamel, is the first openly gay skater to win a world championship. (more…)

My Boston, One Year Later

This past week marked the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. And it’s also nearly a year since I was in Boston, just after the bombings, in a bright sunny springtime.

One of the many posters and signs expressing support for Boston after the bombings - this one at the Boston Architectural College on Newbury Street.

One of the many posters and signs expressing support for Boston after the bombings – this one at the Boston Architectural College on Newbury Street, May 2013.

I don’t think I will ever forget (more…)

Some Thoughts on Orly Lobel’s “Talent Wants to Be Free”

I had the pleasure of meeting Orly Lobel this past September at the Employment and Labor Law Colloquium at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. As it happened, the colloquium was held just a few days before Orly’s book, Talent Wants to Be Free: Why We Should Learn to Love Leaks, Raids, and Free Riding, was officially published. At the colloquium, Orly gave a brief talk about the themes of the book , and I was so intrigued by what she discussed that I bought the book as soon as it was available here.

I was hoping to have posted something sooner about Talent Wants to be Free. But the book was so thought-provoking for me that I ended up reading a part of it, putting it aside to think about what I had read, and then reading some more. So it took me a while to get through the entire book – but that’s an indication of how much valuable information there is in it, and how smartly it’s written.

(more…)

Anita Hill, Two Decades Later

Last week, Anita Hill appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  She was there to promote a new documentary about her experiences in 1991, when she testified to a US Senate committee that she had been sexually harassed at work by Clarence Thomas, at the time a nominee for the position of US Supreme Court Justice. (Stewart’s interview with Hill is here for American viewers; Canadian viewers can see it here.)

In her interview with Stewart, Hill explained that she got involved in the documentary to help educate younger workers about why sexual harassment is still (more…)

Goodbye Madiba.

Growing up in Canada, I know how Nelson Mandela symbolized the struggle against apartheid in South Africa to the rest of the world. This is a truly beautiful and moving piece by a South African about how much Mandela meant to his own country and his own people.

Campari and Sofa

2_t750x550Our beloved Tata (father) has died. He had been ill for months and we didn’t really know how he was. Of course, it was none of our business. He had retired from public life – he was no longer a political force, he was a private man living with his beloved wife and grandchildren, in a pretty home amongst the trees.

If only it was that simple.

Nelson Mandela was South Africa’s conscience. He brought us out of the struggle pretty much blood-free. He walked with us while we found our footing. He managed our expectations and our day-to-day as our President. And he said wise words. Things we knew we should be saying ourselves. But were too afraid to utter. He addressed the need to forgive, not to forget – but to see the other as a human. Not as an enemy.

We needed to believe he would always…

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Changing the Story: A Visit with the Las Vegas Culinary Workers Union

I recently returned from presenting a paper at the 8th Annual Colloquium of Current Scholarship on Employment and Labor Law, a conference that was started by a group of American law professors, and hosted this year by the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Although I am not a lawyer or a law professor, and although there are some pretty significant differences between American and Canadian labor and employment law, this particular conference is always extremely rewarding. The program is very inclusive – people present research at all stages of development, from potential ideas to already published books and articles – so I always learn a lot and meet really interesting people.

There was some excellent research presented at the conference itself, but what I want to talk about in this post is an event that for me, as a Canadian, was (more…)