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The Centre for International Business History

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Our mission

To conduct and disseminate historical research that strengthens, or challenges, our understanding of business policies, practices and performance. Firms operate within a dynamic and changing environment, and our research examines how entrepreneurs, organisations and institutions have evolved over time. We are interested in organisations that have endured for generations, responding and adapting to social and technological change as they evolve, as well as the emergence of new organisations (or industries) that have been able to challenge or replace incumbent firms. We recognise the heterogeneity of organisational forms, and of the business systems of which they are a part. Our research explores the origins, and evolution, not just of large scale corporate enterprises, but also of SMEs, family firms, and business networks.

Many of the critical issues facing business organisations today (globalisation, rapid technological change, environmental sustainability, regulatory uncertainty, ethical dilemmas) are not in themselves new. Managers and entrepreneurs have faced similar challenges in the past. CIBH does not pretend to offer definitive solutions to these issues, but our research allows practitioners and policy-makers to draw from a wider pool of knowledge and experience, so that they can make more informed decisions.

Our archives

The University of Reading holds many important international business archives, including those of WH Smith, Huntley and Palmer, Woolworths and leading publishers and printers.

For a full listing of our Special Collections, please visit the archive index.

Latest news

The Centre for International Business History explores research on the origins and evolution of large scale corporate enterprises, SMEs, family firms and business networks.

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