The Impact, Times, and Resilience of Objects: Bringing Together Materiality Studies and Business History in an Empirical Exploration of a Cutlery Factory

Publikation: Working paperForskningpeer review

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Instead of using a more traditional business history approach, this working paper analyses the history of the company Alfenide Ltd. (referred to as DFA) focusing on its products (spoons), machinery (presses), and material (stainless steel). DFA was a typical Danish family-owned, mediumsized company that existed for almost 100 years, from 1880 to 1972. However, it failed to adapt
when international competition intensified in the decades after World War II. Many Danes have used DFA products in restaurants, on ferries, and in their homes. In my analysis, I consider the materiality of the enterprise to investigate whether focusing on the doing of objects inspired by the material turn can supplement more common analytical strategies and models of explanation in
business history. The history of DFA shows that a focus on materiality supplements more traditional approaches by clarifying how the many daily micro-processes that involve both human and nonhuman actors are essential in determining a company’s success or failure. Instead of a story of DFA’s overall strategy and deliberate decision-making, the history of DFA told from the perspective of the products, machinery, and raw material becomes an account of the messy everyday, where changes happen slowly over a longer period, and where it can be difficult to separate one day from the next.
UdgiverCentre for Business History
Antal sider30
StatusUdgivet - 2023


  • Materiality
  • Temporality
  • Non-human actors
  • Business history
  • Slow innovation