Facts, Fictions, or Something in Between: The Constructive and Destructive Power of History Work

  • Jan Lodge (Speaker)
  • Eero Vaara (Speaker)
  • Harry Liebersohn (Speaker)
  • Tina Dacin (Speaker)
  • Schultz, M. (Speaker)
  • David Kirsch (Speaker)
  • Peter Dacin (Speaker)
  • Joel Mohr (Speaker)
  • Runjia Zhang (Speaker)
  • Milo Shaoqing Wang (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationLecture and oral contribution


Symposium. Drawing on the social-symbolic work perspective, we define "history work" as purposeful, reflexive efforts intended to change or maintain the history of an organization, a field, or a society for and among critical audiences. In particular, history work involves intentional efforts to shape or reshape a combination of discursive, relational, and material elements that constitute a meaningful presentation of the past. Building upon existing studies that regard history as socially constructed, we seek to develop this research agenda by reflecting on three distinct characteristics of history work: First, while previous studies tend to see history as strategically used by executives or entrepreneurs, history work in our view may be employed both in a top down fashion and from the bottom up. In other words, history work is not necessarily a deliberate product of firm strategy, as it can be emergent from organizational processes. Second, while previous studies often focus on the discursive aspect of constructing history, involving cultural framing and interpretation of the past, history work in our view also entails a material aspect that attends to the discovery, recovery, and recreation of historical artifacts. Thus, the construction and maintenance of history might entail a more comprehensive set of activities than previously assumed. Lastly, history work is often not just about history. Instead, the purpose of history work is often connected to the construction or destruction of other social-symbolic objects, including identities, strategies, and institutions. In other words, history work is adopted for its power to change or maintain other important objects in organizational life.
Period7 Aug 2022
Event titleThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2022: Creating a Better World Together
Event typeConference
Conference number82
OrganiserAcademy of Management
LocationSeattle, United States, WashingtonShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational