Fiction and Forecast: Understanding Germany's Higher Trade Schools' Curricular Development 1898-1945

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    Many business leaders, managers and entrepreneurs are educated in business schools (Engwall, Kipping, & Üsdiken, 2016). Yet, little research has been conducted on how and why business schools develop curricular orientations and how those change over time. While several studies have traced the history of business schools (Engwall et al., 2016; Khurana, 2007; Pettigrew, Cornuel, & Hommel, 2014), scholars focus primarily on the emergence and organizational setup of business schools rather than the evolution of their curricula. The few historical studies that deal with shifts in curricula interpret those developments as the business schools’ reactions to changing demands for competencies in the economy (Locke, 1985; Passant, 2021). These interpretations overlook that apart from demand, education and especially curricula development is shaped by fictional expectations about the future (Beckert, 2016). This raises the following question: How do fictional expectations about the future shape business schools’ curriculum development over time?
    In this article, I identify two fields of fictional expectations about the future and explore how they shaped the curricula of Germany’s higher trade schools over the time of their existence (1898-1945). Based on archival sources from three higher trade schools, in Leipzig, Berlin and Frankfurt, I show how the two fields of fictional expectations, about the future of how business is done and those the position of business within society shaped curricula development. I argue that instead of only reacting to external demands, higher trade schools played an active role in co-creating demands for their education by convincing economic and social actors of the legitimacy of their fictional expectations. This article provides a new theoretical perspective to a currently underexplored aspect of the business school's history while also raising new questions about curriculum development at contemporary business schools and their relationship to social and economic expectations about the future of business.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2022
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2022
    Event2022 BHC Meeting: Business History in Times of Disruption: Embracing Complexity and Diversity - Mexico City, Mexico
    Duration: 6 Apr 20229 Apr 2022


    Conference2022 BHC Meeting
    CityMexico City
    Internet address

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