Writing Business History: Creating Narratives

Andrew Popp*, Susanna Fellman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In this article we examine business history’s relationship to narrative history writing. In so doing we respond to the Call for Paper’s question: ‘storytelling vs business history: do business historians create narratives and in what ways?’ We survey attitudes in business history to narrative history writing, the relationship between archive, narrative, and historical knowledge claims, and the importance of writing practices and qualities. We report the results of interviews with practicing business historians and conclude that whilst the discipline has an ambiguous relationship with narratives and narrative history writing, there is a recognition that all historians are to an extent engaged in the construction of narratives, whenever they write. We argue that a re-engagement with narrative history writing might provide a way of resolving a current epistemological impasse between realist and interpretivist positions. Ultimately, any narrative turn in business history will be incomplete without an examination of the status of narrative history writing within the field.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness History
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1242-1260
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Narrative history
  • Archives
  • Writing
  • Historical knowledge
  • Practice

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