East Asian Economic and Business History

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Recent Research on Chinese Business History in the United States

I would like to bring your attention to a bibliographic essay “Recent Studies of Chinese Business History in America” by Linsun Cheng of the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

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Filed under: Business History, East Asia,

Timur Kuran’s review article on Ian Morris’ recent book (Foreign Affairs)

As a historian interested in the development of science and technology in East Asia, I follow the scholarly debate about the Needham Question. The Needham Question is basically this:  why did modern science and technology develop in Europe when China seemed much better placed to achieve it?

Until a few centuries ago, East Asia led the West in many areas, from gunpowder, printing, to navigation.  The Needham Question is named after Joseph Needham, the twentieth-century British sinologist who tried to explain it. There is now a Needham Research Institute at the University of Cambridge devoted to the study of the history of science and technology in East Asia.

Timur Kuran, an economist at Duke University who is interested in the Islamic world, has written a review article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs on Ian Morris‘ recent book, “Why the West Rules — For Now.” The Stanford University classicist and historian has written broadly on world history. This article discusses the comparative history of science and technology in the East Asian, Islamic and Western world. Read this interesting article at: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67035/timur-kuran/west-is-best?page=show You can also watch Professor Morris talk about his book on the Forum Network.

Filed under: Business History, East Asia, History of Science and Technology

Papers on East Asian Business History at the BHC 2011

The Business History Conference will take place in St. Louis Missouri this year (31 March-2 April). As someone who studies the business histories of China, Japan, and Korea, I was pleased to see that there are several papers about the first of these two countries at this year’s BHC.

Minoru Shimamoto, Hitotsubashi University “R&D Strategy and Knowledge Creation in Japanese Chemical Firms, 1980-2010: Entry and Withdrawal in High-Tech Chemical Markets”

Eugene K. Choi, Hitotsubashi University “Enter the Knowledge: Ways of Modernization for the Meiji Cotton Spinners”

Courtney Fullilove, Wesleyan University “Peddling Florida Water in Yokohama, ca. 1870”

Di Yin Lu, Harvard University “Professionals in Transition: The Shanghai Art Dealers, 1921-1949”

Nick White, Liverpool John Moores University “Managing Political Risk in International Shipping: The Ocean Group in Eastern Asia and Western Africa, 1950s to 1980s”

Tom Nicholas, Harvard Business School “Hybrid Innovation in Meiji Japan”


Shigehiro Nishimura, Kansai University
“International Patent Control and Transfer of Knowledge: The United States and Japan before World War II”

M. Stephen Salmon, Library and Archives Canada “Transacting a Successful Business”: Knowledge, Informal Empire, and Canadian Life Insurance Companies in China, 1892-1941″

The full program of the BHC is now online.

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Shinya Sugiyama’s Economic History Lectures

Shiya Sugiyama is an economics professor at Keio University and President of the Socio-Economic History Society of Japan. He teaches a module on Japanese economic history and has placed videos of these lectures online. They are well organised and clearly presented. Moreover, they are based on current research—in his lectures, Sugigama explains some of the recent debates in Japanese economic history, such as the role of the Edo period or World War II in the country’s economic development.

Keio University has placed many videos of lectures and other courseware materials online so that anyone can view them. While many of these lectures are in Japanese, some lectures are also available in English. Keio University is part of the Japan Opencourseware Consortium and one of over 20 Japanese universities to adopt the OpenCourseWare approach pioneered at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Back in 2002, MIT OpenCourseWare (MIT OCW) was launched with the aim of putting all of the educational materials from its undergraduate- and graduate-level courses online, partly free and openly available to anyone. MIT releases its materials to the public under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike licence.
In any event, Prof. Sugigama’s lectures are a wonderful resource and much recommended to anyone who can understand Japanese and is interested in Japanese economic history.

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