The Quakers: Forgotten Pioneers

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Title: The Quakers: Forgotten Pioneers
Authors: Kavanagh, Donncha
Brigham, Martin
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Date: 29-Jun-2018
Online since: 2019-04-29T07:56:55Z
Abstract: This chapter argues that there is much to be learned about the origins of organizing through looking back at how the Quakers—who have been largely forgotten and overlooked in management and organization studies’ founding narratives—were organized and how they ran their businesses. The chapter is structured as follows. First, we present a brief description and history of the Quakers (also known as the Society of Friends, or simply Friends) from 1650 to c. 1880. Even though the Quakers underwent a number of schisms during their history, the various branches share a common ideology, which we summarise. Second, we focus on Quakers’ remarkable success in business and commerce, especially during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This success has long been recognized by Quakers themselves and also by historians, even though it is largely absent from the history of management thought. Part of our objective is to better integrate this narrative into management and business history, which we do by describing the Quaker beliefs and practices that seemed to provide the basis for their success in business. We analyze these beliefs and practices in relation to contemporary debates within management and organization studies. Third, we proceed to examine the decline of Quaker businesses from the late nineteenth century onwards, a decline that we link with the rise of managerialism. We argue that the Quakers’ absence from the history of management thought is neither an accident nor an oversight, but rather is best understood as a deliberate, political act that benefited a new managerial elite that emerged out of mid-nineteenth century initiatives in corporate law. We conclude the chapter by reflecting on the lessons which might be learned through studying the Quakers and their approach to management and organization.
Type of material: Book Chapter
Publisher: Edward Elgar Publishing
Copyright (published version): 2018 the Editors
Keywords: QuakersSociety of FriendsSuccess in businessEighteenth centuryNineteenth centuryManagerialismHistory of management
DOI: 10.4337/9781785368752
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Language: en
Status of Item: Not peer reviewed
Is part of: Peltonen, T., Gaggiotti, H., Case, P. (eds.). Origins of organizing
ISBN: 978-1-78536-874-5
Appears in Collections:Business Research Collection

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