Abstract:The development of corporate history writing in the Federal Republic has been characterized by a striking relationship between company histories written or initialized by corporations and the slowly institutionalizing academic business history – in short: between public relations and science. Moreover, corporate history writing was closely related to the dispute over the Nazi past of major German companies. Relieving narrative patterns such as those of the «decent merchant» have determined the historical self-image of large companies for decades. By contrast, enterprise-funded contract research since the 1990s has been fundamentally different in its results from older commissioned hagiographies – the effect, however was the same: a promotional image gain for the companies. Thus, a constant remains to be recorded: From the Nuremberg economic trials (Flick, Krupp, IG Farben) and the trial Deutsche Bank vs. Czichon on the founding of the Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte to the boom of Nazi contract research – in the discourse on Nazi history of German companies, historical science has always taken an important legitimization function for the companies. By now, companies have learned that only proven independent research achieves the desired publicity effect of credibility and can counteract media scandalization dynamics.
Zeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte – de Gruyter
Published: Mar 5, 2018
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