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Power, Archives and the Making of Rhetorical Organizational Histories: A stakeholder perspective

Journal article
Authors Andrew Popp
Susanna Fellman
Published in Organization Studies
ISSN 0170-8406
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Economic History
Language en
Keywords rhetorical history, stakeholder perspective, archives
Subject categories History, Other Social Sciences


We contribute to the rhetorical history concept by focusing on the corporate archive, a key source for constructing rhetorical histories. We propose a stakeholder perspective as a way to model the constellation of power and interests around the corporate archive, identifying four key stakeholder groups: owners; archivists; historians; and audiences. Recent work has problematized the rhetorical history concept, arguing that rhetorical histories are more unstable and harder to control by managers than suggested by earlier work. This paper contributes by exploring the corporate archive as a source of contestation shaped by the varying degrees of power and interest held by key stakeholders. We propose a simple stakeholder perspective on the corporate archive before applying it to four case studies. Application allows us to refine this approach by revealing the interplay of forces around the corporate archive in relation to the construction of rhetorical history.

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