For any AIB members interested in more historical reflections:
'Weber revisited: Christianity and Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies'
A session proposal for the World Business History Conference, "State
of the art in World Business History - a first review", Frankfurt am
Main, March 16-17th, 2014
Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism has been one
of the most influential and controversial interpretations of the
causes of economic growth since its publication over a century ago.
The thesis compares Catholic and Protestant denominations in early
modern Europe, and the role of Calvinist teachings on salvation on
increasing capital accumulation and effort. The details of the thesis
are much disputed, but the wider hypothesis that religious beliefs in
general, and some Christian beliefs specifically, aid the formation of
cognitive frameworks that have the indirect benefit of stimulating
entrepreneurship remains highly influential (Ashton 1948; Landes 1998;
McCloskey 2010; Munro 2010). Empirical support for the wider thesis
can be seen in the disproportionate influences of inter alia
non-conformists before and during the British Industrial Revolution,
Protestant Evangelicals in the US Gilded Age, Jewish entrepreneurs in
the US and UK, among many others (Ashton 1948; Jeremy 1990; Godley
2001; Godley and Casson 2010; Baghdiantz et al 2005).
But the last half century has seen two historic transformations.
First, after remarkable growth in the world’s Christian population,
the demographic centre of the global Christianity has shifted from the
Global North to the Global South. Within these regions, it is
Protestantism (and specifically Pentecostal and Charismatic
denominations) that has grown so quickly (Pew Research Center, 2011).
At the same time, the integration of much of the so-called Global
South into the global economy has had a dramatic effect on economic
growth there, powered disproportionately by indigenous
entrepreneurship (Bruton, Ahlstrom and Obloj 2008). Among sociologists
there is the beginnings of systematic research that seeks to explore
the relationship between these two transformations in emerging
economies – a growing proportion of Christians among the population
and increasing levels of indigenous entrepreneurship (e.g. Tong 2012
This proposed session seeks to invite up to five presentations from
business historians and other researchers (especially sociologists and
Global entrepreneurship scholars) focusing on the relationship between Christianity and
entrepreneurship in emerging economies (Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and
Latin America especially) in historical and comparative context. The
session’s aim is to encourage the empirical documentation of these
recent trends and to compare them with the far better documented cases
of Christian entrepreneurs in advanced economies in earlier periods.
Please send paper proposals by September 25th 2013 to session
organiser, Professor Andrew Godley, Director, Henley Centre for
Entrepreneurship, Henley Business School, University of Reading,
T.S. Ashton. The Industrial Revolution (1760–1830) (1948 OUP).
Baghdiantz, I., McCabe, G. Harlaftis and I. Minoglou (2005) Diaspora
Entrepreneurial Networks: Four Centuries of History, (Berg, Oxford).
Bruton, G. Ahlstrom D, Obloj, K. 2008. Entrepreneurship in Emerging
Economies: Where Are We Today and Where Should the Research Go in the
Future. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 32 (1) January: 1-14.
Andrew Godley. Jewish Immigrant Entrepreneurship in London and New
York: Enterprise and Culture (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave
Andrew Godley and Mark Casson, ‘Britain, 1900-2000’, in David S.
Landes, Joel Mokyr and William J. Baumol eds, The Invention of
Enterprise: Entrepreneurship from Mesopotamia to Modern Times
(Princeton University Press) 2010: 243-272.
David Jeremy, Capitalists and Christians (OUP 1990).
David Landes, Wealth and Poverty of Nations: why some are so rich and
some so poor. 1998. New York, Norton.
Dierdre McCloskey, Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the
Modern World. 2010, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
John Munro (2010), ‘Tawney’s Century, 1540-1640: The Roots of Modern
Capitalist Entreprneurship’, in David Landes, Joel Mokyr and WJ Baumol
(eds), The Invention of Enterprise: Entrepreneurship from Ancient
Mesopotamia to Modern Times (Princeton University Press, Princeton
Pew Research Center, Forum on Religion and Public Life Global
Christianity December 2011.
Joy Kooi-Chin Tong. Overseas Chinese Christian Entrepreneurs in Modern
China: A Case Study of the Influence of Christian Ethics on Business
Life Anthem Press, London. 2012.