Penn Economic History Forum

2023-2024 Schedule

All meetings on Fridays from 2 pm to 4 pm unless otherwise noted.  All meetings in the History Department Lounge (CH209) with the exceptions (see below). Queries to Dan Raff (

Series Opening Event

On Friday, September 29th from 12:30pm through 4 pm, the Penn Economic History Forum will host a symposium on Richard Langlois’s recent The Corporation and the Twentieth Century: The History of American Business Enterprise (Princeton, 2023). The book is major piece of scholarship. Its subject is the coming of the managerial corporation (“managerial capitalism”) and what followed. It can be understood as an unusually broadly framed and sustained attack on the picture of these subjects presented in Alfred Chandler’s celebrated and once authoritative work The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business (Harvard, 1977) and subsequent publications. It is without question a deeply considered attempt at revision of the conventional wisdom.

A pdf file of the opening (and summary) chapter of the book is available via the PEHF webpage and will be sent directly to everyone on the seminar list-serv and everyone outside the university who identifies themselves via a note to the organizer as Those who would like to review a pdf of the Epilogue chapter prior to the symposium should email the organizer directly. Copies of the book itself, which is lengthy because detailed, can be conveniently obtained directly from the Princeton University Press via its website or from Amazon. Use code LANG30 for 30% off the list price on the Princeton website. (Amazon is offering 10% on its US site as of this writing, though if you have Amazon Prime you would not have to pay for shipping.)

The plan on the day is for formal commentaries from Brian Cheffins (Cambridge University), Alexander Field (Santa Clara University), Patrick Fridenson (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales), Naomi Lamoreaux (Yale and Michigan), Laura Phillips Sawyer (Georgia), and, family obligations permitting, Mark Roe (Harvard), a brief response from the author, and then extended discussion from the audience.

The meeting will take place in the History Department Lounge (College Hall 209) on the Penn campus in Philadelphia. There will be a buffet lunch on offer from noon East Coast time and refreshments from time to time during the course of the event. All are welcome to attend (but please signal intent to so that an accurate headcount for food [and chairs!] can be made). There will also be a Zoom link (but once again please signal intent so that sufficient capacity can be made available) and with it scope for asking and otherwise raising questions. NB that we intend to record the Zoom and make the recording accessible starting a few days after the event via the seminar website for anyone who is interested but has a conflict on the day.


Upcoming dates

November 10th date rescheduled for February 9, 2023 

December 8, 2023: Lee Vinsel (Virginia Tech), "Join Us in Preparing People for Tomorrow’s Jobs”: Robert Reich, the “New Economy,” and Nonliberal Human Capital Policies

January 26, 2024: Philip Scranton (Rutgers University), "War Horsepower: Managing Military Trucks under Capitalism and Communism, 1941-1955"

February 9, 2024: Ron Harris (Tel-Aviv University, visiting the Institute for Advanced Study)
Readings (in order): Overview, Chapter 7, and Chapter 8

February 23, 2024: Tobias Straumann (Zurich University), "Who paid Hitler’s debts? The United States, Israel and the great bargain of 1952"

March 29, 2024: Debjani Bhattacharya (Zurich University), "Climate Futures' Past: Law and Insurance in the Indian Ocean World, 1770-1850"

April 12, 2024: Colleen Dunlavy (Wisconsin), "How Government Made the U.S. into a Manufacturing Powerhouse"

April 26, 2024: Sofya Salomatina (Moscow State University), "Commercial Banking in the Russian Empire
in the Period 1860–1913: Development and Market Integration"


Penn Economic History Forum Archive