Anne SCHREIBER (Paderborn): The Logic of Sentiments: The »Pareto vogue« and the Organizations Group at Harvard Business School
Contribution to the Summer university “Cultures and knowledge of economy (18th-20th c.)” at the GHI Paris, June 21-24, 2016.
On the occasion of the Summer University of the German Historical Institute in Paris that will cover the subject of economic cultures and knowledge, parts of the dissertation project will be presented.
With relation to a history of economic knowledge the dissertation traces back the different origins of organizational theory during the 1920ies and 1940ies at the Harvard Business School, founded 1908. The interdisciplinary character of the organizations group encompasses the methods and objects of human biology, psychopathology, anthropology, sociology, and political economy.
Their object of research is constituted by the “human factor”, the conditions of psychosociological and physiological adaption to industrial environments, under the guidance of psychologist Elton Mayo and biochemist Lawrence Joseph Henderson. As director of the Harvard Fatigue Laboratory, Henderson examines the biological conditions of adaption. Mayo conducts the Hawthorne experiments at the Western Electric, the origin of the Human Relations movement.
During the summer school, the presentation will focus on the reception of the writings of Italian economist and sociologist Vilfredo Pareto, in the context of the organizations group. The so called “Pareto vogue” is related to his social theory with which he questions the realism of his economic models of late 19th century. With his social theory Pareto searches for a logic of sentiments that regulates human behavior. His theory of pre-reflexive, affective behavior disseminates into the academic milieu not only at the Business School.
The presentation will ask for the kind of knowledge being produced during the 1920ies and 1940ies. It will ask for the role of affects for the formation of research practices and discourses and it will question whether economic models of 19th century are being corrected. Further, it will ask how the theory of the elite is being transformed into the new discipline of management theory, and whether the vogue is being caused by scientific interests or sociopolitical motifs rather, in times of the growing sociopolitical relevance of large companies. With the rise of the welfare state, shortly before the economic depression, the presentation will ask for the kind of moral structure that the logic of sentiments involves.
Anne Schreiber is research associate and PhD student at the University of Paderborn since 2014. Prior to this, she was a member of the PhD-Net »Das Wissen der Literatur«, a bi-national doctoral program based at the Humboldt-University of Berlin. In 2008, she finished her studies in modern german literature, philosophy and economics also at the Humboldt-University of Berlin.