Oral History and Writing the Business History of Emerging Markets
22 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2018
Date Written: November 27, 2018
This working paper highlights the benefits that rigorous use of oral history can offer to research on the contemporary business history of emerging markets. Oral history can help fill some of the major information voids arising from the absence of a strong tradition of corporate archives in most countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Oral history also permits a level of nuance that is hard to obtain even if written documents exist and are accessible in corporate and governmental archives. Oral histories can provide insights into why events did not occur, and to why companies chose certain industries over others, including wishing to avoid sectors where there was extensive government interference. Oral history can shed light on hyper-sensitive topics, such corruption, which are rarely formally documented. While the methodological challenges of oral history are considerable and fully acknowledged, oral history can still be seen as a critical source of data on opinions, voices and judgements on events on which there was often silence in written records.
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