HISTORY 364D: American Business History

Reader Requirements: professional experience dealing with regulatory issues: business management in particular, also consulting, policy or legal work related to business-government relations

  1. Course Information
  2. Schedule
  3. Giving Feedback

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Paige Welch

The historical development of business in the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? Case Study
For whom? MBAs, Undergraduate Students in Business History, Readers with an interest in Business History or Business-Government Relations
Where would such writing typically be found? Harvard Business School Publishing Case Studies, Oxford Online Business Case Studies
Why would someone usually read it? In most instances, readers would be encountering the case study as part of a course on business strategy, business-government relations, or business history.  This type of writing puts a premium on drawing readers into a particular historical puzzle, furnishing sufficient context to situate them as they consider it, and presenting a compelling historical narrative that gives readers the capacity to analyze and discuss the best answers for it.

See examples of bios of possible readers for this course


Student – Reader Interactions

Here are the deadlines for students in the reader project:

Oct 26:   Two-page “prospectus” of proposed research due to professor.

Oct 29: Student-reader matches are announced.

By Nov. 2: Students and readers schedule their Introductory Meeting.

By Nov 8:  Introductory Meeting completed.

By Nov 19: Student sends rough but coherent draft to reader; reader gives feedback ASAP but within one week.  (Please see notes on Giving Feedback below.)

Nov 23: Complete first draft due to professor.

By Nov 29: Student sends short “sketch” draft to reader; reader gives feedback ASAP but no later than 1 week. (Please see note on Giving Feedback below.)

By Dec 6: Students and readers to meet (via webcam, skype, phone…) to discuss revisions and feedback.

Dec 10 –Final paper due to professor and to reader.

Full syllabus

2015 American Business History Syllabus

Research Paper Topics

Giving Feedback

Giving feedback is the activity around which the entire project is designed. You may have considerable professional experience giving feedback on writing — whether to colleagues, employees, or other contexts — or perhaps this is an fairly novel experience. Given the aims and nature of the Reader Project, we are hoping that our volunteers engage with student writing in a particular way–one that is quite different from what is conventionally done in other contexts.

The primary aim of the project is to help students really understand what it means to write for readers, rather than as a school assignment. Think about the following when you give feedback, whether in writing or in real time:

  • Respond as a reader rather than as an editor. (They can get basic editorial help from others.) Focus on sharing your reactions to the draft as a user of such writing. What are you thinking as you read? More

Instructor’s response questions

Please focus your feedback on the following questions:

  1. Does the paper provide you with sufficient context so that you can understand the issue being addressed and its relevance?
  2. Is the historical research through and engaging? Do you find the choice of source material to be appropriate and compelling?
  3. Are the policy implications presented in clearly?  If you were the decision maker, would you find the policy discussion useful?
  4. The ideal report should provide a good balance between engagement with historical research and its application to the specific policy dilemma. How well does the report maintain this balance? Is there too much history but not a thin policy analysis, or vice versa?

Guidelines for research paper – Please use your time to focus on the content aspects of the guidelines, rather than the citation format!