New Zealand Work Research Institute - Business and Labour History Group

Business and Labour History Group
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Business and Labour History Group

The Business and Labour History Group is led by Associate Professor Simon Mowatt. This specialist research group highlights the contribution of historical business and labour studies to critical scholarship, contemporary policy and teaching and learning, linking the international, Pacific and Auckland communities.

The group focuses on the following main approaches to business and labour history:

  • Historical case studies of organisational development and innovation, including studies of technological and industrial change
  • Labour history concerning employment relations, working class culture, trade unions, non-union employee representation, political parties of labour and international comparative studies in all of these areas
  • Historical analysis of public policy development in employment relations, labour law, occupational health and safety, gender and diversity
  • Historical research in economics, employment relations, labour law, occupational health and safety, marketing, management, accountancy, finance and other business-based disciplines.
  • The development of historical perspectives of long term trends in business practices and ideology, including patterns of work and organisation and labour relations, as a contribution to understanding where we are today, and why.

Current research

  • The history of the UK magazine publishing industry

Simon Mowatt is co-author in the Oxford University Press monograph examining the impact of the technological change on strategies and employment in the industry.

British Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman recently wrote supporting Yahoo's Marissa Mayer that working from home is not an adequate alternative to being in the office. Associate Professor Simon Mowatt, of the Business and Labour History Group, reminds us that the publisher of British Vogue Conde Nast was itself at the forefront of adopting technologies that revolutionised magazine publishing by changing work practices in the industry, and that the possibilities of remote contributors in fact led to a golden age for magazine publishing. In 1986 Conde Nast led the British magazine market by installing a centralised computer network, and developments in computing soon changed the rules of the industry and working patterns inside it. Future publishing, founded by Chris Anderson in 1985, for example exploited the use of new  personal-computer based DTP systems ability to include external contributions cost effectively to grow into an international leader in a range of markets. By 1998 IPC, the UK's largest publisher, was able to publish Mountain Bike Rider mainly through external contributions managed by editor Brant Richards working from home, with many magazines being made up from 60% external copy. Remote working greatly changed the scope of contributions – rather than journalists many contributors were now part of the magazine's markets – mountain bikers themselves for example. This led to an enormous growth both in the amount of magazines and in the quality of specialist magazines through the 1990s. Whilst some magazines may still benefit from a central office location and working methods, the industry, its employees, and us – the readers – benefited enormously by the changes made possible by teleworking.

Associate Professor Simon Mowatt's book on the history of the UK Magazine Publisher history with Professor Howard Cox will be published later this year with Oxford University Press.

  • Understanding the organic food market

The market for organic foods has developed at different rates across developed nations, and affords an opportunity to examine how location specific barriers to entrepreneurship develop. Despite its ‘clean green’ image the organic market in New Zealand has been late developing, and has not reached a comparable relative size with other market economies. Read more.


Our members

Simon Mowatt (Group Leader)
Andrew Parsons
Carol Neill
Edwina Pio
Erling Rasmussen
Felicity Lamm
Geoffrey Brooke
Gina Xu
Jeremy Hayman
Julie Douglas
Julienne Molineaux
Keith Hooper

Lisa Nguyen
Paul Moon
Peter Gilderdale
Peter Skilling
Rob Allen
Romie Littrell
Rowena Sinclair

Key linkages

Our research associates

Adrienne Puckey, University of Auckland
Barry Foster, Massey University
Bradon Ellem, University of Sydney
Chellie Spiller, University of Auckland
Christopher Poullaos, University of Sydney
Claire Regnault, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Gay Simpkin, Research Associate
Geoffrey G. Jones, Harvard Business School
Gordon Boyce, University of Newcastle
Greg Patmore, University of Sydney
Howard Cox, University of Worcester
John Singleton, Sheffield Hallam University
Michael Belgrave, Massey University
Nevan Wright, Auckland Institute of Studies
Peter Franks, Research Associate
Ray Markey, Macquarie University
Teresa da Silva Lopes, York University

Last updated: 09 Apr 2014 4:01pm

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