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British banks and their Aesop's fables: organizational memories of the governance and management of financial crisis

Barnes, V. and Newton, L. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1453-8824 (2021) British banks and their Aesop's fables: organizational memories of the governance and management of financial crisis. In: Cassis, Y. and Schenk, C. R. (eds.) Remembering and Learning from Financial Crises. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 184-206. ISBN 9780198870906

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Abstract/Summary

Do companies remember past crises, mistakes and failures? If they do, how do they do it? In the book, 'Reimaging Business History', Scranton and Fridenson argue that organizations remember events and lessons through a concept they describe as ‘active learning memory’. This is distinctly different from what we would think of as knowledge-based economies, or to use the linguistics of Chandlerian scholarship, learned or taught competencies. An organization invests in its active learning memory, they suggest, when it actively repeats or retells the account of business failure. This process of remembering teaches lessons about managerial conduct to encourage the organization to heed warnings from the past when making decisions in the future. These stories closely resemble the role of stories in the children’s book, Aesop’s fables, where a tale is told in such a way that the characters provide moral guidance to remind listeners about the value of good behaviour. Scranton and Fridenson develop ideas of/concepts of ‘learning memory’, as they believe that business failure is more common than success. They also argue that mistakes form an important educational experience. This paper follows such an approach. It focuses up-on organizational memory by examining the way in which British banks learned about failure through stories about financial crises.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Henley Business School > International Business and Strategy
ID Code:100886
Publisher:Oxford University Press

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