Opinions: Business History and Anthropology

By Walter Friedman, Louis Galambos, Eric Godelier, Gwendolyn Gordon, Geoffrey Jones, Per H. Hansen, Eric W. Orts, Daniel Pope, Philip Scranton, Jeffrey L. Sturchio, R. Daniel Wadhwani, & Greg Urban


This book is dedicated to one of its co-authors, Professor Gwendolyn Gordon, who died at the much too early age of forty-one in December 2021.

Gwen Gordon was appointed as a member of the standing faculty in the Legal Studies & Business Ethics Department of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 2013.  Professor Gordon was a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School, and she received her doctorate in anthropology from Princeton University.  Prior to joining Wharton, she worked as a corporate lawyer with Shearman & Sterling in New York and London.

Professor Gordon’s research interests were wide-ranging.  Her ethnographic research focused on the cultural norms and contemporary practices of corporate governance and social responsibility. She did long-term fieldwork studying an indigenously owned corporation in New Zealand.

As indicated in her contribution with me here (and she was the lead partner in the writing of it), Gwen believed deeply in the importance of the anthropological study of business, particularly as informed by legal and historical understandings.  Gwen also had a keen interest in environmental protection and advanced the important idea of “environmental personhood” in an article in the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law (2019).

A gifted writer of fiction as well as nonfiction, she is dearly missed by her many friends, family, and colleagues.

By Eric W. Orts


December 7, 2022



1. Business Anthropologist, Meet Business Historian
Greg Urban

2. Life in the Corporation: Lessons from Business History
Louis Galambos
Jeffrey L. Sturchio

3. How Business Methods Change: The Cases of Salesmanship and Forecasting
Walter Friedman

4. Is Business Anthropology Useful for Business Historians? Potential Highways and Dead-ends
Eric Godelier

5. History and the Anthropology of Firms: A Legal Perspective
Gwendolyn Gordon & Eric W. Orts

6. Can Business History and Anthropology Learn from Each Other?
Per H. Hansen & R. Daniel Wadhwani

7. Business History and Business Anthropology
Geoffrey G. Jones

8. Business History and Anthropology
Philip Scranton

9. Business History and Business Anthropology: Some Reflections and Suggestions
Daniel Pope

About Author

Dr. Eric W. Orts: Guardsmark Professor. Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics and Professor of Management
The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Legal Studies and Business Ethics Department.

Dr. Gwendolyn Gordon: Attended college at Cornell University, completed law school at Harvard University, and earned her PhD at Princeton University. Gwen was an accomplished anthropologist, avid fiction writer, and was loved by her students at Penn. Gwen was most proud of the close relationships she had with her family, friends, and godchildren, who adored her and will miss her dearly. A wake was held at TOALE BROTHERS FUNERAL HOME in Bradenton Florida on January 5, 2022 followed by funeral services at Bradenton SDA Church. Gwen Gordon was appointed to the department of Legal Studies and Business Ethics in 2013. Her research was an ethnographically-informed comparative corporate law, focusing specifically on the intersection of indigenous peoples’ cultural norms with issues of corporate governance and social responsibility. Gwen did long-term ethnographic fieldwork in New Zealand with an indigenously owned corporation. She received a B.A. in 2002 from Cornell University and her J.D. in 2006 from Harvard Law School, where she focused upon social and economic human rights for indigenous groups. She received a Ph.D. in anthropology from Princeton University in 2014; prior to her appointment Gwen worked as a corporate attorney in the London and New York offices of Shearman and Sterling LLP.



Date of Publication

December 25, 2022

File Size: 2608 KB
Length: xiii + 94 pages

Other KSP Books

Other KSP Books