UCL School of Management is delighted to welcome Davide Ravasi, CASS, to host a research seminar discussing ‘Bringing the past into the future: Forms of engagement with history in organizations.’
A growing body of research on how organizations engage with their histories has shown that organizational members revisit history in the light of present-day concerns to inspire or legitimate future courses of action. Studies of the processes through which organizational history is brought to bear on the present and future, however, remain rare. To uncover the processes and practices through which organizational members systematically engage with history, we investigated the uses of four corporate museums established by Italian manufacturers of consumer goods Alessi, Alfa Romeo, Ducati and Piaggio. We identified three distinct forms of engagement, reflecting different perspectives on the relationship between history and identity, involved different cognitive processes and emotional responses, and influenced organizational action in different ways. Our theoretical insights have significant implications not only for understanding the use of history in organizations, but also for research on organizational identity and organizational memory.