PD Dr. Stefanie van de Kerkhof
Stefanie van de Kerkhof

Current Working Papers

The 'Defenders of Security' - Transnational Images and Discourses of European Weapon Producers in the Cold War
  This paper is interested in the feeling of security and protection and how it was constructed in the Cold War. It focuses on powerful and dominant actors in the area of governmental and public discourse: the European Weapon Producers and their transnational strategies particularly in the field of image-creation and symbolic representation. The paper is part of a broader project on marketing strategies of leading European corporations like Rheinmetall, Krupp and Diehl (Germany), Le Creusot (France) and BAD (Great-Britain). These huge corporations created an image of themselves as “defenders of security”, of their products as “reliable friends” and of their advantageous technological knowledge. The transnational focus allows me on the one hand to differentiate between countries and sectors like tank, aeroplane and ammunition producers and on other hand to identify closer interdependences between NATO-partners. Besides images of high technology, economic development and dominant virility, there were two main fields of discourse, on which marketing strategies of firms like Rheinmetall focussed: security and trust. It should become clear, that the companies in Germany, France and Great Britain used those techniques of discourse framing for their marketing strategies, and that history played an important role for their argumentation. For the first time, weapon producers like Rheinmetall in Germany have opened their archives for contemporary historical research to the author. The case studies in the field of marketing are very fruitful for a deeper understanding of how national, transnational or global images of these corporations were created in the Cold War.

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"How to Sell Weapons - Arms Marketing and International Defense Fairs in the 19th and 20th Centuries"
  Business historians have shown in recent publications that the creation of a corporate image has become ever more important for firms in the course of the 19th and 20th century. What does this mean for weapon and arms producing enterprises, which are highly bound to a specific market structure? In examining this question, I shall first look at the structure of the different markets for weapons and military goods. In which way does the structure of the national and latter international arms trade influence the distribution and marketing strategies of European weapon producers like Krupp, Rheinmetall or Le Creusot? Then, I shall look at the different marketing strategies of these firms, which used national fairs and international expositions as well as special forms of event marketing. These business case studies in the field of marketing lead me to the creation of national, transnational or global semantics of the corporation. I shall look at the brands and logos which are designed and used in specific manners and which are transformed into symbols with a transnational or even global character.

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"Strategy and War: The Historical and Theoretical Origins of Strategic Management Approaches"
  Research in business history has increasingly drawn upon concepts originating from the field of 'strategic management', particularly in connection to the work of Alfred Chandler. Here, attempts have been made to respond to calls for providing a theoretical foundation to business history. It is striking that many such studies have adopted modern business management approaches without, however, discussing their suitability for addressing historical facts or locating them more precisely within their historical context. Indeed, the strategy concept that began to play a crucial role in the economic literature beginning in the 1950s is utilized in an extremely variegated, and sometimes even confusing, manner. A recent business primer lists a selection of 40 different definitions, which are nonetheless hardly elaborated on by the authors.
What, after all, is to be understood by such terms as 'growth strategy', 'strategic action' or 'strategic manoeuvres'? What are the implications of the various uses of the strategy concept and how can they be made fruitful for business historical research? In my paper I discuss the complex theoretical constructs relating to these terms - which originate from strategic thinking on war and military. This conceptual study was motivated by my work on the business strategies of the German iron and steel industry during the German Kaiserreich and the First World War, where I discussed in-depth the viability of strategic-management approaches for research in business history.

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"Women Entrepreneurs in the Early Industrialization - A Regional Comparison of the Ruhr and Upper Silesia"
  As recent studies have shown, the role of women entrepreneurs in the early industrialization process has been underestimated for decades. New case studies on small, medium sized and big enterprises have highlighted the importance of female entrepreneurship in France, Russia, Italy and Germany f.e. But despite these first approaches a lack of intense research on women entrepreneurs in the field of regional industrialization still exists. Therefore this paper is interested in a regional comparison of female entrepreneurship, especially in the regional variations concerning property rights, descent, capital and investments, path dependencies and patterns of successful female entrepreneurship. Two case studies try to differentiate between the noble entrepreneurs of Upper Silesia on the one hand and the bourgeois ones of the Ruhr Area on the other hand. Hence, I will try to illustrate that female entrepreneurs in the 18th and 19th centuries could take up entrepreneurial functions in the course of their development from both, noble or bourgeois, trade women to industrial principals. In arguing that female entrepreneurship was quite normal in the 18th and 19th centuries, I will go beyond entrepreneurial theories with their dichotomous gender scheme and will follow recent studies on female entrepreneurship.

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