Business organizations and elites are often neglected in oral history as a result of the dominant assumption that elites have ample opportunity to be heard. We argue, however, that researching corporations and elites is very interesting for oral historians. This contention is supported by the four contributions that legitimize the use of oral history as formulated by Richard Crownshaw and Selma Leydesdorff. First, oral history research on organizations and elites is important for archival reasons as it helps to record information that would otherwise be lost. Second, we argue that the use of oral history for research on leadership and organizations is scientifically sound. Third, the democratic contributions of oral history provide misrepresented employees and leaders of organizations with a voice. This improves current narratives on corporate and elite history. Leaders in particular are vulnerable to not being treated democratically. They have the greatest chance of being written out of the history of an organization and as such “losing” a part of their life story. This so-called damnatio memoriae can be experienced as a traumatic event. The fourth contribution of oral history, its therapeutic usefulness, can be very beneficial in such a case.
Keulen, S., & Kroeze, R. (2012, December). Back to business: A next step in the field of oral history-the usefulness of oral history for leadership and organizational research. Oral History Review. https://doi.org/10.1093/ohr/ohs044