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About EHFF

A background sketch

The Institute for Economic and Business History Research (EHFF) at the Stockholm School of Economics is dedicated to carrying out and supporting research in economics, history and sociology with special emphasis on the Swedish economy and its importance for the development of the entire society. It thus continues the work previously pursued within the division for Business and Economic History within the Institute for Economic History Research (EHF) and, earlier, within the Economic History Institute.

The Economic History Institute was created in 1929 as a joint research institute in the Stockholm School of Economics and, what was then called, Stockholm University College. The initiative came from Professor Eli F. Heckscher, who that same year was appointed to a personal research professorship in economic history at the Stockholm School of Economics. He remained the motive force behind the Institute until his death in 1952. The intent was to carry on research on “the history of individual business firms” utilizing a multi-disciplinary approach that combined economic history, economics and business history.

Eventually in 1976, a lack of interest on the part of what was now Stockholm University, and on the initiative of Professor Erik Dahmén and the archivist of Stockholms Enskilda Bank, Gert Nylander, the Institute was re-configured. The new organization was re-baptized the Institute for Economic History Research (EHF). The two founders visualized the new Institute as a bridge builder between various levels and fields of theory. In their argumentation for the re-organization, one of the proposals put forward was that the work on biographies and corporate histories at the new Institute would be placed on a scholarly foundation and be incorporated “into a somewhat wider industrial-historical context”. The intent clearly was to endow these efforts with scholarly legitimacy. As examples, they pointed to two on-going projects, one a biographical study of André Oscar Wallenberg and his era in Swedish economic and political life, and the other a monograph on the post-1914 history of Stockholms Enskilda Bank.

The Board of the new Institute consisted of Professor Karl-Gustav Hildebrand of Uppsala University, Professor Torsten Gårdlund of Lund University and Per Hanner, Adjunct Professor at the Stockholm School of Economics.

The financial basis for the Institute’s activities was transformed by the establishment of the Jacob Wallenberg Memorial Foundation in 1981. A research position in economics, with special emphasis on the development of the Swedish economy and economic policy, was attached to the Institute for Economic History Research. When this post was created, the administration stated its intention that it could be converted into a professorship after it had been occupied for one or two three-year terms. Such steps were taken, both in 1990 and in 2001, when Johan Myhrman and Magnus Henrekson respectively were promoted to the rank of professor.

The purpose of the Memorial Foundation, as well as and the new research position, was to endow the EHF with permanent resources for research. The position was given a multi-disciplinary character. It was designed to serve the entire Stockholm School of Economics, not just some particular department or division of the School. This intention is clearly expressed in the job description: it was to be an appointment in economic studies, not specifically limited to traditional economic theory, business economics or economic history. Applications from holders of a doctorate in any of the three disciplines were welcome. The goal was for the position to stimulate research in the border area among the three economic fields.

Further resources became available to the Institute in 1988 when the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation granted funds to support a professorship in economic history associated with the Institute for a period of five years. The first holder of the chair was Ulf Olson, who in 1995 was succeeded by Håkan Lindgren. The financial support from the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation was successively extended, until July 1, 2000 when, in accordance with a previous agreement, the financing of the professorship was shifted to the School’s annual budget.

The research pursued at the EHF has, since 1976, to a large degree been directed towards business history. More than 30 major projects were undertaken between 1976 and 2006. The results of these efforts have appeared as part of a special series of publications, > Publications. Of these, five are biographies of individuals, five can be characterized as branch studies and 15 classified as corporate monographs.

In November 2006, the Board decided that the assets of the Institute would be transferred to a separate entity, The Institute for Economic and Business History Research (EHFF), which would continue to build on the existing Institute’s traditions. The Arrangement was approved by the Administration of the Stockholm School of Economics, and the EHFF came into being on March 1 of 2007. The task of supervising its activities was assigned to Director Per Lundberg and Professors Ulf Olsson and Håkan Lindgren. The remaining administrative and on-going research-project funds were transferred to the new Institute on July 1, 2007.