Dr Christopher McKenna

  • Global History of Capitalism
  • Professionals and White Collar Crime
  • Industrial and Corporate Technology

My research in on the global history of capitalism but starts with my training in the history of business and technology.  Having first worked on Wall Street and taught in a business school for many years, my research is generally informed by the pragmatic concerns of managers and long-run the strategy of institutions.  My eclecticism, channelled through business history, means that I have studied industrial accidents, management consultants, corporate ghost-writing, the historical transmission of managerial models, the development of the non-profit sector, and the bankruptcy of a leading newspaper among other topics. 

My current research is on the global history of white-collar crime, including industrial espionage by the French in textiles, Ivar Kreuger’s Ponzi scheme based in Sweden, the development of tax havens in the Caribbean, British counterfeiting in the 18th century, nepotism and co-mingling of funds in American universities, and the ascendance of cybercrime in the 21st century global economy.  My purpose is to show how successive institutional scandals led to the historical development of our system of corporate governance and the creation of new markets by professional firms.

I am also interested in pedagogical innovation, particularly embedding material culture, generally associated with museums, and (historical) case studies, generally associated with business schools, in the teaching of business and technological history.  To this end, I am editing a new textbook on the global history of capitalism that will bring together the skills of graduate students from the Said Business School and Oxford’s Humanities Division via the Global History of Capitalism project.  We intend to distribute these case studies online for the benefit of scholars and students around the world.





Featured Publication
Christopher D. McKenna, The World's Newest Profession: Management Consulting in the Twentieth Century

 Christopher D. McKenna, The World's Newest Profession: Management Consulting in the Twentieth Century (CUP, 2006)

In The World's Newest Profession Christopher McKenna offers a history of management consulting in the twentieth century. Although management consulting may not yet be a recognized profession, the leading consulting firms have been advising and reshaping the largest organizations in the world since the 1920s. This groundbreaking study details how the elite consulting firms, including McKinsey & Company and Booz Allen & Hamilton, expanded after US regulatory changes during the 1930s, how they changed giant corporations, nonprofits, and the state during the 1950s, and why consultants became so influential in the global economy after 1960. As they grew in number, consultants would introduce organizations to 'corporate culture' and 'decentralization' but they faced vilification for their role in the Enron crisis and for legitimating corporate blunders. Through detailed case studies based on unprecedented access to internal files and personal interviews, The World's Newest Profession explores how management consultants came to be so influential within our culture and explains exactly what consultants really do in the global economy.


DPhil Students

Francis Kim





Global Business History