Business and Labour History Group

About this groupLabour history group

Led by Associate Professor Simon Mowatt, the Business and Labour History Group highlights the contribution of historical studies and labour studies to critical scholarship and contemporary policy. The Business and Labour History Group has five main approaches to business and labour history:

  • Historical case studies of organisational development and innovation, including studies of technological and industrial change.
  • Labour history concerning employment relations, working class culture, trade unions, non-union employee representation, political parties of labour and international comparative studies in all of these areas.
  • Historical analysis of public policy development in employment relations, labour law, occupational health and safety, gender and diversity.
  • Historical research in economics, employment relations, labour law, occupational health and safety, marketing, management, accountancy, finance and other business-based disciplines.
  • The development of historical perspectives of long-term trends in business practices and ideology, including patterns of work and organisation and labour relations, as a contribution to understanding where we are today, and why.


Simon Mowatt (Lead Researcher)Ann-Marie Kennedy Carol Neill
David Williamson Edwina PioErling Rasmussen
Felicity LammFiona HurdGeoffrey Brooke
Gina XuJulie DouglasKate Nicholls
Keri MillsLisa NguyenPaul Moon
Paul WoodfieldPeter GilderdalePeter Skilling
Rob Allen  

Current research

  • The Causes of Modern Economic Growth

Description: This project entails conducting a survey of the approaches taken by economic historians to explaining the causes of modern economic growth. The project has several facts including building a real-wage series for New Zealand for the periods from 1840 to 1914. A working paper has looked at the gradual emergence of monetary policy in New Zealand.

Download working paper 2018/09

Team: Geoffrey Brooke, Antony Endres (UoA) and Alan Rogers (UoA).

  • Public Health Conditions in the Late Nineteenth Century

Description: Statistics concerning soldiers measurements are used as indicative data to understand standards of living. This project takes a new approach to examine the data and draws new conclusions about conditions towards the end of the nineteenth century. An empirical investigation has been conducted to examine body sizes of New Zealand soldiers who served in the Second Boer war.

Download empirical investigation (working paper 2019/05)

Team: Geoffrey Brooke and Lydia Cheung.

  • Labour in Historical Context

Description: This collaborative project with other NZ Work Research groups explores the historical roots and implications of changing labour practices.

Team: Fiona Hurd, David Williamson, Erling Rasmussen, Simon Mowatt and Howard Cox (University of Worcester, UK).