Vintage sepia-style image of people working in a factory

Business and Labour History Group

Exploring the business of the past
We promote and facilitate research and teaching about organisational and occupational histories.

About us

We promote historical research and teaching within the University of Sydney Business School. We organise seminars and conferences on historical themes in the areas of accounting history, business history, economic history and labour history. We are the home for Academic Association of Historians in Australian and New Zealand Business Schools (AAHANZBS). Membership inquiries should be directed to

The group receives funding from the University of Sydney Business School and funding for specific projects from organisations that have included Citigroup and Westfund. We also manage the Burren Street archives, which houses material of interest to accounting historians, business historians and labour historians.

Our research

We run research projects funded by business and labour organisations on a variety of themes, and we welcome industry proposals for projects relating to organisational and occupational histories.

Investigators: Dr Sebastian Boell, Professor Kai Riemer, Dr Sandra Peter

In collaboration with the Pearcey Foundation the project interviews recipients admitted into the Pearcey Hall of Fame from 2003 to 2020. The hall of fame recognizes outstanding life-time contribution to ICT in Australia in business, research, and government. Collectively these interviews hold important insights on aspects that had a lasting effect on ICT innovations in Australia, positive as well as negative from approximately the 1960s to the 2010s.

Investigator: Honorary Associate Professor Jim Kitay

Exploring the changing role of nurses in NSW workplaces from the early 1900s to the early 2000s. This project examines the social, organisational and legislative context in which occupational health nurses worked, and the distinctive associations and educational arrangements they developed.

Investigators: Professor Greg PatmoreMark Westcott

Exploring the origins and growth of regional health insurance fund Westfund. Examining the business model of a mutual and the impact of a range of factors on the fund's development, including the local community and federal government health policy.

Investigator: Professor Greg Patmore

Using comparative historical data to provide a clear direction for public policy in the development of frontier technology for employment relations infrastructure. This infrastructure would maximise workplace productivity, increase job satisfaction and provide a greater voice for employees in the workplace.

Investigators: Professor Greg Patmore, Professor John Shields

Recording the early history of Citibank in Australia, especially prior to the group obtaining its banking licence in 1986. Through interviews and documents, exploring the long process for Citibank to obtain its licence before it could function as a full bank in the Australia.

Investigators: Dr Sebastian Boell, Dr Jenny Leonard

This oral history captures the memories of those who were responsible and affected by changes in early information and communication technologies (ICT) in Australia. ICT include mainframes, minicomputers, and early personal computers (PC). We capture accounts from programmers, consultants, managers and users.

Our people

Meet our academics, members and researchers.


Emeritus Professor Greg Patmore


Dr Sebastian Boell

Dr Mark Westcott

Assistant Directors

Associate Professor Teresa Davis

Professor Emerita Corinne Mulley

Professor John Shields

Barbara Ainsworth, Monash Museum of Computing History

Nikola Balnave, Macquarie University

Florian Hoof, Leuphana University Lüneburg

Sanford Jacoby, UCLA

Geoff Jones, Harvard University

Julie Kimber, Swinburne University of Technology

Simon Mollan, University of York, UK

Andrew Moore, Western Sydney University

Elisabetta Mori, Middlesex University, UK

Simon Mowatt, Auckland University of Technology, NZ

Melanie Oppenheimer, Flinders University

Riley Perry, Australian Computer Museum Society

Michael Rowlinson, University of Exeter, UK

Peter Sheldon, University of NSW

Lucy Taksa, Macquarie University

Peter Thorne, Pearcey Foundation

Janet Toland, Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington

Claire Wright, University of Technology Sydney

Lance Wright

Our seminars

Explore our events, past and present.

Battle for the boot: Trademarks and competitiveness in the global Ugg Boot industry, 1984-2017
Book launch and seminar: 'Frontiers of labour: Comparative histories of the US and Australia'
  • 21 June 2018
  • Presenter: Professor Stephen Garton, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost
Labour of love? Working conditions in aged care and faith organisations
  • 13 April 2018
  • Presenter: Dr Ron Ringer
Angels of efficiency: A media history of consulting
  • 23 February 2018
  • Presenter: Dr Florian Hoof, Leuphana University, Germany
Testing the market: The Ashby Research Service and Australia's media industry

In 1936 Sylvia Ashby opened the first independently owned market research firm in Australia. By examining the surveys and correspondence held in the archives of the Ashby Research Service, this paper provides an overview of market research and its growing impact on Australia’s media industry and its operations.

Academic Association of Historians in Australian and New Zealand Business Schools 9th Annual Conference: Why History?
  • 9 to 10 November 2017, The University of Sydney Business School
  • Plenary speaker: Professor Chris Howell, Oberlin College, Ohio, US
The more things change, the more they stay the same: An organisational history of NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption

NSW ICAC has been in existence since 1988, the result of an electoral promise to provide clean and efficient government in NSW. This paper is an historical examination of ICAC’s work and government responses over the previous 29 years of ICAC’s operations.


Professor Greg Patmore
Emeritus Professor Greg Patmore
Academic profile