A Wesleyan Work Ethic? Entrepreneurship and Weber's Protestant Work Ethic in the case of Isaac Holden, c. 1807-1897

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In recent years, business historians have started to become more interested in the relevance of Max Weber’s Protestant Work Ethic thesis. This article builds on this recent work by providing an in-depth case study of the career of the Wesleyan wool entrepreneur Isaac Holden (c. 1807–97) in order to assess and evaluate the usefulness of Weber’s work for our understanding of the ways in which religious beliefs can influence commercial decision-making. Ultimately, what it suggests is that, whilst Weber’s work offers a valuable starting point for business historians looking to explore the links between religion and business, there is a need for more consideration to be given not only to the theological differences that existed between different branches of Protestantism, but also the informal institutional pressures and constraints that influenced Protestant entrepreneurs in the past.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness History
Issue number7
Early online date17 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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