Research Interests: U.S. intellectual history; history of twentieth-century capitalism; history of management science.
Erik Baker studies the history of scientific and cultural ideas about work and workers, primarily in the twentieth-century United States. His dissertation, Chasing Entrepreneurship: Meaningful Work and the Sciences of Labor Discipline, 1890-1990, traces the history of the concept of “entrepreneurship” and the consequences of efforts to promote entrepreneurship in the twentieth-century U.S. The project situates the project of “entrepreneurship” as a response to fears that American capitalism was undermining itself by producing an alienated and organized working class. Entrepreneurship promised to mitigate worker militancy by restoring autonomy and creativity in work. The reality was more ambiguous.
“The New Conservatism: Peter Drucker Discovers Entrepreneurship,” Business History Conference Annual Meeting (Charlotte, NC), March 14, 2020.
“Access to Tools: Stewart Brand and the Countercultural Work Ethic,” Lost Alternatives of the Long 1960s: Reflections on the Ideas of the “Counterculture,” workshop (Princeton University, Princeton, NJ), September 28, 2019
“The Other Neoliberals: Joseph Schumpeter and U.S. Social Science in the Early Twentieth Century,” 51st Annual Meeting of Cheiron: International Society for the History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences (McEwan University, Edmonton AB, CA), June 21, 2019