Caitlin Rosenthal completed her doctorate in Harvard's program on the History of American Civilization in May 2012, and in 2012-2013 she will be the Newcomen Fellow in Business History at Harvard Business School. Her current book project, From Slavery to Scientific Management: Accounting for Control in Antebellum America explores the transformation of numerical thinking during the the 18th and 19th centuries, focusing specifically on how quantitative analysis changed management practices. The traditional story of modern management begins in the factories of England and New England, extending only much later to the American South. From Slavery to Scientific Management argues that many sophisticated techniques developed first on southern and West Indian slave plantations, disseminating among elite planters many decades before they were adopted in northern factories. These advances were not just incidental to the system of chattel slavery. Rather, innovation was, in a sense, a byproduct of bondage. The control of masters over their slaves facilitated the development of management "controls." These findings disrupt prevailing narratives in business history, raising fundamental ethical and historical questions about the foundations of modern management.
As an economic historian and a historian of capitalism, she aspires to blend the best of qualitative and quantitative research, bringing together insights from history and economics. She is passionate about interdisciplinary research, and about bridging the divide between business history and labor history. At Harvard, Caitlin also directed the activities of the Program on the Study of Capitalism with faculty chairs Sven Beckert and Christine Desan. As part of the program she organized numerous conferences, prepared reports and grant applications, and helped launch a new website to unite the various activities of the workshop. Before graduate school, Caitlin worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Company, an experience that spurred her interest in the history of work, labor, and corporate responsibility. Caitlin's other research projects range from the sale of art to the development of academic tenure. She also enjoys painting, hiking, cooking, and making bad jokes.