A tale of two asbestos giants: Corporate reports as (auto)biography



Publication Details

Moerman, L., van der Laan, S. & Campbell, D. (2013). A tale of two asbestos giants: Corporate reports as (auto)biography. Business History, 56 (6), 975-995.


Annual reports are situated artefacts which relate a longitudinal grand narrative or corporate (auto)biography. This paper explores the narrative reporting of two former asbestos manufacturers, Turner & Newall in the UK and James Hardie in Australia. Asbestos features prominently in the industrial expansion and decline of both companies as the toxic health effects of this 'magic mineral' became evident over time. This paper finds evidence of several distinct phases of reporting of asbestos, from reporting it as a source of unmitigated value, to a source of risk and finally as a threat to corporate viability. Each stage erased or re-situated the prior story of asbestos so that users of individual annual reports may be unaware of the grand narrative of asbestos in its transformation from 'magic mineral to killer dust'.

Please refer to publisher version or contact your library.



Link to publisher version (DOI)