Competing in a Changing World: A Comparison Between DSM and Solvay in the Chemical Industry, 1970-2010.



Ernst Homburg is professor of History of Science and Technology at the University of Maastricht. After his chemistry studies in Amsterdam, he graduated in history at the University of Nijmegen with a dissertation on the rise of the German chemical profession, 1790-1850. He was one of the editors of two book series on the History of Technology in the Netherlands in the 19th resp. the 20th century, and one of the chemistry editors of the 8-volume New Dictionary of Scientific Biography (Thomson Gale, 2007). His most recent books are on the history of one of the largest European fertiliser companies: Groeien door kunstmest: DSM Agro 1929-2004 (Hilversum: Verloren 2004) and on Dutch chemistry after 1945: E. Homburg and L. Palm (eds.), De geschiedenis van de scheikunde in Nederland 3: De ontwikkeling van de chemie van 1945 tot het begin van de jaren tachtig (Delft: Delft University Press 2004). At present, together with Nicolas Coupain and Kenneth Bertrams, he is writing a book on the 150-years history of the Solvay company.

Arjan van Rooij (1974) studied Arts & Culture at Maastricht University, and specialised in the track Technological Culture. His research focuses on R&D and innovation processes; central themes are technology markets and transfer, knowledge infrastructure, and firm-level innovation processes. He extensively researched the Dutch chemical company DSM, leading to his dissertation in 2004 (focusing on external technology sourcing in the company’s fertiliser business) and his latest book (focusing on the history of the company’s R&D laboratory). Arjan’s most recent research focuses on business and innovation systems (with case studies from precision engineering, textiles and chemicals), and on the interaction between universities and industry (currently with a case study focusing on polymers)

The Business History Seminar is organised by the Business History Centre and has been made possible by financial support from the Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM) and the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication.