• Methodology


      Intensive archival-based investigation in four languages


    Research for this project involves intensive archival-based investigation in four counties and four languages. Drawing on archival material from archives in Venice (Archivio di Stato di Venezia; Bibliotecca Nazionale Marciana; Museo Civico Correr; Fondazione Giorgio Cini), Rome (Archivio Segreto Vaticano), London (National Archives; the National Maritime Museum), Valladoid (Archivio General di Simancas), and Washington DC (Library of Congress), the project provides a balanced, intelligible and situated analysis of pre-industrial organisational life

    Methodologically, this study aims to retain the epistemological status of historical events by interpreting primary material through sociological and organisational theories. For this reason, it employs a fresh transdisciplinary approach which combines the narrative construction of established theoretical constructs stemming from organisation theory, such as organisational image, organisational identity, and organisational secrecy, with the rich description of historical context, as it emerges from the critical examination of an exhaustive body of archival sources, supplemented by relevant secondary literature.
    Employing this transdisciplinary perspective, the study moves beyond the conventional, overly-empiricist narrative approaches to organisational history, while discarding the overly-technicist and abstract discussions of organisational theories that favour methodological rigour at the expense of narrative richness.

    The key questions the project seeks to answer are:

    • How do we define pre-modern intelligence and how did it manifest itself?
    • What was its role in state formation, commercial competition, and the rise of capitalism?
    • What role did intelligence organisation play on the state’s security and prosperity?
    • What role did the economy and society play in the evolution of systemised intelligence?