Research on power elites and corporations

Markku Kuisma’s academic research has focused on the creation of power and business elites, as well as the role of long-term social changes. This research orientation began in 1998 with a project funded by the Academy of Finland, Elites and Social Change: Family Strategies and Networks of Power 1500–2000, and it continued with the project Business Elite. Roots and Roles in Modern Society: The Finnish case in the European context 1750–2000.

These projects were characterised by well-established approaches and the crossing and merging of disciplinary borders. There was also a general application of biographical methods.

There was a considerable investment made in the doctoral school and international training. Twelve dissertations came out of the groups associated with Elite Project, the first of which was Mirkka Lappalainen’s research on the Creutz business dynasty, Family, power, superpower.

The increase in biographical research also allowed for projects led by Kuisma which surveyed the Paloheimo and Serlachius business families. From the latter project came two acclaimed biographies of industrialists: Teemu Keskisarja’s book Vihreän kullan kirous (‘The curse of green gold’) and Oula Silvennoinen’s Paperisydän (‘Paper heart’).

Markku Kuisma’s own work mainly deals with the core sectors of modern capitalism: the mining, forestry and oil industries, as well as commercial banking institutions. He has also analysed many companies earlier held to be national institutions, such as the Finnish commercial bank Kansallis-Osakepankki, the oil company Neste and the steel conglomerate Outokumpu.

Kuisma’s book Metsäteollisuuden maa: Suomi, metsät ja kansainvälinen järjestelmä (‘The land of the forest industry: Finland, forests and the international order’) describes Finland’s economic and political development as part of Europe and the world economy.

Capitalism and society, and how they’re related

Markku Kuisma is part of a research group called Capitalism, State & Society, which is investigating the relationship between capitalism and society.

One of the projects the research group has been researching a history of Finland’s main daily newspaper, Päivälehti-Helsingin Sanomat 1889–2019, headed up by Kuisma since 2012. The project plots changes in the paper and its significance as a reflection of the dynamic between the country’s public face and its international relations. The long period under examination brings a variety of perspectives – journalistic, political, commercial and cultural, and points between.

Projects initiated by the Capitalism, State & Society research group.

Markku Kuisma’s previous research projects.