BHC annual conference goes virtual

Business History: Building for the Future

Annual Meeting of the Business History Conference

Virtual meeting

March 11-13, 2021

Proposals due November 14, 2020

The originally agreed theme of ‘The Ubiquity of Business’ has been dropped. Instead, a new theme ‘Business History: Building for the Future’ has been developed. This year’s BHC annual meeting will be unlike any previous annual meeting as it will be a virtual one. It is hoped that this is only a temporary interlude from the standard get-togethers which we all value so much. However, it also provides an opportunity to be innovative. Four principles underpin our hopes for the annual meeting:

  1. To assist graduate students and emerging scholars as a priority.
  2. To make the conference as interactive as possible.
  3. To regard the meeting as an opportunity to be experimental and radical.
  4. To be as inclusive as is possible.

To achieve these goals the Program Committee have agreed the following in relaunching the call for papers for the 2021 BHC annual meeting.

  • The Program Committee will accept proposals for individual papers, whole sessions, e-posters, podcasts, videos, slide shows, roundtables and methodological workshop sessions.
    • The main aim of the theme is to support graduate students and emerging scholars in the field of business history to develop their careers in these difficult times and where the academic job market is going to be extremely uncertain for some time to come.
    • The focus of activities will be to help graduate students and emerging scholars to participate and showcase their research as well as providing opportunities for mentoring by established scholars in the field.
    • Innovative, more experimental and radical session proposals which promote discussion about business history are particularly encouraged and the Program Committee are open to being approached to discuss such proposals prior to the submission deadline.
    • More established scholars are encouraged to submit proposals which might benefit graduate students and emerging scholars, for example methodological discussions or broad-themed roundtables.
    • To maximise the opportunities for two-way interaction speaker time will be more limited than usual with an emphasis on discussion. Proposals for mini-plenaries and roundtables are particularly welcomed.
    • The conference will be less intensive than usual, with activities spread across the day to allow greater engagement from around the world and to avoid Zoom fatigue.
    • This does mean that there will be significantly fewer opportunities to present work in the traditional format.
  • To address this, we aim to offer an opportunity for all participants in the annual meeting to showcase their research via a virtual exhibition.
    • The BHC Doctoral Colloquium will take place, but not in conjunction with the virtual annual meeting. It will probably occur later in the spring.
    • Similarly, it is envisaged that the usual pre-conference workshops will take place virtually at another time in the year, yet to be decided. However, we are keen to incorporate methodological sessions into the annual meeting program.

To facilitate participation in the 2021 meeting, the BHC Trustees have voted to provide Alfred Chandler Fund grants to cover registration costs for BHC members presenting papers who are graduate students or emerging scholars, the latter defined as within three years of receipt of their PhD degree. Usually Chandler grants cover travel costs to participate in the annual meeting. BHC membership fees are $30 for graduate students and $40 for emerging scholars.

The program committee will be chaired by Lucy Newton (University of Reading) and includes Paula de la Cruz Fernández (University of Florida), Marina Moskowitz (University of Wisconsin – Madison), Susie Pak (St. John’s University), Dan Wadhwani (University of Southern California and Copenhagen Business School), along with BHC President Neil Rollings (University of Glasgow). Victoria Barnes (Max Planck Institute for European Legal History) has been added to the committee as a representative of the Emerging Scholars Committee. To discuss a possible alternative style of paper or session proposal contact Neil Rollings ( or Lucy Newton ( in the first instance. We would also encourage people to use the BHC “session organizer,” where organizers may send in their panel interests and solicit colleagues to join them. Organizers can also indicate through a post to H-Business that they are trying to organize a BHC panel proposal around a given theme.

Proposals may be submitted for individual papers or for entire sessions. Each presentation proposal should include a one-page (300 word) abstract and one-page curriculum vitae (CV) for each participant. Session proposals (unless a roundtable) should include a maximum of four individual presentations. All session proposals should have a cover letter containing a title, a one-paragraph session description, and the names and affiliations of a recruited chair, as well as the contact information for the session organizer. To submit a proposal go

to and click on the link instructions.

The deadline for receipt of all paper and panel proposals is November 14, 2020. Acceptance letters will be sent by December 15, 2020. Everyone appearing on the program must register for the meeting.

The K. Austin Kerr Prize will be awarded for the best first paper delivered by a new scholar at the annual meeting. A “new scholar” is defined as a doctoral candidate or a Ph.D. whose degree is less than three years old. You must nominate your paper for this prize on the proposal submission page where indicated. Please check the appropriate box if your proposal qualifies for inclusion in the Kerr Prize competition.

The BHC awards the Herman E. Krooss Prize for the best English-language dissertation in business history by a recent Ph.D. in history, economics, business administration, the history of science and technology, sociology, law, communications, and related fields. To be eligible,

dissertations must be completed in the three calendar years immediately prior to the 2021 annual meeting and may only be submitted once for the Krooss prize. After the Krooss committee has reviewed the proposals, it will ask semi-finalists to submit copies of their dissertations. Finalists will present summaries of their dissertations at a plenary session and will receive a partial subsidy of their travel costs to the meeting. Proposals accepted for the Krooss Prize are not eligible for the Kerr Prize. If you wish to apply for this prize, submit a cover letter, dissertation abstract, and author’s c.v., using this

form: The deadline for proposals for the Krooss prize is November 14, 2020.

The Martha Moore Trescott Prize is awarded to the best paper at the intersection of business history and the history of technology presented at the annual meeting of the Business History Conference. The prize will be awarded on the basis of the written version of a paper to be presented at the annual meeting. Those wishing to be considered for the prize must indicate so at the time of submitting their original proposal for the meeting. Self-nominating scholars must also provide the written paper to the Chair of the committee not less than one month before the annual meeting. Though the prize will be awarded on the basis of the written paper, candidates must register for the meeting and present their work. Scholars who are eligible for the Kerr Prize may also enter the Trescott Prize. There are no other restrictions on eligibility. Written papers should be no longer than 4,000 words (exclusive of notes, bibliography, appendices, figures and illustrations). The deadline for receipt of all paper and panel proposals is November 14, 2020.

As a result of the digital reconfiguration of the BHC annual meeting, the 2021 BHC Doctoral Colloquium in Business History will be held later in spring 2021. This prestigious workshop, funded by Cambridge University Press, will most likely also take place on a remote basis, over two days in either late May or early June. We may spread the sessions out even more this year, given the likely need for digital interaction. Typically limited to ten students, the colloquium is open to early stage doctoral candidates pursuing dissertation research within the broad field of business history, from any relevant discipline. Topics

(see for past examples) may range from the early modern era to the present and explore societies across the globe. Participants work intensively with a distinguished group of BHC-affiliated scholars (including at least two BHC officers), discussing dissertation proposals, relevant literatures and research strategies, and career trajectories. Typically, participants receive partial stipends to defray the costs of travel to the annual meeting. For 2021 participants, BHC will provide a partial stipend to defray travel costs to the next in-person annual meeting. The application cycle will be later than usual this year, with applications due by 15 January 2021 via email

to and should include: a statement of interest; CV; preliminary or final dissertation prospectus (10-15 pages); and a letter of support from your dissertation supervisor (or prospective supervisor). Questions about the colloquium should be sent to its director, Edward Balleisen, Applicants will receive notification of the selection committee’s decisions by 15 February 2021.