EBHA 2023 “The Relevance of Business History”

Annual conference

Oslo, Norway, June 22-24, 2023

Business history is a thriving field of research. As was noted already by Geoffrey Jones and Jonathan Zeitlin in their introduction to the Oxford Handbook of Business History, published back in 2007, the field of business history is “wide-ranging, dynamic and has generated compelling empirical data which sometimes confirms and sometime contests widely held views in management and the social sciences.” This is no less true today. Business historians hold important seats at prestigious universities and business school across the globe. Business history research is probably broader in scope than ever before and has also gained ground in the social sciences. Several large companies in many countries have found value and relevance in hiring professional business historians to write their history, trusting them both with a unique access to archives and the freedom to do independent research in line with basic principles for the writing of academic history.

The many strengths of business history as a field of research should no doubt be saluted. But there are also challenges looming in the near future. The organisers of the 2023 EBHA congress invites you to reflect on these challenges. It particularly invites critical reflection on business history’s relevance in relation to the broader field of history, to other academic disciplines, to business and society, and to students.

Business history seems to play a less important role in many history departments compared to most other subfields of history. One way to look at this challenge is to humbly ask other historians to better integrate business in the broader field of history. Another way is perhaps to integrate broader strains of history within business history, to assume a more ambitious role.

Business history has in recent years been increasingly more integrated into other academic disciplines, such as organisation and management studies, strategy, international business, and entrepreneurship studies. However, this integration has not been unproblematic. One question for further exploration is how these disciplines have understood and integrated methods and conceptual frameworks from business history. Another challenge is to make sure that business history not simply becomes a support discipline for various strands of the social sciences.

A third challenge relates to the fact that many business historians work in business schools and must teach traditional business school subjects such as management or strategy. How can the value and usefulness of teaching proper business history to business school students, be more efficiently and successfully communicated?

Becoming accepted as a valuable academic discipline might come at the expense of another important challenge faced by business historians; namely the need to increase the relevance of the field in society. This raises the question: how do business historians frame and convey their findings to convince business practitioners and society at large about their practical relevance?

On this basis, the organizers of the European Business History Association’s 2023 congress challenge you to reflect on how the future relevance of business history can and should be developed. We encourage papers, panels sessions and roundtable discussions dealing with the challenges facing the field of business history in terms of its academic, societal, and educational relevance.

Papers with other foci will of course be considered as well. Topics such as responsible business, sustainability, risk, innovation, entrepreneurship, economic growth, taxation, and similar ideas are more than welcome. In addition to proposals for individual papers, scholars can send full panel sessions, which will create more coherence within the conference program. For panels, we strongly recommend integrating a variety of comparative national, regional, or sectoral differences.

EBHA awards a prize for the best paper on European business history presented at its annual congress. The prize consists of a certificate and a cash prize of €250.00. The winner will be announced, and the prize presented at the congress dinner. More details will be specified at the congress website.

Online submission will open November 1, 2022, through January 30, 2023. Please see below the requirements for paper and panel proposals.

We also invite other formats such as workshops, debates, discussions, and poster presentations. Journals can also propose fast-track session. Please send your proposals directly to the organizers (ebha2023@bi.no.)

We are very much looking forward to meeting you in Oslo, Norway, at the EBHA 2023 Congress.

The EBHA 2023 Congress Organizing Committee

For information on how to submit see: https://www.bi.edu/about-bi/events/2023/june/ebha2023/call-for-papers/