Call for Papers 2020

Collaboration in Business and Business History

Annual Meeting of the Business History Conference
Charlotte Marriott City Center
Charlotte, North Carolina
March 12-14, 2020

Proposals due October 1, 2019

Submit a Paper/Panel Proposal

Capitalist mythology continues to stress charismatic entrepreneurs and the value of incentive structures that reward individual merit.  But much recent scholarship has shown that business environments have always depended heavily on social networks and modes of cooperation, whether in the early modern world, amid industrialization, or during the recent decades of globalization.  Cooperative impulses suffused the efforts to coordinate behavior across commercial empires, within the modern corporation, among workers in a given industry, and inside the state-owned monopoly; such impulses have always animated the joint endeavors of guilds, urban boosters, rural agricultural reformers, trade associations, industry pressure groups, chaebol, self-regulatory organizations, and cartels.   In many contexts, of course, cooperation has prompted stinging social and political critique, whether as coziness with imperial or authoritarian governments, anti-competitive price fixing, corrupt cronyism, or class-based strangleholds on democratic politics.

Despite the salience of collaboration as a theme in business history, the field continues to be characterized by individualistic research practices.  Historical works that focus on enterprise are mostly sole-authored works.  Although two historians sometimes collaborate on a research project, larger teams remain rare, outside the context of building archival collections (whether manuscript or digital); so too do undertakings that bring business historians together with scholars from other disciplines, whether from the other social sciences or the fast-growing domain of data analytics.

For the 2020 annual meeting of the Business History Conference, we welcome proposals that examine:

·       the evolution of cooperative dynamics in specific enterprises and industries, or within the wider business environment, from any period, society, or region;

·       the social, cultural, political, legal, and policy responses to cooperation in the business realm, again without limitation to era or geography; and especially

·       the challenges and opportunities presented by undertakings in business history that pull together larger teams, including those that incorporate participants with other disciplinary backgrounds and integrate research and education.

The program committee will be chaired by Benjamin Waterhouse (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), and includes Fahad Bishara (University of Virginia), Xavier Duran (Universidad de Los Andes, Bogota), Christina Lubinski (Copenhagen Business School), and Alexia Yates (University of Manchester), along with BHC President Edward J. Balleisen (Duke University).  While we encourage proposals to take up these themes, papers addressing all other topics in business history will receive equal consideration by the program committee, in accordance with BHC policy. Proposals may be submitted for individual papers or for entire panels. Each proposal should include a one-page (300 word) abstract and one-page curriculum vitae (CV) for each participant. Panel proposals should have a cover letter containing a title, a one-paragraph panel description, and recruited chair and commentator, with contact information for the panel organizer. To submit a proposal go and click on the link Submit a Paper/Panel Proposal.

All sessions take place at the Charlotte Marriott City Center. Rooms are $170/ night single or double occupancy.

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 deadline for receipt of all proposals is 1 October 2019. Acceptance letters will be sent by 31 December 2019. Everyone appearing on the program must register for the meeting. Graduate students and recent PhDs (within 3 years of receipt of degree) whose papers are accepted for the meeting may apply for funds to partially defray their travel costs; information will be sent out once the program has been set.

The BHC awards the Herman E. Krooss Prize for the best 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 2020 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 of the 2020 BHC annual meeting 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 1 October 2019.

The BHC Doctoral Colloquium in Business History will be held in conjunction with the BHC annual meeting. This prestigious workshop, funded by Cambridge University Press, will take place in Charlotte Wednesday March 11 and Thursday March 12. 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 link 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.  Applications are due by 15 November 2019 via email to 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, All participants receive a stipend that partially defrays travel costs to the annual meeting.  Applicants will receive notification of the selection committee’s decisions by 20 December 2019.

General questions regarding the BHC’s 2012 annual meeting may be sent to Secretary-Treasurer Andrew Popp,