Program of the The 4th Workshop on Business History in Central and Eastern Europe

The 4th Workshop on Business History in Central and Eastern Europe

supported by

European Business History Association (EBHA)

Firms, Wars, and Ethics in the Business History of

Central and Eastern Europe and Russia

Place: Venice School of Management, Università Ca' Foscari, Venice

Date: October 21-22, 2022


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The workshop will particularly draw on historical research on the two World Wars and their aftermaths to provide tentative answers to several questions evoked by the Russia-Ukraine war of 2022. The aim is to explore the relationship between business and geopolitics from a long-term historical perspective focusing on the economic and social consequences of the war, including (de)globalization processes.

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, causing thousands of deaths among civilians, colossal damage in the infrastructure, and forcing over 10 million people to leave their homes. In response, democratic states have demonstrated unprecedented unity and imposed extensive economic sanctions on Russia. The combination of military conflict, economic warfare, and humanitarian crisis has had an enormous impact on the economic environment, including the disruption of global supply chains, commodity price shock, increased market volatility, and making the world’s economic development, already hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, even more unpredictable.

As a result, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has affected both the multinational companies as well as the domestic firms operating in Central-Eastern Europe. Within just a few weeks, companies running in CEE faced challenges rarely dealt with at business schools. Companies face ethical dilemmas and feel strong pressure from their shareholders and stakeholders, forcing them to make decisions that go well beyond usual business thinking and strategizing. Thousands of companies have decided to divest, withdraw, or scale down their operations in Russia. In contrast, others justify their decision to stay with their responsibility towards their employees in Russia and their unwillingness to deprive Russia’s population of essential goods such as food and medical supplies.

The events unfolding in the last months in Ukraine and CEE have presented business historians with serious questions concerning:

  • The role of business in military conflicts and post-war development.
  • Business ethics vs. unethical corporate behavior.
  • Corporate lessons from uncomfortable pasts.

Organizers: Valentina Fava and Giovanni Favero (Venice School of Management, Università Ca' Foscari, Venice) in cooperation with Ulf Brunnbauer (Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS), Regensburg), Alfred Reckendrees (Copenhagen Business School), Tomasz Olejniczak (Kozminski University, Warsaw), Volodymyr Kulikov (The Ukrainian Catholic University/UT at Austin).