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First World Congress of Business History / 20th Congress of the European Business History Association

History of the initiative

The initiative was hammered out in several steps. The most important are listed in the following:

2011 at the EBHA-Congress in Athens representatives of the Councils of BHSJ and EBHA agreed to discuss the issue within their organizations. The outcome was positive.

2012 at the joint Congress of BHSJ and EBHA in Paris representatives from both organizations met with important colleagues from other regions of the World (Latin America, USA, South Korea, Australia, and South Africa) to discuss the suggestion. In the beginning all presented the situation of business history in their regions, and it became quite clear, that all participants were strongly in favor of organizing a World Congress on Business History. Their desire to act made them the WCBH initiative group. The mood in the group was not a wish of “good luck”, but all were convinced not only about the desirability but of a substantial demand for such an event.

Consequently concrete suggestions were accepted: A first and limited World Conference (no parallel sessions) on Business History of one day should be organized in mid-March 2014. In order not to cause inconveniencies it should be carried out in conjunction with the BHC-congress 13-15 March 2014 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The two events should not be merged into one but held one after another.

A fully blown World Congress on Business History will be organized in August 2016 in Bergen, Norway. (Since in 2015 the World Economic History Congress will take place in Kyoto.)

The initiative group on the WCBH set up an executive group to do the necessary work.

Since the one-day World Conference on Business History in Frankfurt in March 2014 turned out to be a full success, it was decided in a special meeting with representatives from the whole World to proceed with the plans of a congress in Bergen in 2016. An offer of BHC to organize the facilities for a meeting of the initiative group after the joint congress of BHC and EBHA in Miami in June 2015 was gladly accepted.

In short: Preparatory steps towards a World Congress on Business History

In Milan 2009: at the joint Congress of BHC and EBHA closer contact with Japanese delegation.

In Glasgow 2010: conversation with President Abe if a WBHC is desirable – to be evaluated in the councils of BHSJ and EBHA.

In Athens 2011: agreement of councils of BHSJ and EBHA. In both organizations preparatory steps / discussion on the issue of a WCBH.

After Athens: Mails on the issue to distinguished international colleagues on all continents to ask about their thoughts concerning the idea – overwhelming support.    Inquiry if University of Bergen would support such a congress.

In Paris 2012: one-day meeting on the issue with participants from Japan, Australia, USA, Africa, Latin America and Europe. Decision to organize a World congress, but no possibility before 2016, because of WEHC in Kyoto 2015. Offer of University of Bergen to host congress was appreciated. In order to keep the issue going one-days conference in Frankfurt. Considered also as a test-case.

December 2012: Call for papers of Frankfurt conference “State of the art in World Business History”.

In Frankfurt 2014: World Conference on Business History with 180 participants from all over the World (after the joint Congress of BHC and German organization of Business History, GUG in March). Meeting of representatives from BHC, BHSJ, EBHA and others to discuss the issue. Organization of a Committee of the first WCBH (Members: Abe, Takeshi, Japan (representative of BHSJ); Dávila Carlos, Colombia; Godley, Andrew, UK; Fernandez, I Paloma, Spain (representative of EBHA); Lluch, Andrea, Argentina; Mihm, Stephen, USA (representative of BHC) ; Mowat, Simon, New Zealand; Schneider, Andrea, Germany (representative EBHA); Schröter, Harm, Norway; Verhoef, Grietjie, South Africa (representative of the International Economic History Association)

In Miami 2015: On invitation of BHC meeting of the Committee of the first WCBH (created in Frankfurt) at the joint Congress of BHC and EBHA in June 2014