[SIGCIS-Members] Urgent: Additional presenter needed for a BHC Frankfurt panel

Thomas Haigh thaigh at computer.org
Mon Sep 9 15:19:22 PDT 2013

Hello everyone,


You may remember the recent exchange of messages in response to my call for
people interested in the Business History Conference to send ideas. The
topics raised by Paul and Jim regarding the changing social role of IBM and
other computer companies have stirred considerable interest, even though
neither of them will be able to join us.


Where we stand right now is that we have five very qualified presenters
ready to talk about aspects of IBM’s changing relationship to ideas about
political economy/labor practices/social responsibility. That can and will
be spun into a story about the conference theme of “Virtues and Vices” in
that it relates directly to the construction of particular practices and
identities as virtuous, and others as vices. We have at two participants
interested in non-US parts of IBM, which gives a comparative perspective in
vice/virtue and also lets us frame nationalisms as a kind of virtue
(possibly becoming a vice in parts of post-war Europe).


Current potential participants are me, Steve Usselman, Andrew Meade McGee,
Petri Paju and Corinna Schlombs. Andrew Russell is available to comment.
Topics include IBM vs. fortunes vs. those of the US, IBM and European
nationalism, IBM’s role in constructing a new kind of American identity, and
computer company’s 1960s-80s attempts to update its social responsibility to
reflect new kinds of virtue around race, etc. Computer firms are clearly
adopting ideas from broader society, but I think we can argue that their
prominence and credibility as standard bearers for modernity gives them an
important role in shaping general attitudes and practices.


Five is a terrible number, because it’s too many for one panel and two few
for two. BHC panels should have three presenters, or at a push four. So we
need one more brave soul to come forward and work with us to get something
together quickly. There is scope to broaden a panel in various ways – firms
other than IBM, other kinds of vice and virtue than those mentioned above
(new conceptions of race, gender, shareholder value, etc.) and still
maintain coherence. Another person would mean two panels, so we could even
change the theme considerably for the second panel. For example, if someone
has a topic that fits we could have an entire panel focused on computer
companies and their responses to the social change of the late-60s and 70s.


So, anyone out there who can go to Frankfurt next March and has something
that could be made to fit? I would need to hear from you within 48 hours,
with a draft abstract shortly thereafter.






From: Thomas Haigh [mailto:thaigh at computer.org] 
Sent: Friday, August 30, 2013 3:14 PM
To: members at sigcis.org
Subject: BHC annual meeting CFP, deadline September 15th


Hello everyone,

Does anyone want to participate in a history of IT panel for the business
history conference? This is the rare occasion when it takes place in Europe
– specifically in Frankfurt. I’ve been away from business history for a few
years as activity has grown so much within SHOT, but my thoughts have
recently been returning to the area. Particularly as I prepared my keynote
address for this year’s Association of Business Historians meeting. We
organized a few SIGCIS sessions for earlier meetings, but nothing since 2008
or so.

There might be some scope to tie in with the conference theme, in exploring
ways in which IT has contributed to perceptions of business as being
good/bad. But most sessions at BHC don’t have much to do with the theme, so
that is optional.

As always, all grad students whose work could plausibly be stretched into
being a contribution to business history are encouraged to apply to the
“Oxford Journals Doctoral Colloquium in Business History.” It’s a great
opportunity, and the people involved have been willing to consider a broad
range of social/cultural/labor history topics with a clear relation to
business. So don’t think that you have to be a business school person to

Best wishes,


From: Carol Lockman [mailto:clockman at Hagley.org] 
Sent: Friday, August 09, 2013 1:22 PM
To: Carol Lockman
Subject: Reminder: BHC annual meeting abstract deadline/September 15th


Hi all:   Just a reminder!   The deadline this year for abstracts for the
BHC annual meeting is September 15th
..Best for the few weeks left of
summer!  C.


Carol Ressler Lockman

Business History Conference

Hagley Center





The Virtues and Vices of Business – a Historical Perspective


Business History Conference Annual Meeting

Frankfurt am Main, Germany 

March 13-15, 2014


The organizers invite papers and session proposals that address both the
micro and macro levels of the virtues and vices of business in historical
perspective. In keeping with longstanding BHC policy submissions need not be
directly related to the conference theme. The 2014 Program Committee
consists of: Ed Balleisen, Duke University (chair); Chris McKenna,
University of Oxford; Andrea Schneider, Society for Business History
(Germany); Per Hansen, Copenhagen Business School (BHC President), and
Jan-Otmar Hesse, University of Bielefeld. 


Is business good or bad, or both? Does business serve private or public
interests, or both? A variety of theories from the social sciences furnish
different answers to these questions and, by implication, different ideas
about the role of the state in creating the good society. The 2014 BHC
annual meeting aims to address these issues from a historical and empirical
perspective by exploring the virtues and vices of business across societies
from the early modern period to the present.


Business firms – large corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises and
entrepreneurs – have been decisive in securing economic growth and
development through the First, Second and Third Industrial Revolutions. By
constantly innovating, imitating and competing, business has changed the
lives of billions of people all over the world.  Firms have brought forward
new products and services that enrich and improve our lives. The wider
business community, including not just companies but also trade associations
and informal networks, have fashioned solutions to numerous pressing social
problems, whether concerning the environment, health and safety,
discrimination, social isolation, or other aspects of modern life. One can
similarly point to examples of business as a progressive force enabling
minorities and poor people to shape better lives.


Yet, four hundred years of business history are also replete with examples
of abusive and dehumanizing business practices, against other firms,
individuals, and entire peoples.  In some cases, as with plantation slavery
and imperial expansion, the offending enterprises worked closely with state
authorities.  In others, the actions of business entities prompted calls for
aggressive state intervention to minimize or end the negative effects of
business. The occurrence of business scandals amid extreme cases of
financial crisis offers especially well known historical instances of this
type.  But history offers an abundance of examples where business
enterprises have generated serious externalities, yet nonetheless privatized
profits while socializing risks borne by other stakeholders – and sometimes
by shareholders as well. Around the industrialized world, business interests
have also regularly interfered with politics, sometimes supporting
non-democratic regimes, lobbying against the public interest and fighting
organized labor.


Should we view such episodes of corruption and abuses of economic power as
regrettable costs that society must pay for increases in income and wealth?
Do these unseemly aspects of capitalism merely represent the unavoidable
process of Schumpeterian creative destruction? Or should we rather
understand them as the result of specific, and contingent, institutional
frameworks, business networks, and systems of corporate governance that
increase the likelihood and occurrence of business scandals and crisis? 


Another set of questions involve the evolution of societal understandings
about “the good and virtuous,” or “the bad and the vicious,” that we use to
praise or condemn particular markets, firms, or business practices.   To
what extent should we attribute the more abject failings of business, as
judged from any particular social vantage point, to the decline of old and
the rise of new social regimes that entail changes in discourse, narratives,
cultural values, and norms?  How have societies tried to set moral
boundaries to the domain of business – either by prohibiting some businesses
and markets outright, or by proscribing commercial practices as beyond the
ethical pale?  And how and why have those moral constraints on business
activity changed over time?


Must we endure the vices of business so that society may enjoy its virtues?
Do they result from state intervention that disturbs the delicate balancing
act of markets, or from too little regulation that allows private business
actors to pursue their own interests regardless of the costs to society? Or
should we abandon the dichotomy of state and market altogether and replace
it with a more historically based view of markets as embedded in social and
cultural relations? Even if one accepts the “embeddedness” of market
relations, we continue to face complicated questions about how to strike the
best balance between private and public interests.  How have societies
attempted to strike this complex balance?  What business networks, systems
of corporate governance, and cultural, political and social values have
historically contributed to achieving this balance most constructively?

The committee will consider both individual papers and entire panels.
Individual paper proposals should include a one-page (300 word) abstract and
one-page curriculum vitae (CV). Panel proposals should include a cover
letter stating the rationale for the panel and the name of its contact
person; one-page (300 word) abstract and author’s CV for each paper; and a
list of preferred panel chairs and commentators with contact information.
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. Everyone appearing on the program must register for the meeting. 


The BHC annual meeting has been organized locally by the Gesellschaft für
Unternehmensgeschichte (GUG, Society for Business History) and the GUG
participates in the program committee. GUG members are encouraged to propose
papers for this meeting. The language of the conference will be English. All
sessions will take place at Goethe University in Frankfurt, and lodging will
be in a number of area hotels.


The BHC awards the  <http://www.thebhc.org/awards/krooswin.html> 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 2014 annual meeting, and may only be submitted once
for the Krooss prize. If you wish to apply for this prize, please send a
letter to the Krooss Prize Committee expressing your interest along with a
one-page CV and one-page (300 word) dissertation abstract. 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 2014 BHC annual meeting in
Frankfurt and will receive a partial subsidy of their travel costs to the


The  <http://www.thebhc.org/awards/kerr.html> K. Austin Kerr Prize is
awarded for the best first paper delivered by a new scholar at the annual
meeting of the BHC.  A “new scholar” is defined as a doctoral candidate or a
Ph. D. whose degree is less than three years old. If you wish to participate
in this competition, please notify the BHC program committee in your
proposal. Proposals accepted for the Krooss Prize are not eligible for the
Kerr Prize. 

The  <http://www.thebhc.org/awards/halloran.html> CEBC-Halloran Prize in the
History of Corporate Responsibility is awarded for a paper presented at the
annual meeting of the BHC that makes a significant contribution to the
history of corporate responsibility. Corporate responsibility is understood
to embrace the many ways in which the firm relates to the political realm
and the wider society.

The deadline for receipt of all proposals (papers, panels, and Krooss Prize
competition) is 15 September 2013. Please send them to
<mailto:BHC2014 at Hagley.org> BHC2014 at Hagley.org. Acceptance letters will be
sent by 1 December 2013. Presenters are expected to submit abstracts of
their papers for posting on the BHC website. In addition, presenters are
encouraged to post electronic versions of their papers prior to the meeting.

The Oxford Journals Doctoral Colloquium in Business History will be held in
conjunction with the BHC annual meeting. This prestigious workshop,
sponsored by BHC and funded by the Journals Division of Oxford University
Press, will take place in Frankfurt Wednesday March 12 and Thursday March
13. The colloquium is limited to ten students.  Participants work
intensively with a distinguished group of BHC-affiliated scholars that
includes at least two BHC officers. The colloquium will discuss dissertation
proposals, relevant literatures and research strategies, and employment
opportunities in business history. This colloquium is intended for doctoral
candidates in the early stages of their dissertation projects. If you are
interested in being considered for this colloquium, please submit to Roger
Horowitz by 15 November 2013 to  <mailto:BHC2014 at Hagley.org>
BHC2014 at Hagley.org a statement of interest, a CV, a preliminary or final
dissertation prospectus of 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, Pamela Laird,
<mailto:Pamela.Laird at ucdenver.edu> Pamela.Laird at ucdenver.edu. All
participants receive a stipend that will partially cover the costs of their
attendance at the annual meeting. The colloquium committee will notify all
applicants of its decisions by 15 December 2013.


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