Mission Statement of the Initiative Group

A World Congress of Business History

In the summer of 2012, a gathering of business historians from around the world met in Paris to discuss the possibility of creating a World Congress of Business History. This initial meeting, which enlisted prominent members of the world’s major business history organizations, generated a consensus that such a meeting was not only desirable, but also necessary, given the growing demand for a genuinely global conference.

Indeed, while business historians had opportunities to meet at global conferences, these venues had their limitations. Business historians often met during the triannual World International Economic History, but often came away feeling marginalized. On the other hand, while the international meetings of the Business History Conference (BHC) and the European Business History Association (EBHA) always sought a global profile, these organizations remained understandably wedded to topics and venues in North America and Europe. As well as the Business History Society of Japan (BHSJ) reached out for Korea, China and Australia but kept an Asian Focus. Business historians in and outside of these regions believed that a new, global meeting would help foster the field in their home countries.

At the same time all participants in this initial meeting and others that followed agreed that it was not necessary to create a new association to hold such a World Congress. Instead, the idea of a co-operation of the three bigger association (the BHC, the EBHA and the BHSJ) as well as representatives of the regions with no formal organizations of business history - Latin America, Africa, and the Pacific - was adopted.

The first World Conference (Frankfurt, 2014) with 180 participants and the first World Congress (Bergen, 2016) with 400 participants achieved many of the original goals. A growing number of business historians from underepresented areas of the world -- Latin America, Africa, India, Eastern Europe, and New Zealand – participated in these meetings, which will be held every four years. The next meeting of the World Congress will take place in Tokyo in 2020.