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Announcement: The BHC 2021 annual meeting will be a virtual meeting

[A message from BHC President Neil Rollings]

The BHC 2021 annual meeting will be a virtual meeting

The call for papers is being revised in line with this and the new deadline for the submission of proposals is 14 November 2020.


Dear BHC members 


I hope you are all well and I apologise for the length of this email but I believe it is necessary. 


Thank you to all of you who made the effort to complete the member survey about the 2021 conference. With 139 responses it gave us a clear insight into the attitudes of the membership which gave us confidence to decide how to proceed. For anyone interested the summary results from the survey can be found at Thank you also to those who engaged in email correspondence associated with the survey. 


In the light of the responses the Program Committee recommended to the BHC trustees, who agreed, that there should be no physical meeting in March 2021. We regret this decision but believe there is no alternative given the current situation and the uncertainty moving forward. The Program Committee would like to thank Roger Horowitz who has minimised the financial cost to the BHC of this decision. He has negotiated with the hotel that there would be a $8000 fine (instead of the prospective fine of over $40,000) and that this could act as a down payment on holding the 2023 BHC annual meeting in Detroit. The trustees approved this at their meeting last week. 


From the member survey it was clear that many wished to cancel the 2021 meeting and to start afresh in 2022. However, the largest number did wish for a virtual meeting. In addition, the point was made in correspondence with the officers of the BHC that given the economic situation and the lack of positions being advertised it was incumbent on the BHC to do what it could to help emerging business historians as best it could in this difficult job market. The Emerging Scholars Committee along with Paula de la Cruz-Fernández are already developing some new initiatives in this respect but the Program Committee and the trustees have agreed that having a virtual conference is an important element of these efforts. 


Accordingly, the 2021 BHC annual meeting will take place in a virtual form in March 2021. 


The Program Committee are revising the Call for Papers in line with this and it will be circulated shortly once it has been approved. The BHC website will also be updated shortly. In the meantime, there are some points I wanted to make clear at this stage: 


1. The focus of activities will be aimed at helping emerging scholars – this will be in the form of providing them with an opportunity to present their work but also schedule workshops and provide opportunities for mentoring by established scholars in the field. 

2. It was clear from the survey that networking matters and so a real effort will be made to provide networking opportunities within the program. 

3. More generally, the aim is to maximise the opportunities for two-way interaction with speaker time limited and an emphasis on discussion. This means we are open to experimentation in the format of sessions

3. The conference will be less intensive than usual and with activities spread across the day to allow greater engagement from around the world and to avoid Zoom fatigue. 

4. This does mean that there will be significantly fewer opportunities to present work in the traditional format. We are looking at other ways of presenting work virtually to maximise the opportunities to present research. 

5. We are hoping to record all sessions which will then be available via the BHC website as lasting archive of the meeting. 

6. The BHC Doctoral Colloquium will take place but not in conjunction with the virtual annual meeting, but probably later in the spring. Similarly, it is envisaged that pre-conference workshops will take place virtually at another time in the year to be decided. 


To give the Program Committee time to revise the call for papers and for the business history community to respond to it the deadline for submissions has been put back to 14 November 2020. This deadline is also now the relevant one for submissions to the Krooss Prize. 


This may not be the annual meeting we have envisaged but we regard it as an opportunity to experiment with different formats for sessions so please feel free to contact the Program Committee to sound out any ideas you may have (Lucy Newton (chair), Paula de la Cruz-Fernández, Marina Moskovitz, Susie Pak, Dan Wadhwani, and myself). 


Best wishes 


Neil Rollings 

BHC President and member of the Program Committee 

There will be more information about the BHC 2021 virtual meeting on the BHC website.   

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