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International Session of the 54th Congress of the Business History Society of Japan (BHSJ)

Merging methods and approaches: history, social science and business historians


Business History Society of Japan (BHSJ), founded in 1964, is one of the longest-standing and largest national organizations in the discipline. Since its 50th anniversary, the BHSJ has made it a priority to foment interaction and dialogue between business historians in Japan and those based elsewhere, and as a result it has organized international sessions in English on a biannual basis which take place concurrently with its Japanese sessions. In 2018, the congress will be held in Kyoto, a charming city where the tradition of the ancient capital of Japan merges with the modern spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. The congress will comprise two full days of paper sessions and incorporates a plenary session titled ‘Situating Business History: Going Beyond National, Disciplinary and Methodological Boundaries’ and a special commemorative session, ‘The Fuji-Conference session’. This session honors the great tradition of the BHSJ’s Fuji-Conference, a celebrated international meeting that dates back to 1974. In this year, its theme is “Toward Global Business History: A Focus on the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Industry” organized by Taniguchi, Akitake.
The main theme for the 2018 congress is ‘Merging methods and approaches: history, social science and business historians’. Since its emergence as a field in the 1920s, business historians have endeavored to bridge and combine the tools and approaches of history and social science. The prominence of one tradition over the other within our field shows remarkable diversity around the globe. In Japan, business history was institutionalized at faculties of social science, and so the use of social scientific concepts and inquiries became an essential element of the discipline fostering a rich tradition of detailed empirical studies in business and industrial history. However, in recent decades, as a result of the institutionalization of business history as its own discipline, the dialog with social scientists has subsided somewhat. The 2018 international session offers the opportunity to consider the current use of methods and approaches that are applied in our discipline across the globe, and to contemplate the future prospects and direction of our field. By bringing together the latest research on various topics within business history we hope to generate a fruitful discussion on the significance and limitations of social scientific methodologies and concepts.
Although the congress takes ‘Merging methods and approaches’ as the main theme, reflecting the great diversity in business history the BHSJ welcomes submissions on a whole range of topics, periods, regions, etc. We invite submissions of proposals by both individual researchers and complete panel sessions.

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