European Business History Association Annual Congress

Start date

Thursday 29 Aug 2019, 09:00

End date

Saturday 31 Aug 2019, 17:00

Ever since the 1990s, the creative industries have been a topic of both praise and contention. The 2019 EBHA conference, themed around The Business History of Creativity intends to address creativity in business and the growth and development of the creative industries.

We cordially invite you to the 23rd annual conference of the European Business History Association in our lively, modern and colourful port city of Rotterdam. Post-industrial port societies are recognised as important hub cities not just for the exchange of goods, but also, and maybe even primarily, for knowledge and creativity. Port cities reinvent themselves and may become central hubs of the creative industries. This term is a relatively recent concept coined in the late 1990s by New Labour in Britain. Ever since, this contested concept has evolved into an important policy instrument of national and local governments, the European Union, and the United Nations, as a key driver of local competitiveness and economic development.

During this conference we will explore the impact and the implementation of this policy instrument on a local, national and supranational level. We also aim to historicize the concept and explore the historical roots of the creative industries, analysing different sectors, including art markets, film, fashion, radio, television, music, design, theatre, tourism and video games. Other topics we aim to address include how creativity can be defined and how this links to the concept of creative industries. Not only does creativity matter to its namesake industries, but also to most sectors of national and international economies. It forms the basis of innovation and firm competitiveness. Innovation, creativity, and the creative industries are closely linked concepts. The creative industries are based on creativity, skills, and talent, and the potential for wealth and job creation through the development of intellectual property. Nevertheless, creativity, creative industries and entrepreneurs are under-researched topics in business history. The EBHA encourages new, innovative ideas and comparisons of content and methodology drawn from all over the world. The organizers are particularly interested in attracting multidisciplinary contributions with cross-border implications. Our research interests and methodology are not focused purely on comparative statistical data, but rather historical contextualization, institutional development as well as the human factor of business over time. The program committee welcomes papers on a wide-range of topics, but our special interests lie in the various dimensions of the creative industries and creativity within businesses, sectors, cities, and nations. Additionally, we welcome paper submissions broadly related (but not limited) to the following aspects: the past, presence and persistency of innovation and its linkage to firm dynamics and economic growth.

In addition to proposals for individual papers, scholars are warmly invited to propose entire panel sessions to create more coherence in the conference. For full panel sessions, we strongly recommend integrating a variety of comparative national, regional or sectoral differences. Our goal is to maximize the program’s capability to highlight global comparisons of creative firms, industries, entrepreneurial families, markets, actors, business organizations, industrial clusters, and other dimensions of business. Session and paper proposals can be submitted through the conference website.

 Keynote speakers are:

Joel Mokyr, professor of economics and history at Northwestern University, who is well known for his work on technological creativity and economic progress. His impressive research output include The gifts of athena: Historical origins of the knowledge economy (2011) and A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy (2016).

and Vicky Broackes, senior curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum, who was responsible for internationally acclaimed exhibitions such as David Bowie Is (which ran from 2013 and 2018 in 12 different countries) and You say you want a revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970 (2016).

The conference starts on 29th of August, at 17.00 with registration and a reception at the Rotterdam City Hall, with a welcome by mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb. The conference will be concluded on Saturday night with a conference dinner on the SS Rotterdam, one of the last classic cruise ships of the famous Holland-America Line.

We are looking forward to an interesting exchange of ideas on creativity within businesses and business history. We especially welcome papers, sessions and workshops with multi- and interdisciplinary approaches to the conference theme.

More information

See the full text of the Call and further information on

Please do not hesitate to contact Hilde Sennema with any questions at