Call for Papers – ‘Business History’ Special Issue

Home > News & events > Call for Papers – ‘Business History’ Special Issue
Date / time
31/05/2024, All day

Special Issue Business History

Globalisation, varieties of economic nationalism and big business: innovation, opportunities and long-term strategy, 1870-2022

Globalisation as a historical process since the 19th century has been characterised by the reduction of geographic constraints and by the growing flow of goods, capital, people, and ideas across national borders. In a long-term perspective, the growth of trade and the integration of the global economy has indisputably been phenomenal. But at the same time, globalisation has experienced periods of slower expansion, characterised in the first place by trade restrictions, capital controls, and various forms of economic nationalism such as that taking place from the late 1870s until 1914, in the 1930s and, again, after 2010.

The Special Issue for the academic journal Business History intends investigating how trade restrictions and economic nationalism affected business and international business strategy. It looks at the experience of big enterprises and multinational firms based or operating in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the United States during the mentioned epochs of slower globalisation. Particular attention will inevitably be granted to the inter-war era because it was the period when the most extreme varieties of economic nationalism, and with it, trade and financial restrictions took place. The special issue intends however to cover a longer time span and to consider other periods in which slower integration did not result in deglobalisation as in the 1930s and economic as well as industrial growth continued to be marked by forms of economic nationalism.

How did firms react to economic policies which set obstacles in their business and trade relations? How did they adapt to changing trade and financial patterns (for example, the scarcity of currency)? By contrast, did economic nationalism offer opportunities to firms and, if so, in what ways? What has been the impact of trade restrictions on inventive activity? How did business and vested interests shape government decisions when it came to economic nationalism? This seems to be especially relevant with regard to the experience of big enterprises/foreign multinationals in Japan, Germany, Italy but also Latin American countries (particularly, Brazil and Argentina). Those countries took the most extreme forms of economic nationalism, variously called autarky or economic self-sufficiency. These began in the 1930s but were not fully relaxed until the late 1960s (and even the 1970s in the case of Latin America and Southeast Asia).

The Special Issue will attempt the following questions:

  1. Which strategies could firms adopt to mitigate and/or circumvent restrictions in the field of global technological and commercial cooperation brought about by economic nationalism and trade restrictions?
  2. To what extent, and if so in what ways, did the closing up of the domestic market make an impact on productivity and technological progress?
  3. Are comparisons between Latin American firms and those in Europe, in Japan and China possible, and if so to what extent?
  4. For how long after WW II did the new policy framework and the new constraints influencing business strategy persist?

We are asking for proposals (max. 1,000 words) which will attempt those questions (and cover the abovementioned topics) from a genuine business history perspective. However, they will also show an ability to take into consideration the broader economic, historical and political context in which big companies/multinationals operated.

The contributors should send the abstract of their proposal by May 31st to (in alphabetical order): Valerio Cerretano, University of Florence (; Tetsuji Okazaki, University of Tokyo (; Roman Köster, Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften (; and Beatriz Rodriguez-Satizábal Universidad del Pacifico (

Below is a timetable of the selection process leading to the publication:
May 31st 2024 – Extended abstract
August – Paper development workshop (online)
October 7th 2024 – First draft submissions via ScholarOne
October-December 2024 – First round of revisions
March 2025 – Second draft submissions via ScholarOne
April-June 2025 – Second round of revision
September 2025 – Final and revised submission