AoM Symposium on Business History and Deglobalization

20 10 2016

The next Academy of Management conference will take place Atlanta, Georgia, 4-8 August 2017. The Academy hosts symposia that can lead to publication in the Academy of Management Perspectives (AMP) publishes symposia that address important issues concerning management and business. Symposia consists of 4 to 6 papers discussing a well-defined topic. See guidelines here.

According to the Academy, unlike special issues, contributions to symposia are vetted by the symposium organizer, and curated so they complement each other. Examples of topics include, but are not limited to, advances in the neuroscience of decision making, business strategies from data science, the impact of contingent labor force on organizational sustainability, the limits of private/public partnerships on organizational growth, and so on.

The Academy are now calling for new proposals for symposia. I am writing this blog post to gauge the level of interest in a symposium on managerial responses to deglobalization. Since the world economy has experienced cycles of globalization and deglobalization, this symposium would be a great opportunity for business historians to showcase the relevance of their research to a wider range of scholars, including International Management scholars.

The working title of the symposium would be  “Managing in Ages of Deglobalization.” There is a vast literature on how firms have managed the many challenges related to globalization, here defined as falling barriers to the movement of goods and capital across borders. Business historians, along with scholars in such disciplines as economics, economic history, international management, operations management, organization studies, and strategy have contributed to our understanding of how firms have responded to the challenges and opportunities associated with globalization in the last few decades. We also are learning more about how firms took advantage of earlier globalization phases in world history, such as the golden age of globalization that is conventionally regarded to have ended abruptly in  1914 with the outbreak of the First World War.

Unfortunately, we know far less about firms have managed deglobalization — i.e., periods in which globalization goes into reverse and the barriers to international trade reappear, disrupting international value chains. Some research, some of which is in a forthcoming volume on international business strategy and the First World War, has been done but much more knowledge is required. Kindleberger’s seminal research suggests that globalization appears to have been a cyclical process, with periods of global economic integration being punctuated by breakdown in the international economic order and the reversion back in the direction of autarky. If this theory is true, business historians have a great deal to offer to our understanding of how the private-sector can manage deglobalization. Knowing more about managerial responses to globalization is particularly crucial at this point, as the prospect of Brexit and the rise of anti-trade and anti-globalization movements in countries around the world raises the spectre of deglobalization. Indeed, there is some evidence in the international trade data that deglobalization is already taking place (see here, here, and here). The IMF reports that since the 2008, Global Financial Crisis, world trade is now growing at a slower rate than the global economy as a whole.

Are you working on a paper that deals with managerial responses to deglobalization? Would you be interested in presenting it in this prestigious forum? If so, please contact me via email.

In organizing this symposium, I think that we should define both history and deglobalization broadly. Defining history broadly means that papers on recent periods of history would be very welcome. Defining deglobalization broadly involves extending the remit of the paper beyond the study of economic exchange across nation-state borders.  Tyler Cowen has recently pointed out that globalization can take place within countries as the natural and man-made barriers to trade within nations are reduced. In the interests of defining the panel in inclusive terms, I would welcome paper proposals that deal with managerial responses to the breakdown of long-distance supply chains within large nation states, particularly federal ones.





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