CFP: Special issue on design, history and business, Entreprises et Histoire

Sarah Teasley's picture
Call for Papers
February 20, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Area Studies, Business History / Studies, Humanities, Social Sciences

Design, history and business: call for article proposals for a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Entreprises et Histoire (publication 2022)


This special issue of Entreprises et Histoire, the French journal for the history of business and management, invites contributions that consider the historical and contemporary role of design – widely defined – within business and management. The editors are particularly interested in articles that address design’s role in public and private sector organizations, beyond the conventions of product design and development or branding, including design as epistemological stance and/or heuristic in different economic sectors, geographies and cultures. The deadline for proposal submissions is 20 February 2020.

Designers, researchers and managers – only a handful of the many disparate actors who engage in and with design activity in business contexts – employ and understand ‘design’ differently in various economic sectors, geographies and contexts. Today, actors in many industries in the globally-interlinked economy understand design a practice concerning people, interactions, systems and services, rather than one principally related to form or aesthetic. Practitioners and researchers in areas such as service design, social design and design thinking have re-presented design as a transformational practice for public and private services and organizations alike. At the same time, explorations of practices emergent and aligning from local protocols and conditions have demonstrated how design, like any other social practice, is contingent on and contributes to local culture, contra to universalist claims, and how claims otherwise can perpetuate colonial and other systemic inequalities. While recent publications and conferences within design research, design management and social innovation, particularly, offer rich resources for practitioners, this research often sits beyond the scope of other researchers and managers alike. The journal thus particularly invites analyses of significant directions in the scholarship and practice of design for organizations or management that consider and articulate their significance in relation to wider themes in business, management and history.

The journal also invites contributions that consider questions in business history, STS and relevant fields from approaches aligned with design practices and perspectives. Within history, researchers are attending more closely to design practices, including those of craft and making-as-knowing, as factors in historical conditions, often attempting to more accurately describe historical conditions previously partial and fragmented due to hierarchies of knowledge which, in privileging the conventional archive over practice-based knowledge, erased the roles of design and making. Within design and business history specifically, historians have detailed the role of designers and attitudes towards design in shaping corporate and social trajectories particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth century, while labour anthropologists and others articulate the impact of Silicon Valley worldviews on design practice in the twenty-first century. There is however much more to say, particularly on the role of design in business and organizations outside the US and the UK and on design in premodern business contexts.

Design-related scholarship in the humanities and social sciences has changed as well, as historians, anthropologists and others writing with, about and in design incorporate decolonial design perspectives, speculative practice and other design directions into their scholarship, regardless of period and subject matter. Some reflect critically upon the new forms of design practice, including cogent critiques of ‘design thinking’ as universalist and exclusionary. Little scholarship in design or business history, however, has directly explored or assessed the turn to design thinking and design management, let alone shifts in 'design thinking' in other historical periods and geographies. Furthermore, how might the history of business and management incorporate understandings of design as epistemological and ontological practice and stance, beyond physical making? For example, service designers have made great inroads into public service delivery and some aspects of government. How might histories of organizations and management, public as well as private sector, incorporate practices and stances from service design?

In sum, practices and understandings of design’s role and potential have changed within design, business and history. This special issue welcomes proposals for papers that explore the new roles and practices of design, thematically, topically and/or methodologically, in its intersections with business, management and organizations, historically and in the present. Potential topics that papers might explore also include critical narratives and assessments of design’s transition from the design of products to design management, service design and design thinking for business, or indeed assessments of design’s ontological status and impact in earlier periods.

Potential authors are invited to submit a 400-word abstract or an abstract and article draft (35-40k characters). Full guidance on proposals and the editorial process is available on the journal website (French) (English). All submissions and any queries should be sent to Potential authors may also contact guest editor Sarah Teasley at to discuss a proposal.


Submission deadline: 20 February 2021

Planned publication: April 2022



Journal back issues online:

Submission guidelines (French):

Submission guidelines (English):

Contact Info: 

Entreprises et Histoire (journal):

Guest editor: Sarah Teasley,