It’s that time of year when many academics leave the safe confines of their ivory towers and travel out to conferences to share their latest ideas and work with colleagues at various academic conferences. I have just returned from over three weeks worth of trips to three very different conferences in three very different countries. First up was the annual European Academy of Management (EURAM) Conference, held this year at Kozminski University in the capital of Poland, Warsaw between Wednesday 17th and Sat 29th June.
Highlights of the conference for me were winning an award for our paper, hearing from a Nobel Laureate and ex President, and an awesome party on the banks of the Vistula river…
This was my first trip both to a European Academy of Management (EURAM) conference and Poland itself. If you have not come across EURAM, it is a professional community of engaged management scholars and reflective practitioners with the aim of facilitating open, inclusive, international and cross-cultural academic discourse. The EURAM website states that “the academy places a strong emphasis on multidisciplinary theoretical perspectives and methodological pluralism, and promotes critical examinations of the historical and philosophical roots of management theory and praxis, and that it aims to enhance the quality of research, improve its relevance for responsible and effective practice and contribute to the social and political discourse on management”. Faced with that rather dense, and slightly intimidating set of academic words and statements I had no idea what to expect. What I found was a welcoming set of people from all over the world with the common purpose of wanting to improve the management profession.
Like many similar large conferences such as the Academy of Management (AoM) in the US and the British Academy of Management (BAM) in the UK, the conference is divided into Special Interest Groups (SIGs). This system allows for the more efficient creation of a community of ideologically or discipline related scholars and colleagues can either stick along this conference track or dip in and out of different groups. The paper we authored was allocated to the Business in Society SIG and as a result I spent most of my time in sessions aligned to this group and attended SIG meetings and a the SIG social on the first night of the conference. Despite my initial nervousness as to how I might find the conference, the whole event was extremely welcoming and this particular SIG especially so. I also ran into a friend from another conference last year and made some new ones.
The paper that I presented was written my myself and my colleague at Northumbria University, Robert Moehler. It was titled “Responsible Business Model Innovation: Reconceptualising the role of business in society” and in it we argue that the concept of ‘Responsible Innovation’ has predominantly been applied from a technocentric perspective at the level of product and service thus maintaining the current paradigm that business’s primary role is to create economic value through profit. We developed this argument to suggest that truly responsible innovation takes place at the level of the business model itself as a means to reconceptualize the fundamental role of business in society. I am very pleased to say that the paper was well received and won a “Most Inspirational” paper in the SIG whilst also being nominated for the overall conference “Most Inspirational Paper” award which we unfortunately did not come away with, but hey – ill take the SIG award any day! We are currently developing the paper into a Journal article to be published next year.
The conference was hosted at Kozminski University, a private, non profit business school in Warsaw, Poland. Considered Poland’s highest rated private university, it was established in 1993 and named after Leon Koźmiński, a Polish professor of economics and entrepreneurship, and also the father of Andrzej Koźmiński – the founder and the first rector of the school. It is one of the top business schools in the world recognised by their triple crown accreditation from EFMD, AMBA and the AACSB. The University were excellent hosts and the conference was very well organised. The key-note speaker on the first day was the Nobel Peace Price Laureate, former President of Poland, trade-union organizer, philanthropist and human-rights activist, Lech Wałęsa who gave a charismatic, humorous and thought-provoking speech focussing on the responsibility of business as a force for good – a key interest of mine and this blog. The second Key Note speaker was Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation. She gave a very different key-note to Wałęsa but just as inspiring as she set out the business model of the non-profit Wikimedia and the challenges for educating the more connected and technologically adept student of the future.
Finally it has to be said that this cohort at the EURAM 2016 conference know how to party! The climax of the event was a party held at the National Stadium, Warsaw which saw some serious eating, drinking and dancing, all in the name of building closer academic relationships ;). Some of us carried on the party afterwards in the outdoor clubs on the beach along the shores of the river Vistula..
All in all the EURAM 2015 conference was a fantastic event and one that was very productive both in terms of learning, receipt of prizes, opportunities for further work and publications, and perhaps most importantly connections and friendships made. I can highly recommend the EURAM conferences to anybody interested in management or business related topics and I am looking forward to EURAM 2016 which is to be held in Paris at the Univeristy Paris-Est Creteil (UPEC) on the topic of ‘Manageable Cooperation’.
Were you at EURAM 2015? if so let me know and share your experiences in the comments below!