Reimagining Academic Conferences: Toward a Federated Model of Conferencing

Management Learning, Forthcoming

13 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2021 Last revised: 4 Jun 2021

See all articles by Dror Etzion

Dror Etzion

McGill University

Joel Gehman

George Washington University - Department of Strategic Management & Public Policy

Gerald F. Davis

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Date Written: June 3, 2021

Abstract

What should the post-COVID conference look like? In our attempt to answer this question, we first describe the primary functions and affordances of conferences. Our frank appraisal reveals the breadth of reasons why academics attend conferences, and how conference attendance often blends personal and professional motivations. We also elaborate some of the shortcomings of in-person conferences, spanning personal, professional and societal concerns. Recent alternative (virtual) formats for convening scholars provide means for alleviating some of these shortcomings, but do not seem entirely up to the task of providing a fully satisfactory solution to all that conferencing can be. Moreover, we extrapolate from prior history and ongoing trends to predict that technological solutionism to conferencing is likely to unleash both positive and negative dynamics, some of which will exacerbate current ills in our profession. We then sketch out a values-based approach that can serve as a basis for reimagining academic conferences. This vision promotes a federated model of conferencing, grounded in principles of inclusion, diversity, community and environmental stewardship.

Keywords: academic conferences, academic travel, climate change, information and communication technology, online collaboration

JEL Classification: M10, M14, L84

Suggested Citation

Etzion, Dror and Gehman, Joel and Davis, Gerald F., Reimagining Academic Conferences: Toward a Federated Model of Conferencing (June 3, 2021). Management Learning, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3837464 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3837464

Dror Etzion

McGill University ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St. W
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1G5
Canada

Joel Gehman (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Department of Strategic Management & Public Policy ( email )

Washington, DC 20052
United States

Gerald F. Davis

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1234
United States
734-647-4737 (Phone)
734-936-0282 (Fax)

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