The DCR Doctoral Program: Celebrating 10 Years

My doctoral program recently turned 10. I joined the the doctoral program in Dynamic Capabilities and Relationships in 2011. The program was the reason for me to return from the UK to Germany. I was extremely excited about the opportunity. And the program did deliver: We were given absolute freedom to work independently on our research projects, had the opportunity to attend numerous research events, such as summer schools, workshops and conferences, and were supervised by experienced and well-published academics.

Shortly upon graduation from the doctoral program, in 2014, I became a Visiting Professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. I was privileged to spend some time with Samer Faraj’s Research Group on Complex Collaboration, whose work had strongly influenced my dissertation. In a sense, it was the culmination of my journey in the doctoral program and, of course, the foundation for my current work as a professor at Munich Business School.

To mark the 10-year anniversary, all members of the doctoral program were recently asked to write s short note of reflection. I chose to contemplate my first visit to the Academy of Management Conference, one of the world’s biggest management conferences, in the summer of 2011. (One of my key takeaways was…)

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AoM Symposium: Microfoundations of Dynamic Capabilities

At this year’s Academy of Management Conference, which will take place in Orlando, Florida, my colleague Markus Vodosek and I are going to organize a symposium entitled Microfoundations of Dynamic Capabilities. The symposium will feature presentations by Jeff Martin, whom I met for the first time in 2012, and several of my colleagues from the PhD program on Dynamic Capabilities and Relationships. Margaret Peteraf has agreed to serve as a discussant for the session.

The symposium is sponsored by the Business Policy and Strategy Division, the Organization and Management Theory Division, and the Technology and Innovation Management Division. Our session is scheduled for Monday, August 12, 2013, from 4:45pm to 6:15pm at WDW Swan Resort in Pelican 1. If you are a scholar interested in dynamic capabilities and their microfoundations, we hope to meet you there.

How to Review: Some Guidelines

I recently finished the review of a paper for the International Conference on Information Systems. Earlier this year, I also reviewed for the Academy of Management Conference. The act of reviewing is a recurring task for any academic and I wonder what ‘set of instructions’ fellow scholars are using in this process. The Academy of Management provides some guidelines and also posted a few book chapters on its website. I find the following papers particularly helpful:

What are your favorites in this area? Which set of guidelines have supported you in the review process? Please drop me a line if you have an interesting addition to this list.

The AoM Conference 2012 – Impresssions and Reflections

The first couple of days at the Academy of Management Conference went by quickly and it has been very interesting. I have had the chance to see a number of people present whose ideas I have intensively dealt with over the past year or two. I spent most of my time at the OCIS PhD Consortium and the Professional Development Workshops listed below.

Here is a quick wrap-up of the events which I participated in and what has been most interesting to me about them.

OCIS PhD Consortium

The consortium was extremely well organized and thought through so kudos to Youngjin Yoo for organizing it. I usually pay much attention to the format of these events. In this case, I really liked the mix of student involvement and feedback/advice from senior faculty. We started the workshop with roundtable discussions of our own proposals. My group mentor was Sirkka Jarvenpaa. Due to the small size of the groups, all participants had actually read the papers, were able to give detailed, quality feedback, and ask very targeted questions. The morning roundtable session was followed by a number of stimulating talks by senior scholars, such as Michael Barrett and Robert Fichman. The keynote, and my personal favorite, was the talk by Noshir Contractor on building strong academic networks as a form of career development. Last but least, we were asked to present posters of our research at a reception of the OCIS division. Offering food and drinks certainly helped to bring a lot of spectators to the exhibition room and gave us the chance to present our ideas to a critical audience of a number of potential reviewers and journal editors.

PDW on Social Media

The Social Media PDW line-up of speakers read much like a ‘Who’s who’ in research on social media and online communities. I perceived the presence of so many renowned scholars as slightly intimidating, however the discussions at the PDW were colleagial and even the most senior scholars were very personable. Looking at the structure and process of the PDW, I liked the idea of having several panelists present only 2-3 minutes in order to raise key questions researchers in the field are facing. The most interesting contribution, to my mind, was Steven Borgatti’s and Jerry Kane’s intent to blend  social media research with social network research using danah boyd’s affordances.

PDW on Sociomateriality

One of the talks I was particularly looking forward to was the one by Wanda Orlikowski who is an advocate of an approach called sociomateriality. Yet, most striking to me was not the methodological discussion surrounding this approach, but instead the research design used by Wanda in one of her recent studies called ‘Getting the truth’: exploring the material grounds of institutional dynamics in social media. In her study, Wanda contrasted how travel ratings on TripAdvisor, an online travel rating site, and a standard British travel guide by the AA are constructed, the former encompassing a mass of user-generated content whereas the latter is produced by paid experts. One the questions repeatedly posed about research concerning online communities is ‘What is different about online communities compared to offline ones?’. Wanda’s example about how these ratings come about was a superb example of where to look for these differences.

AOM PhD Consortia and Professional Development Workshops

The Academy of Management Conference in Boston is just around the corner. It’s taking place from August 3-7, 2012. I had the privilege to attend the conference for the first time last year and wrote several blog posts about the experience. First of all, I’d like to say that the conference is great value for money. Students pay 90 USD for the annual membership and another 90 USD to sign up for the conference. In return, they get five days of high quality symposia, paper sessions, roundtable discussions, and much more.

If you’re a PhD student like myself, you should definitely consider applying for one of the several doctoral consortia. Last year, I attended a session hosted by the Organizational Development and Change (ODC) division. This year, I found another one that suits my research interests even better. It is the PhD consortium organized by the Organizational Communication and Information Systems. The organizer, Professor Yoo, even managed to secure a research grant, which helps most of the attendants finance their stay. 

The second most outstanding offer next to the PhD consortia is probably what is called, in AOM speak, a PDW, i.e. a Professional Development Workshop. This type of workshop is targeted at established researchers who want to familiarize themselves with methods they haven’t used before or with emerging fields of research. I’ve listed my favorites below.

  1. Researching the Informal Economy: Opportunities and Challenges of Social Media Research
  2. Sociomateriality in Practice: Considering Consequences in Organizational Life and Research
  3. Advanced Networks PDW: Cutting-Edge Social Network Theoretical Work and ERGM

To my mind, these workshops are a great way to get in touch with the people whose work I’m reading on a daily basis. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Steve Borgatti, Ann Majchrzak, Samer Faraj, Sirkka Jarvenpaa, Wanda Orlikowski, Jerry Kane, as well as Martin Kilduff present and discuss their recent research projects.