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 Party Calendar

Besides the above described Professional Development Workshops at the Academy of Management Conference, it is, of course, also important to mingle with other researchers at some of the receptions hosted by the various divisions or by particular universities. For this reason, Professors @SekouBermis and @Unzueta have set up a public Google Calendar (thanks to this great tutorial).

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.

Reflections on the #AOM2011

I just got back from my first Academy of Management Conference. The AOM Conference is the largest annual gathering of management scholars in the world. This year, it was attended by roughly 10,000 people from around the world and it took place in San Antonio, TX, USA. At the conference there are a number of panels, symposia, workshops and special programs for doctoral students. Doubtlessly, I was privileged to go.

I thought I’ll give a quick overview of what it was like, followed by blog posts on the doctoral workshop I attended, outstanding events & people as well as tips for getting research published. In order to find out more, check out the conversations around the meeting by having a look at the Twitter Hashtag #AOM2011.

Going through the program beforehand, I recognized a number of names that I had come across in my research. The AOM Conference surely is a great chance to put faces to the articles one is normally reading. As mentioned above, there were different session formats, each serving a particular purpose. The most powerful type of event, to my mind, are the professional development workshops. I attended such a PhD workshop by the AOM Division on Organizational Change and Development and another one for new doctoral students. Furthermore, I went to a Symposium on Dynamic Capabilities, for example, which constitutes a central topic of my doctoral program. This gave me a chance to hear the dicussions scholars are currently having. Their talks usually started by summarizing the literature in their particular fields and then they went right into the controversies. Roundtable discussions were useful to get a feel for the questions other scholars are likely to ask in response to particular papers or studies which are in the process of being published. One such Discussion Session was on Relationships, another component of my PhD program. Last but not least there are the socials, of course, which took place at numerous locations around the city. You can tell networking is an essential part of the event and much room is given for such activities. There is even an AOM Party Account on Twitter and a Google Calendar published for this purpose. My personal favorite was Monday night’s reception on the Tower of the Americas. All in all, the AOM Conference is great value for money.

I’ll close this post with a quote from Bill Pasmore, who’s the editor of the journal Research in Organizational Change and Development and who was also part of the above mentioned workshop: “You tell us where to go, because you are the future of change!” In this sense, it was inspiring to see the big shots in the management field while at the same time we were introduced to the academic profession and made aware of the fact that it is our research that will drive the discipline and will be published 5-10 years from now.

AOM ODC PhD Workshop – Nasty Friends Session

The PhD Workshop run by Inger Stensaker and the ‘Nasty Friends Session’ contained in it where truly useful. What I’d like to highlight here is the process and the rules of the game rather than the content. In the weeks prior to the workshop we were asked to read papers by Quy Huy, Gavin Schwarz and a number of PhD proposals from our group. All papers were then to be criticized in the workshop.


3 min intro by the author of the paper

10 min critique by a senior academic

10 min critique by the audience

3 min feedback by the author as to which criticisms will likely be taken on board and which ones dismissed


No positive feedback is allowed. This is a great thing and saves a ton of time, particularly in an Anglo-Saxon environment 😉

The author of the paper is not allowed to reply to any of the criticisms until they get their last three minutes. 

It turned out that the academic papers we scrutinized had both been nominated for best paper awards. At first this made us think that there would be little to criticize and we were somewhat reluctant to start. However, as things got rolling, more and more comments were made by the PhD students. In total, there were more than 20 suggestions for improvement for each of the two papers and although the quantity is no guarantee for quality, Quy and Gavin acknowledged and welcomed a number of recommendations. We proceeded in much the same way with our own PhD proposals.

Speaker & Event Highlights

Here a few speakers and sessions I particularly liked:

1. It really doesn’t matter who you are or how you got here by Bruce Meglino

Bruce talked about his career and how it developed over time. He had to work very hard to make his way up. It sounded a bit like the American self-made millionaire story, with the exception that it was told for an academic audience. At one point Bruce posed a question to the audience: “Do you feel guilty when watching TV? If you do, chances are you work hard enough.” I couldn’t agree more.

2. The truth about academia by Angelo DeNisi

Angelo provided a personal account of his journey through academia and stressed the costs and sacrifices of being in the profession. Although this could be seen as discouraging, I felt he was sincere about the drawbacks of his chosen career path without deflating its value. Having served as a past president of both the Academy of Management and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, he admitted that his career had interfered more than once with his personal life, forcing him to give up many, if not all, of his hobbies and breaking the relationship with his first wife.

3. The 300 Dollar House by Vijay Govindarajan

I had recently read about an interesting project in the Economist about housing the poor. When Vijay stepped on the stage and opened his slide set, I was extremely thrilled to see what was coming up. He gave a presentation on the 300 dollar house, a research project that has a huge potential for society. I was deeply impressed with his efforts of turning this research into reality. A particularly noteworthy aspect of this job is the use of social media to generate ideas and build a community that wouldn’t be able to meet and fulfill its mission in ‘real life’.