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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.

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.