2012 Strategic Management Society Conference in Prague

Just a reminder to anyone interested (or out of the loop): the deadline to submit something for the October 5-7 Strategic Management Society conference is in two days (Feb 23). This year’s theme is “Strategy in Transition” (here’s the call for proposals).  I like SMS’s approach of requesting paper “proposals” (essentially extended abstracts rather than full papers): easier on both the reviewers and authors.

My verdict on SMS?  I like the conference.  It is quite pricey (the conference fee is a hefty $1000+), but generally the sessions are good.  And most of all, it’s fun to interact and meet up with strategy colleagues, co-authors and friends in a somewhat smaller setting (not quite the zoo that the Academy of Management can be — SMS is far more targeted).

And, as a bonus, the locations tend to be excellent.  I attended the Rome SMS conference in 2010 and this year’s conference will be held in Prague.  Maybe we’ll live blog from the conference this year.

3 Comments on “2012 Strategic Management Society Conference in Prague”

  1. I’m with you, Teppo: it’s a good conference, and the venues tend to be terrific. However, 2010 in the isolated boondocks outside Rome left a lot to be desired; the easy solution to that problem was to have the conference several weeks later–after “high season” when hotel rates in Rome itself would fall by 70%. I heard one wag wonder aloud “if the Strategic Management Society isn’t in dire need of some strategic management.”

    As you noted, the submissions are called “proposals.” But, make no mistake about it: the presentations themselves tend to be full-blown papers. This, in turn, has resulted in high “churn” in the contingent of “B’s and C’s” (business professionals and consultants) that the SMS likes to trumpet about itself.

    Having spent a half-decade in a Ph.D. program in strategic management myself, I have nothing but the highest respect for rigorous and relevant research. Our two-person shop subscribes to more than twenty academic journals. We love good research.

    However, I fear that SMS has become a caricature. I have seen a steady deterioration in the real-world relevance of papers at the SMS conference, which has been accompanied by a steady increase in too many mind-numbing papers that have the literary power of general anesthesia. It doesn’t have to be like that: great research can also be great reading. One would think that an organization that says it’s about bringing academics, business professionals, and consultants together under the slogan of “Linking Thoughtful Practice with Insightful Scholarship” would be more sensitive to the deadening impact of academese.

    Worse, over 90% of SMS members are academics. If observable institutional phenomena are any indication, non-academics are unwelcome. There is no ‘practitioner track,’ no ‘papers for practitioners’ (by practitioners!), and no non-academics in the SMS leadership. So one is left to wonder just how serious the SMS is about the “B’s and C’s.”

    If one looks at the joke that is the SMS website, one sees a Soviet-style operation with all information and control controlled, confidential, and centralized. Most important, access to the SMS membership is not available on-line. When one asks about that, as I have, one is apt to hear bureaucratic babbling about “privacy concerns.” Hogwash. It certainly doesn’t seem to be a problem for the much larger Academy of Management, of which I’m also a member.

    As an SMS member for nearly twenty years, let me close with this: If the SMS is really serious about “B’s and C’s,” it should start walking the talk. Right now, though, that’s all there is: talk. And pretty hollow talk, at that..

  2. teppo says:

    Yes, the Rome (outskirts) location was horrific indeed. I actually ended up staying in Rome itself, and then just taking the SMS-provided bus (I think I remember it taking 25-30 min) to the conference.

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