Annual Academy of Management Meeting Provides an Opportunity to Explore Business and Society Issues
What is the new vision of management in the 21st Century? This question helped bring together over 6,000 people, representing 62 countries, for the 65th Annual Academy of Management Meeting. The beautiful Hawaiian mountains of Honolulu provided an inspirational backdrop against which Academy members came together August 5-10 to explore their visions of management-in both theory and practice- for this new century, including:
- What do we mean by managerial performance in a century that may be characterized by new and extreme ranges of asset valuation, the emergence of new types of capital, and the redistribution of markets and wealth? How should managers be evaluated in this new age?
- What do we mean by ethical management behavior in a 21st century characterized by diverse norms, customs and competing interests? What value will society and stakeholders place on proper ethical behavior in this new age? What should the ethical standards be? Who should set them?
- What is the purpose of the publicly traded organization in the 21st century? How will the missions and purposes of public organizations differ around the world and what are the consequences of these differences for the management of such organizations?
- In what ways should managers direct resources toward scientific and technological discovery in the 21st-century economy typified by dramatic differences in wealth and individual needs? What responsibility do managers have to sponsor research that promotes the welfare of the disadvantaged versus the advantaged?
- How should managers infuse the corporation with value in the 21st century? What value? Whose value? For what purpose?
- In organizations of the future, what responsibility do managers have in helping employees-and their families-achieve personal satisfaction and success?
- What is the role of business schools and management education in shaping the future of management in the 21st century? How will this role change in response to the new requirements of management? Will academics lead or follow these changes?
As these questions indicate, the role of the corporation in society seemed to be a theme throughout many of the sessions at this year’s Academy. In addition to a myriad of sessions where individuals presented their research around these topics, there were also several ‘All Academy Sessions’ (AAS) bringing together people from all divisions of the Academy to explore the relationship of business and wider society. Bill Starbuck from New York University hosted one such session titled, Corporations for a Better World? Bill set the stage for a dynamic conversation with his presentation, “We need the Power of Corporations.” Adding to the dialogue, Bill was joined by a stellar panel including, James Walsh from the University of Michigan who spoke on “The Unfettered Corporation: Corporate Social Responsibility and the Coming Crisis of Corporate Control,” and Alan Meyer from the University of Oregon, who spoke on “Rethinking and Reclaiming the Corporation.”
Another All-Academy-Session titled, “The Future of Business Schools: How Must They Change?” provided a forum for another lively debate on the face of management education in the 21st century. Moderated by Judy Olian from Pennsylvania State University, panelists included Paul Danos from Dartmouth College; Stuart Feldman from IBM Research and Henry Mintzburg from McGill University.
The ODC and OMT divisions sponsored a session on “Corporate Social Responsibility and its Implications for Management Research and Education.” Facilitated by Mona Amodeo, Keith Cox and Daniel Saint from Benedictine University, this session provided another great exploration of the role of the corporation in society. Panelists included Phil Mervis, a psychologist and consultant; Scott Reed, the former Group President of the Donnelly Corp.; and Ray Anderson, Founder & Chairman of Interface, Inc.
In an effort to bring the Academy’s expertise in management theory to bear on social issues, this year’s meeting also brought the first in a series of All-Academy public-affairs forums. This inaugural session focused on the critical role organizational scholars can play in reforming the management practices that negatively impact public education. William G. Ouchi presented on his revolutionary new book, Making Schools, to show how management theories can be applied to making a difference in the public sector such as education. Ouchi was joined by an all-star panel including Richard Riordan, Former Secretary of Education for California, and Linda Lingle, Governor of Hawaii – marking the first time a state governor participated in an Academy session.
Building upon the various discussions that occurred during the Academy, our own Center for Business as Agent of World Benefit also hosted a caucus session on the last day of the conference titled, “Shaping Tomorrow’s Business Leaders Today: Changing Society by Changing Management Education.”The aim of this session was to continue the emerging dialogue around the role of business in society and the role of management education in helping to effectively prepare graduates to not only survive, but also thrive as 21st Century business leaders.
Next year’s Academy promises to continue this growing dialogue on the intersection of business and societal needs. To be held in Atlanta, Georgia, August 11-16, the theme of the conference will be Knowledge, Action and The Public Concern and seeks to explore the linkages among organizational knowledge, managerial action and the major issues that face people in the global and knowledge economy. To read more about next year’s conference: http://meetings.aomonline.org/2006/
By Lindsey Godwin
 Questions taken from Smith, Le, and Cao (2005), “A New vision of management in the 21st Century” http://meetings.aomonline.org/2005/ConferenceTheme.html