Five Management Education Highlights from the 2012 Academy of Management Meetings

Oct 05, 2012

by David Rubeli

Boston, MA

The 2012 AoM annual meeting was held in Boston, MA. (Photo Credit: Werner Kunz)

Shauna Jones and I attended the 2012 Academy of Management (AoM) meetings in Boston, MA. In this article, I share five conference highlights that are relevant to the Beedie B.BA program and graduate programs at the Segal School:

1. Deep explorations of reflection and action learning at MIT Sloan
2. Henry Mintzberg’s inspiring MED Division Keynote
3. Clayton Christensen and David Teece on innovation in business schools
4. Exciting research on experiential Cultural Intelligence education
5. Thought-provoking ideas on integrating liberal education and management education

I highly recommend attending the AoM meetings to participate in the diverse professional development workshops offered on the first two days of the conference, and I look forward to speaking with others who have teaching and learning takeways to share from other summer conferences or are considering attending the 2013 AoM meeting on “Reconsidering Capitalism” in Orlando in 2013.

1. PDW workshops on reflection and action learning at MIT Sloan.
Two sessions at the MIT Sloan School were my favorite of the conference. These sessions focused on reflection and action learning. Visiting MIT Sloan was inspiring in itself because the learning space where we met embodied the principles of active, collaborative learning: a flat-floor classroom with whiteboards on all four walls, round tables, and moveable seating. The first session on facilitating reflection offered many different perspectives from noted North American and European management education scholars. The afternoon session featured Peter Senge and several participants from the MIT conference on Action Learning the week before AoM. (Watch highlights from this conference on YouTube.) These sessions were valuable because they delved into the challenges of fostering and provoking critical reflection and also to designing meaningful real-world experiential learning experiences for MBA and graduate students. These issues are relevant to anyone at Beedie designing projects or experience for learners to work directly with industry or the community.

2. Henry Mintzberg’s MED Keynote
Henry Mintzberg presented practical strategies from the IMPM program at McGill for increasing the impact of management graduate programs. The idea of “middle-out community development”, which Mintzberg describes in a 2009 HBR article, intrigued me because it embodies with the principle that a graduate program should not only change the participant but also his or her home organization. During the keynote, Mintzberg described how participants and alumni in the IMPM program form teams in the home organization to work with participants to bring back ideas from the program and implement changes. Mintzberg and his colleagues apply principles of adult education and collaborative, work-based learning to create meaningful and practical learning experiences for IMPM participants, including morning reflection sessions, friendly consulting, field studies, and managerial exchanges. Read more about the IMPM teaching and learning strategies and practices in “From Management Development to Organization Development with Impact” (2011).

3. Clayton Christensen and David Teece on business school innovation
If you are interested in how business schools can evolve to meet the challenges posed by online and private higher education institutions, Clayton Christensen and David Teece offered interesting insights in Boston. In the Q&A to their symposium on multinational enterprises, Christensen and Teece both shared their views on the future of business schools. Building on the argument he advances in The Innovative University, Christensen commented: “The disruption of business schools is afoot right now. I can’t imagine changing the core. The new game is already happening. Corporate and online universities are getting better. We need parallel action to hold on to core tradition while also reframing ourselves.” Teece argued that the dynamic capabilities framework offers a useful structure for schools reconsidering their curriculum. As Beedie considers how to into the online and blended learning space, I suggest we can draw inspiration and ideas from Christensen’ s ideas on disruptive innovation and modularization of curriculum and the dynamic capabilities framework as an organizing tool.

4. New Research on Cultural Intelligence and Intercultural Learning
If you are concerned about conflict between privileged and marginalized groups of students at SFU or native and non-native speakers of English, consider reading some Cultural Intelligence (CQ) research by the late Brent MacNab and his colleagues. Valerie Rosenblatt’s presentation at AoM on the group’s latest experiential CQ research offered an empirical model for cross-cultural training that could help students have more positive contact with one another and alter stereotypes they may hold of others.

5. Carnegie Foundation Report on Rethinking Business Education
If you are interested in working with colleagues in other areas in Beedie or across faculty boundaries at SFU, to offer students more integrated, interdisciplinary learning experience, scholars from Columbia and the Copenhagen School of Business facilitated a thought-provoking, fast-paced and frustrating session on the recent Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching report Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education: Liberal Learning for the Professions. It was a pleasure to hear William Sullivan explain the practical framework of modes of thought at the heart of the report and explore the idea that “the social ecology of business” is a threshold concept. On the other hand, the session was frustrating because the philosophical facilitators who followed Sullivan’s talk chose to focus on the theoretical foundations of liberal education rather than the practical and pragmatic implications of the report. The session was though-provoking because Professor Robin Holt shared a memorable example of engaged, integrated learning: At the University of Liverpool, students learn about supply chain management, management history, and ethics by exploring the history of Liverpool’s involvement in the slave trade. I will be interested to read the special issue in Journal of Management Education, which will offer more provocative ideas and viewpoints on the report.

Based on my experience in Boston, I highly recommend attending the AoM meetings if you are interested in pursuing professional development related to teaching and learning, particularly for the first two days of professional development workshops. If you have never attended the AoM meetings before and are planning to attend in Orlando in 2013 for “Capitalism in Question”, check out the programs for first-time attendees.

If you attended AoM or another conference this summer and brought back curricular or pedagogical takeaways that you would like to discuss, I am eager to speak with you. You can reach me at 2-2278, drubeli@sfu.ca or @drubeli.

David Rubeli is the Teaching and Learning Centre educational consultant assigned to work with faculty members and instructors at the Beedie School on curriculum, course design and professional development initiative.