BAM Conference 2020 report

Our recent Conference in the Cloud was a great success . Going virtual at short notice wasn’t what any of us had wished for, and we decided that we would be unable to simply replicate our normal event online, so we put together a completely new type of more focused gathering for our global community.

As ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ we grasped the opportunity to innovate by asking our tracks to collaborate in preparing cross-disciplinary events, and we hosted a small number of high-level panel discussions and events, and two fascinating keynotes. In a time of global crisis, ‘people’ was the ever present theme. We were privileged to share the thoughts of the legendary Professor Henry Mintzberg, joining us live from his home in Canada, to speak on management in the age of pandemics, and we enjoyed the personal reflections and insight of Professor Laura Empson of City Business School on the importance and re-emergence of Collegiality in these difficult times.

Our BAM College of Fellows presented a rich, informative and wide-ranging panel discussion on Taking Race Seriously, underlining our strategic drive to become a beacon for best practice in Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity and Respect. We looked too at industry and the role of business schools in training future managers to improve workforce health, where we were delighted to be joined by the new CEO of bp, Bernard Looney, Richard Heron his Vice President for Health, as well as Judith Grant, Director of Health & Wellbeing at construction firm MACE, in a session chaired by Andrew Jack of the FT and including our own Founding President, and work and wellbeing guru, Sir Cary Cooper.

Our ever-popular ‘Meet the Editors’ session looked at how to enhance your prospects of publishing you work effectively, and one of our joint track events sought to demystify the reviewing process.  We also ran a professional development workshop on AI and Ethics and the challenges for HRM.

The pandemic context was rarely far away from our discussions. We looked closely at the HRM issues with two panels of academics discussing good work and wellbeing in the workplace, and EDI issues, in the new context; and our Tracks came together to offer a variety of perspectives on the current context, with events on academic identity, leadership and corporate governance, responding to consumer demand, agile responses to crisis, leveraging complementarities to produce innovative research with impact, and practical considerations for the post-Covid liminal space. Archives and the importance of history sparked some encouraging conversations. Many of our tracks included virtual best paper award ceremonies, bringing closer that sense of community.

Networking in cyberspace took the form of a range of virtual coffee chat rooms where delegates could drop in 24/7 or arrange to meet others within their track, and the platform allowed delegates to message and facetime with each other, which was a great way of providing feedback on the ‘treasure chest’ of papers and presentations which were available for all to view throughout the conference. Not quite the same as face to face, but it did allow some engagement from those who might normally have found it difficult for funding or travel reasons.

Our Conference in the Cloud proved immensely popular and unfortunately, we had to put in place a firm cap of 850 attendees for reasons of technical support capability. As a result, some were people unable to join us this year and I am really sorry that this had to be the case. However, we are endeavouring to make the recordings available to all our members, once some unexpected technical hitches in the capture and editing process have been overcome.  We sincerely apologise for the delay in making these available to all members. However, a few items had been pre-recorded and those are available to view, including Professor Laura Empson’s keynote address: Collegiality in the Time of Corona, the BAM Fellows session on 'Taking Race Seriously' and the Grand Conference Opening Address and Award Ceremony presented by our Chair and President, showcasing the Academy’s work over the past year and our exciting plans for the future, as well as our wonderful and worthy award winners.

We will be making the other recordings from the Conference available to all active members of BAM who would like to access them. The videos will be uploaded on the Conference virtual platform and we will be asking members to complete a short form to request the videos. Further details will be sent out shortly. 


Finally – all registered delegates continue to have access to the platform and to the papers and presentations in the Proceedings. Do please continue to read papers, view presentations, and share feedback via the Conference Proceedings at your leisure!

Professor Empson’s keynote is also referred to in an interview with the FT.