26 Sep 2023

BAM2023 Conference - Key Highlights

The 37th Annual Conference, at the University of Sussex and online, attracted a record number of delegates – 1,087, from more than 50 countries.

They attended a 900 paper presentations and 300 events, including keynote panel sessions and professional development workshops, during the four days of the conference.

The event consolidated our use of hybrid technology, with the first day held fully online on 1 September using our conference attendee portal, which functioned efficiently. This enabled participation by delegates who were unable to travel.

For those that came in person from September 4-6, the conference offered an opportunity to meet old friends and to network at social events, such as a tour of a local Ridgeview winery, Shoreham Port, Brighton & Hove Albion AMEX Stadium and Earthship Brighton & Stanmer Park . During the Conference participants had an opportunity to participate in mindfulness sessions and attend an exhibition by local artists.

Professor Katy Mason, the President of BAM, told the conference: “We are such a fantastic community and we’re so strong when we’re working together, especially when we’re working towards our key theme for sustainable futures.”

BAM made a series of awards during the event to celebrate the outstanding contributions made by business and management scholars, not just by their research but also through their important contributions to society more generally.

Among these were three awards given to Professor Nic Beech for his invaluable service to BAM over more than a decade during which he was ineligible for any recognition of his work. Professor Beech was given the one of two Richard Whipp Lifetime Achievement awards, the Cooper Medal for Outstanding Contribution and Leadership, and one award introduced this year – the BAM Medal for Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity and Respect. Professor Rick Delbridge of Cardiff University was also awarded the Richard Whipp Lifetime Achievement Award, the most senior BAM award, for his field-leading work on innovation and organizational learning in addition to his service to the community, including roles within BAM and the ESRC.

Professor Mason told the conference that “today, we celebrate more than 20 years of Professor Nic Beech’s dedication to our Academy and the impact of his work nationally and internationally.

“Nic stepped-up to the BAM leadership at a time when BAM’s future was unclear. He has served as Special Interest Group Chair, Council member, Academy Chair and President.

“Through his leadership he has put BAM onto a sustainable financial footing, restructured and re-energised the leadership, welcomed new intellectual communities into BAM and created a culture where equality, diversity, inclusivity and respect are flourishing. His leadership is without equal.

“Nic, you are a remarkable person, who has given so much to our community, you have made such a significant and positive impact, benefitting so many over the years. Thank you.”

The conference went down well on social media. Dr Evelyn Lanka, of Cranfield University School of Management, tweeted: “What an amazing time at #BAM2023. I have left feeling inspired and intellectually refreshed. I look forward to chairing the conference track again next year!”

Professor Christian Harrison wrote: “Delighted that the much anticipated #BAM2023 conference has commenced today! The virtual sessions have been outstanding! Looking forward to all contributions and the in-person conference.”

The conference was preceded by our Doctoral Symposium, which gave doctoral students a chance to present their work, to network and to get advice and support from more senior colleagues.

BAM’s Chair, Professor Emma Parry, outlined the new five-year strategy that was being developed with key groups within BAM and said that BAM had “a number of ongoing priorities. We are all about promoting excellence in research, education and scholarship. We do that through the conference, we do it through our journals, through our grants schemes, and so on. We’re also about supporting people, supporting academics and supporting business schools, and helping academics to develop their careers regardless of what career stage they’re at.”

The conference ran three keynote sessions. One address featured Professor Tima Bansal, of the Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario, speaking on ‘Disrupting business models’.

She said that finance and economics had failed in the past to recognise the limits to economic growth that current global crises had revealed. “We’re breaching those limits and we can see that in the air, we can see that in the toxicity of soils, we can see that in water, and the accumulation of plastics.”

Business and management scholars should take a systems approach and recognise that everything was interconnected. “In understanding those patterns and nudging systems towards those desirable outcomes, we start to move towards a world that we want to create.

“We can still have the simplicity that we require, but not look for silver bullets, not look for moonshots, but look for incremental changes that will move us to the system that we want to create.” Professor Anita McGahan, of the University of Toronto, also spoke during the keynote.

In the third keynote, Robin Sundaram, Head of Community Regeneration, Nestlé UK, spoke on sustainability for leadership. He said: “We have offices or factories in 81 countries and we have 350,000 staff around the world. So, it’s a global business. We have a big impact in terms of our environmental and social footprint.

“What that means is we’ve got a huge opportunity, if we get it right, to have a big positive impact. For instance, we buy 1% of the world’s agricultural output. So 1% of all agriculture ends up in Nestlé products. If we could work with our farmers on what we call regenerative agriculture then that’s the single biggest thing we can do to improve our overall impact.

“Like most companies, we have focused on growth. It still is the main measure of how a company has performed. But like everyone else, we are realising that we can’t continue on that path and we only have one finite planet. So we have a real challenge as a business to focus on that. As you can imagine, it’s a big job for us but it’s something that we are really committed to.”

Professor Mette Morsing, from UN Global Compact, and Sowmya Parthasarathy, Director, Integrated City Planning at Arup, also spoke at the event. Professor David Teece and Professor Richard Whittington spoke at our Grand Conference Opening keynote: ‘Building a sustainable future: the intertwined role of dynamic capabilities, government and society’. 

We are very grateful for the considerable contribution made by our 2023 host, the University of Sussex Business School. We particularly wish to thank them for the strong support given by their Dean, Professor Steve McGuire, and the generous sponsorship from the Digit Centre, especially for our Doctoral Symposium. We wish to thank the helpful and ever-cheerful volunteers and the Sussex university events team, especially Aristea Markantoni and Wayne Spicer without whom we simply could not have run the event. Finally, of course, we would like to say a huge thank you to our Conference Co-Chairs Professor Vicky Bamiatzi and Dr Marianna Marra for finding such interesting and high profile panellists and for their hard work and dedication to making the BAM conference the great success that it was.

Next year’s annual conference will be held at Nottingham Trent University – all are welcome!

All photos from the BAM2023 Conference can be accessed via our Flickr account.