In August, I attended the 77th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management (AOM) in Atlanta, Georgia. This is the premier conference for students, academics, scholars, and professionals in the scholarly management and organization space. If you teach or do research on management, this was the place to be! For five days, the attendees went to symposia, presentations, and caucuses on the theme “At the Interface.” At any one time, over 50 sessions were taking place. In all, 10,751 participants from 88 countries attended 2,177 sessions.
As a first-time attendee, I felt like a kid in a candy store. I was astounded by the breadth and depth of topics that management scholars studied. I spent hours trying to choose the sessions I would attend. A number of sessions tackled new ways of ensuring student learning and engagement: Hogwarts School of Leadership and Team-Based Learning: Using Pop Culture and Team to Engage Students; Creating Rich Learning Outcomes: Multimedia Cases and Student Engagement; Engaging Students in the Digital Age through Experiential Cases; and Developing Publishable Cases. Other sessions spoke to my research interests and strengthened my research and teaching advocacies: Innovating for CSR and Sustainability, and Transformation Curricula: Encouraging Students to Reflect on Meaning, Purpose, Values, Life Goals, Spirituality, and Sustainability.
It was also my opportunity to meet face to face colleagues whom I’d met only virtually. Over the past year, I had joined a United Nations Principles for Responsible Education (PRME) Working Group on the Sustainability Mindset. Through this working group, I met faculty from several countries who have also taken on the challenge of teaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in very creative ways. From incorporating art and nature into classroom work, to encouraging students to engage the bottom of the pyramid, these faculty members are truly at the forefront of sustainability education.
Through this working group, I was invited to be part of a symposium during the AOM conference. The topic was “What if the Dream World of Business Already Existed?” In this dream world, business and the academe interface to unite profit with products and services that address real global needs, now framed under the SDG agenda. This new business model would ensure a truly sustainable world. The faculty, coming from Nigeria, Russia, Canada, India, the USA, and the Philippines, shared their experiences as they introduced the SDGs and a different economic model to their students, and the impact the model had on their audiences. I was particularly impressed by the way Dr. Henrietta Onwuegbuzie of the Lagos Business School challenged her students to start a business with an initial capital of $30 that would address an SDG while helping micro-entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
For my part, I happily shared three social enterprises that had been interviewed by my Leadership in Organization students. The first, Southeast Metro Arts, specializes in “taking products that came out of tragedy and converting them into something beneficial and something the market would want.” The company’s founder used ash from Mt. Pinatubo’s catastrophic eruption to create beautiful decorative pieces. The second, Akaba, makes products, such as bags, that incorporate local weaves into their designs, thus augmenting the income of tribal weavers and encouraging the next generation to learn and continue this tradition. The third company, Kawil Tours, works to erase the stigma of Culion, a former leper colony, by showing the world that this island is a wonderful destination to experience. After my presentation, several attendees approached me to ask more questions about Culion. I hope my talk inspires some of the attendees to visit the Philippines.
Attending conferences like AOM is a wonderful experience for educators. It provides not only new knowledge and contacts, but also opportunities to share our own research and interests. And the international community is very interested in what Philippine academics are doing. While it was unfortunate that only three Filipino educators attended this year’s conference, all the sessions the three of us participated in were very well-attended, and several attendees expressed great interest in our presentations.
I encourage my colleagues in the academe to try to attend next year’s conference, which will be held in Chicago. The 2018 theme is “Improving Lives,” and asks: How can organizations contribute to the betterment of society through elevating the health and well-being of those who live in it? For my part, I plan to do research to answer the following questions: How does management education positively impact the health and well-being of students and contribute to improving the lives of vulnerable groups in society? What role should management education play in promoting the health of the planet and the lives of its people?
Interested? Please contact me. Let’s continue the conversation.
Pia T. Manalastas is an Assistant Professor at the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. She is on sabbatical leave and is finishing her dissertation and researching on the role of management education to ensure sustainability.