AOM 2020 FAQ’s as of 7 May 2020
The Board of Governors agreed to make a final decision about the physical meeting no later than 7 May 2020 in order to engage with division and interest group and other program leaders more closely. This decision has significant (and unprecedented) implications for members, divisions and the overall Academy as a community. As of 30 April 2020 the early rounds of engagement with division and interest group and other program leaders have taken place. A survey of members has also been conducted. The Board of Governors is meeting on 7 May 2020 and members will be notified of the decision immediately thereafter.
Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the AOM Board of Governors cancelled the 2020 physical meeting of the Academy of Management, scheduled for 7-11 August 2020 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. A modified virtual meeting is under development. Please see the 7 May letter from AOM President, Jacqueline Coyle-Shapiro, for more information.
The Physical Meeting
The Annual Meeting means a lot of things to a lot of people. It helps AOM to fulfill its central purpose: to build a vibrant and supportive community of scholars by markedly expanding opportunities to connect and explore ideas. The Annual Meeting is a fundamental component of AOM’s identity as an organization and provides members an opportunity to network with colleagues, advance careers, present research findings and applications to practice, explore developments in teaching, and build deep and lasting relationships. The Annual Meeting facilitates connections and encourages intellectual exploration among 10,000+ attendees from nearly 100 countries over 5 days. But right now, countries, universities and members are facing the harsh realities caused by COVID-19. We need to respond to those realities while honoring AOM’s commitments to accepted authors, volunteers and our many members and serving AOM’s purpose.
Two factors were paramount in the Board’s discussion. AOM is, first and foremost, committed to (a) protecting our members’ health and safety and (b) fulfilling our central purpose as a community. Beyond these two driving factors, the Board also considered the financial and legal implications associated with the 2020 AOM Annual Meeting. AOM is a 501c3 US-based non-profit association reliant on registration revenue, membership dues and publishing revenue. AOM signed contracts years ago to host the conference in Vancouver and is financially obligated to conduct the conference. Any decision to host, transform, or cancel a conference the size of AOM 2020 has enormous financial and legal consequences for AOM in both the short- and long-term. That’s why input from divisions and interest groups is so important.
The Executive Committee and Board of Governors met 1-4 April to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the physical AOM Annual Meeting. The Board’s discussions about COVID-19 were deep and multifaceted reflecting the diverse needs (and constraints) of our members around the world. The safety and health of our members stands at the forefront of many complex issues—the fate of the work submitted by thousands of our valued members, the role of the conference in relation to our mission and identity, the capacity of our volunteers and staff, and our long-term sustainability as an organization. Because of these complex factors, the Board decided to engage with divisions and interest groups and other program leaders more closely before making a final decision about the physical meeting no later than 7 May.
The decision date, 7 May, was chosen for two reasons: (a) it allows us to gather more information from relevant stakeholders, including the critical input of the divisions and interest groups into our strategic planning and implementation and (b) it provides members with 90 days to make or change travel plans. Time is needed to consider COVID-19 developments and study how it has impacted our members in their home countries and institutions. We are also using this time to get a 2020 Annual Meeting Task Force up and running, as it is clear that at least part of the conference will need to be delivered virtually.
The 2020 Annual Meeting Task Force is charged with developing strategies for adding virtual components into our 2020 program that would enhance and augment our traditional physical face-to-face activities and to strengthen us and provide a base on which to build if we are unable to come together in August. What is clear right now is that, no matter what the situation may be in August, many of our colleagues will be unable to travel to Canada because of government travel restrictions, university funding constraints and travel restrictions, or changes in their personal and family responsibilities. This creates a strategic imperative for AOM to find a way to engage these members of our community. The 2020 Annual Meeting Task Force is currently headed by Herman Aguinis, Quinetta Roberson and Amy Hillman. The Task Force has teams within it, a Virtual Component Team (led by AOM member Christopher Tucci), a Communications Team (led by AOM President Jacqueline Coyle-Shapiro) and a Technology Team (under development).
Postponement was considered by the Board of Governors but was eliminated because it was not a viable option. There are simply no feasible open dates that provide AOM access to the needed facilities later in 2020 or even early into 2021. Moving further into 2021 impinges on school calendars, member obligations and the scholarly communication cycle for authors to submit their work to journals.
This really isn’t feasible. Our members use the conference to present new, cutting-edge research findings. The AOM Annual Meeting is an opportunity to receive feedback on that work so it can be submitted for publication and reach external stakeholders who can act on the research findings. By August 2021, many of the authors of papers submitted to AOM 2020 will want to have their research under review at a journal and well on the way to publication.
Vancouver is an incredible host to AOM. Vancouver is also one of the most attractive conference locations for AOM and other associations which makes it difficult to secure for a meeting of our size and scale. The AOM Annual Meeting is considered a citywide conference and therefore must be booked seven to ten years in advance. We are contractually bound to the city of Philadelphia in 2021 and to other cities through 2028.
While it may be technically feasible to host the entire conference virtually, we are doing this for the first time and there is simply insufficient time and other resources for a full redesign. In addition, AOM is a volunteer-run organization. AOM’s volunteers are faculty, PhD students and scholar-practitioners with professional obligations at their schools, colleges and institutions. Our priority is to support our volunteer culture and honor the obligations and commitments of those who have submitted their work and put in countless hours to prepare AOM 2020. Unlike a top-down driven company, AOM is member-driven and reliant on the labor and input of our global volunteers.
Therefore, we cannot “go virtual” with the entire program, nor can we simultaneously deliver a full-blown physical conference alongside a virtual one in 2020. However, in a context that is unparalleled, we could deliver some key parts of the 2020 program virtually – although they may be delivered in an unusual and experimental way. It’s not going to be perfect and perhaps the quirkiness will help to develop our agility and strengthen our community’s ties. A subgroup of the 2020 Annual Meeting Task Force, the Virtual Component Team, is exploring the virtual possibilities now with the input of divisions and interest groups and other program leaders.
At this time, there are many questions such as “What sessions might be offered virtually?” “Will we use Zoom or another platform?” “Will they be synchronous or asynchronous?” “What about time zones?” “Will sessions run during the time frame of the AOM Annual Meeting?”
These challenging questions are being tackled by the Virtual Component Team of the 2020 Annual Meeting Task Force, taking in feedback from the divisions and interest groups and other program leaders. We don’t have the answers now, but we are working on them.
Divisions and interest groups and other program volunteers have already invested significant effort in reviewing the incredible work that has been accepted for participation in the 2020 AOM Annual Meeting program. These volunteers are deep into considering what they might offer virtually. The Virtual Component Team of the 2020 Annual Meeting Task Force is taking in all of their feedback and will work to create cohesive virtual components across all divisions and interest groups.
The Annual Meeting program honors the hard work of submitters, reviewers, and volunteers. A final AOM 2020 program enables authors to cite their work as accepted for and as refereed through AOM’s usual processes. The AOM 2020 program is essential, whether individual sessions are delivered through a traditional physical mechanism or innovative virtual mechanisms. We are enormously grateful to all AOM volunteers who are pulling together to produce the AOM 2020 program!
Vancouver and Canada
Vancouver, like many other cities, is under government restrictions. Mass gatherings of greater than 50 people are currently banned. The Vancouver Convention Centre has been converted to a hospital to treat non-COVID-19 patients. Many hotels are closed and many of the hotel and convention employees have been furloughed. As of 30 April, the Canadian border with the U.S. is closed. The Canadian Government has banned non-essential travel to Canada until further notice and is not processing visas for international visitors.
The Canadian Government has paused application processing for international visitors that require a visa until 30 June 2020. While you can still apply for a visa, it is unlikely the application will be processed prior to 30 June.
At present, mass gatherings of greater than 50 are prohibited in Vancouver until 30 May 2020. Further information should be available after the expiration of the order on mass gatherings on 30 May. AOM will adhere to government regulations to ensure the health and safety of members and take advantage of all additional precautionary measures implemented by hotels and conference facilities.