by Melissa R. Medaugh
If you’ve ever attended an AOM annual meeting, you may have felt a bit overwhelmed. The sheer number of conference attendees and opportunities to hear about the newest and greatest research can leave students, in particular, wondering about the “machine” that enables the Academy to function at peak capacity. As a student member in the Entrepreneurship Division, I’ve often wondered who and what is behind the curtain. Who plans the massive annual meetings and manages what must be hundreds of conference submissions through the review process? Who are the decision makers and how do they make decisions? What decisions do they make?
In January, the Entrepreneurship Division’s executive board met in Germany for the Mid-Winter Meeting (MWM). The MWM is meant to review plans for the annual meeting, get updates from all the committees that comprise the “machine,” clarify processes related to division elections and award presentations, discuss fundraising efforts, and work on workshop ideas that bring the division closer to its five-year goals. As the Student Representative, I had a seat at the conference table on behalf of our student members. Student membership represents around 20% of the division, so a major theme of the MWM was student engagement. It seems only natural, then, that I report back to our student members through The StudENT column. Below, I highlight some of the discussions we had at the MWM that may be of particular interest to our student members.
The Entrepreneurship Division’s Doctoral Consortium has grown to become a highly successful event that helps meet the Division’s goals of student engagement. The consortium is a wonderful way for students to get connected to peers and scholars whose research we’ve been reading throughout our doctoral studies. Consortium applicants who are later in their studies (e.g., post-comps) tend to be given higher admission priority. I attended last summer and can’t say enough good things about the experience. Some of the primary benefits to consortium participants include opportunities to hear and ask questions about the nitty gritty of academic life, especially early career life; techniques for balancing research and teaching; publishing research in top entrepreneurship journals; and managing the hiring process.
Consortium participants also have many opportunities to interact with highly prolific, and surprisingly approachable, senior scholars. Senior scholars read participants’ working papers and offer individual feedback. They also attend the consortium social and graciously welcome conversation with student members. Their dedication to shaping the next generation of successful entrepreneurship scholars is obvious. Because last year’s consortium was held before the division’s business meeting and other division socials, I recognized more people and felt more connected and engaged at those later events. Indeed, the conference felt smaller in a way; more manageable, more personal, and easier to navigate.
The Division’s doctoral and early career consortia require substantial planning and willingness from more senior scholars to volunteer time to coordinate, process applications, prepare and make presentations, and generally make themselves available to participants. At the MWM, board members were updated about the consortia chairs’ progress. The board also discussed the possibility of increasing the number of students admitted this year. Stay tuned for the call for consortia applications later this spring.
The MWM also focused on awards that the Entrepreneurship Division offers. The board discussed prestigious awards that honor recent graduates (e.g., dissertation awards), as well as awards for which doctoral students are eligible (e.g., paper awards, reviewer awards). Discussions revolved around increasing knowledge about these awards to encourage more nominations, including how they are adjudicated. Here I review a few of these awards that doctoral students, in particular, may want to put on their radar. I draw from the Division’s website in these descriptions.
The Entrepreneurship Division offers two dissertation awards that honor outstanding doctoral research. The Heizer Dissertation Award and the NFIB Dissertation Award are open to “individuals who completed all the requirements for a doctoral degree (excepting ceremonies) in the prior year.” Yearly calls from the Division solicit nominations from members, including self-nominations. The Division’s Chair-Elect and a committee of accomplished scholars reviews each application to identify top nominees and, ultimately, choose award winners. Each dissertation award is sponsored by a generous donor who provides a cash prize to awardees. Awardees also receive special recognition at the annual meeting.
In addition to dissertation awards, all division members, including doctoral students, can earn awards when submitting to and reviewing papers for the annual meeting. Reviewing is a valuable service that contributes to the veracity and advancement of our science, while also providing reviewers the opportunity to identify new and exciting research trends in our field. AOM has many resources available online for new and less experienced reviewers, which helps reduce ambiguity about what reviews should entail and sets the tone for constructive feedback. Additionally, upon submitting comments about each paper, reviewers can read other reviewers’ comments about the same paper, which provides an excellent opportunity to compare our reviews to those of more experienced scholars. At the 2017 annual meeting, doctoral students received 40% of the Best Reviewer awards! At the MWM, Prof. Dawn DeTienne, Program Chair, reported that doctoral students comprised over a third of the reviewer base for this year’s annual meeting. One doctoral student was assigned per submission. For more information on any of these awards, as well as best paper awards, check out the Division’s new website via AOM Connect: https://connect.aom.org/ent/home.
AOM Connect Resources
The board also discussed ways to engage doctoral students through the many tools available via the Division’s new website. One idea floated was a dedicated “Doctoral Student” webpage, which would include videos of speakers at the doctoral and early career consortia and other content useful to student members. The website may also include research and teaching podcasts and/or videos, which could prove to be invaluable resources for all members. Additionally, the ENT listserv has now migrated to AOM Connect. Through this discussion board, Division members have access to calls for conference and journal submissions, as well as job opportunities. Be sure to update your profile and communication preferences. Stay tuned for many more exciting resources coming soon.
One of the salient themes of the MWM involved how to increase mentorship opportunities for student members around the world. At this year’s annual meeting, the Division will once again pair doctoral consortium participants with more senior scholars for a paper development session. The board is also looking to extend this mentorship opportunity to a group of student members who are not participating in the consortium. Another idea that gained traction for future implementation was a mentorship program that partners students with more advanced scholars, based on a range of needs and synergies. The board selected a task force to brainstorm and evaluate options to bring such a program to fruition, including ways to use technologies to facilitate a matching process and details on what participants could expect. As the board continues to advance all these opportunities, stay tuned!
I conclude this brief by reflecting on the genuine effort each board member made during the MWM to consider the needs and desires of all Division stakeholders. From doctoral students to scholars at early, mid, and late career stages to Division sponsors, the board strove in earnest to consider all perspectives when planning August’s annual meeting and proposing initiates to meet the Division’s future goals. The board’s dedication to the doctoral student membership was reflected in my presence at the meeting and their warmth in welcoming me, as well as the many hours we spent discussing current and new opportunities for connecting, engaging, and recognizing the next generation of scholars.
Until next time, happy researching!