BAM 2023 Conference

Towards Disruptive Sustainability: New Business Opportunities and Challenges

British Academy of Management (BAM) 37th Annual Conference logo with host institution, University of Sussex Business School

It was an honour to host the British Academy of Management’s 37th Annual Conference here at the University of Sussex Business School on 1-6 September 2023. Over 1000 delegates from more than 50 countries joined us in-person and online for this major event!

Within the wide-ranging theme, ‘Towards Disruptive Sustainability: New Business Opportunities and Challenges’, the exciting programme included presentations of over 900 papers across more than 300 sessions and activities. As pioneers in the study of innovation management and policy, our School and surrounding green, sustainable campus was a prime setting for #BAM2023. Renowned scholars and practitioners led discussions exploring the links between disruption, innovation, and sustainability across an impressive range of global contexts. These ranged from the emerging role of artificial intelligence to the adjustment of global value chains, and to worldwide challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Large crowd of attendees in lecture hall listening to keynote presentation

A full house for #BAM2023 Day Two Keynote

Conference co-chairs, Professor Vasiliki Bamiatzi and Dr Marianna Marra, kicked off BAM 2023’s first fully virtual day on Friday 1 September. This was marked by a Keynote Panel on ‘Disruptive Business Models: Strategies and Policy’ with Professor Tima Bansal, from the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Business School, and Professor Anita McGahan, from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Chaired by Professor Andrew Davies from the School's Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), the panel considered business challenges, as well as systems change and new stakeholder theory, in dealing with the climate crisis and sustainable human activity.

On campus activity began on Monday 4 September with the BAM 2023 Doctoral Symposium hosted in collaboration with the Digital Futures at Work Research Centre (Digit). The centre studies how digital technologies are changing work and its impact on employers, workers and their representatives, jobseekers, and governments. As co-leads of Digit, it was a privilege for us to welcome over 160 delegates to our campus for the Symposium. Multiple guest speakers gave presentations relating to early, mid- and late-stage doctoral students on topics such as management research, getting published and preparing for the viva. Doctoral students presented on their research and took part in workshops and networking activities. The day closed with a BAM Fellows Q&A on developing an academic career chaired by Professor Graeme Currie, along with an Awards Ceremony and Doctoral Symposium dinner.

Speakers David Teece and Richard Whittington sat with conference co-chair Vasiliki Bamiatzi taking Q&As

Speaker's Prof Richard Whittington & Prof David Teece answer audience questions

Conference Day 2 saw various parallel sessions exploring a wide range of topics within tracks like decision-making amidst uncertainty, international business and management, and African studies, among others. Professor Steven McGuire, Dean of the Business School, introduced the Grand Conference Opening and Awards Ceremony, followed by the conference co-chairs. It was a privilege to welcome Professor David Teece from University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business alongside Professor Richard Whittington from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School for a thought-provoking Keynote on ‘Building a Sustainable Future: The Intertwined Role of Dynamic Capabilities, Government and Society’. The speakers shared their invaluable experience and intellect on the practical challenges for businesses and the government in tackling the grand challenges ahead, and what is required from each stakeholder to achieve a sustainable future in practice.

Chair in conversation with speakers of BAM2023 Day Three Plenary at front of large lecture hall

Day 3 Plenary on Leadership for Sustainability

Fruitful discussions continued into Day 3 with paper session tracks covering topics such as entrepreneurship, cultural and creative industries, and operations, logistics and supply chain management. Alongside parallel sessions, Special Interest Group (SIG) meetings and developmental paper workshops, we were thrilled to welcome three guests to the stage for a Keynote Panel on ‘Leadership for Sustainability’ chaired by Dr Zahira Jaser (Management, Business School).

Bringing together the United Nations Global Compact’s Professor Mette Morsing, Nestlé UK and Ireland’s Robin Sundaram and Arup’s Sowmya Parthasarathy, the panel explored the nuanced meaning of sustainability in practice. Each speaker provided their own perspective as leaders operating in different contexts: academia, global food sourcing and urban planning; considering the opportunities and challenges of embedding sustainability into corporate agendas. Each plenary session was captured by artist Raquel Durán who produced live illustrations based on the session themes.

In the words of Professor Vasiliki Bamiatzi:

“One of the most striking aspects of the conference was the diversity of perspectives and ideas that emerged. Delegates from different cultures and backgrounds brought unique insights, fostering a rich exchange of knowledge and experiences. It was truly eye-opening to witness the global unity in addressing the critical issues surrounding sustainability. The high-profile keynote speakers elevated the conference to new heights. Their wisdom and expertise provided invaluable insights into the challenges and opportunities we face in achieving a sustainable future. Their compelling talks, an inspiration to us all to apprehend the urgency of our collective efforts and take immediate action.”

Close up of artist Raquel Durán as she works on vivid live illustration of keynote session

Live illustration by Raquel Durán

In addition to the academic programme, delegates took advantage of a range of social activities showcasing the distinctive local organisations embracing sustainability and innovation. While the Sussex Mindfulness Centre, part of the NHS Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust, opened conference days 1 and 2 with morning mindfulness sessions on campus and Brighton beach, Brighton-based artists Julia-Ann Field and Natasha Owen exhibited their colourful depictions of environmental themes and the surrounding Sussex landscape. Illustrator ArtyMikey was present during breaks to provide live illustrations of delegates, much to their enjoyment! Social tours were also provided by local sites including award-winning Ridgeview Wine Estate, the Premier League Amex Community Football Stadium, sustainable Shoreham Port, and Brighton Earthship, a radical eco-home nestled within the nearby Stanmer Park, at the foot of the scenic South Downs.

We look forward to the BAM2024 Conference which will be hosted by Nottingham Trent University on the theme, ‘Achieving transformation for greater good: Societal, organisational and personal barriers and enablers’.