A couple of correspondents have noticed (and commented!) that my dispatches from the ANZAM conference, held in Hobart 4-6 Dec, appeared to be incomplete because the last dispatch posted covered the keynote at the beginning of the second day. Indeed, this is correct. Most of the leadership and governance papers that I was interested in were presented on the first day. I spent much of the second day in one-on-one discussions with other researchers, exploring ideas that had been presented earlier in the conference, and testing a few ideas of my own. This proved to be a very valuable albeit more private time for me, because I was able to correct a few assumptions and misunderstandings, and get some additional clarity on some concepts that I didn't grasp well when they were first presented.
One session that proved to be very interesting was the interactive session on management education and the rise of MOOCs (massively open online courses). This new concept, of an entire course of material delivered online has caught the attention of many. The concept sounds great on paper, particularly to extend reach. However, the delivery model is not without its challenges (no opportunity to interact with others to thrash out ideas on a whiteboard, for example), and the financial model needs work (currently, access is free). Notwithstanding these points, the concept has merit as a delivery model alongside others. MOOCs should not be regarded as a panacea to replace the traditional (though high-cost) classroom learning model, as some have suggested.
Overall, the conference met my expectations. It was well-organised, with plenty of opportunity to interact with other delegates. However, the quality of the papers was lower than I expected. Some described some simply outstanding pieces of research, but, many others were straightforward reports of statistical analyses of readily available data. Papers in this category lacked any insightful commentary to assist future research, or help managers improve their performance in the field. In my opinion, some of these papers should have been rejected at the review stage. A smaller collection of higher quality papers makes for a better conference. If this shortcoming can be addressed, then the appeal, relevance and usefulness of ANZAM—to researchers and managers alike—will be enhanced I'm sure.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and effective board practice; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.