Katharina Dittrich (University of Zurich)
Maneuvering through the largest management conference worldwide can be daunting task for PhD students and other first-timers, but focusing on a few essentials may help you to make your way through the conference jungle: (1) pre-conference workshops (so-called PDWs), (2) symposia and (3) business meetings and informal receptions.
PDWs are a great opportunity to engage in intensive, even one-to-one discussions with senior scholars (e.g. the SAP Paper Development Workshop), to meet your peers and realize they face the same anxieties and fears as you (e.g. the OMT Doctoral Consortium) and to get a sense of where particular research fields are heading (e.g. “New Directions in Research on Strategizing Activities and Practice“). Remember to look for and register early for PDWs as some of them require a separate application and have deadlines as early as mid-May.
During the main conference, focus on symposia because they offer greater coherency between the presentations and often assemble a number of leading scholars in a particular field, so it is easier for you to find the group of scholars you want to talk to.
However, don’t get too caught up in the conference schedule and make sure you attend a number of business meetings and receptions (e.g. the SAP Business Meeting and Party). Enjoy the delicious food and drinks, relax and suddenly you may find yourself engaged in a discussions with scholars you have always wanted to talk to.
Some last words of practical advice. Consider staying in an apartment with other PhD students because it is lighter on your travel budget and simply more fun. Make sure to bring warm clothes for the conference, unless you feel comfortable in the fridge-like temperatures of American air-conditioning. And finally, don’t forget to take the opportunity to do some sightseeing and go to Disneyland next year.