Sunday, August 19, 2007

Elitist communities… or not… ?

Peter Baloh ( my PhD student at the Faculty of Economics at Ljubljana University, Slovenia, posted the following comments at -

The AOM and the AMCIS conferences and my travel there got me thinking… I consider myself lucky to be living in a quite advanced economy, and even by sharing my room with other doctoral students (thanx Israr, Olivier, Yukika), getting funded by I3M and OCIS AOM division, nevertheless this was a costly affair

Why organizers of such big gatherings don’t try to get better deals for flight tickets or accommodation? Why are the registration fees so high? Not many scholars can afford going to these conferences — ECIS, AMCIS, ICIS, AOM, at the end of the day are “a must” if you want to stay connected “in” the community, especially with todays’ pressures to publish, limited tenure positions, etc. Are associations such as AOM and AIS deliberately creating elitist communities?
Of course, the costs for running a conference, are high. However, when I think of the 600-pages-printed programme that each of the 9,000+ registered AOM participants received, and which has no value whatsoever after the meeting, i can see some ten or twenty dollars per participant (=100 or even 200,000$ in aggregate) spared. Not to mention the trees. True, the registration fee was only 60 something $. But the hotel room was 200$ a night. I bet AOM could get much better deals for us. Who of the organizers agreed to ridiculous prices of accomodation?

Also, with 1,7mio$ net profit for this year, why does AOM not fly over and sponsor promising research from developing countries, in example? Well, I am not the only one who thinks something is wrong with this “model” of operations.
Or when I think of the fireworks at the social event at AMCIS, which was held over the Keystone’ Lake on Saturday evening, I can again see some 10 or 20,000$ wasted… Literally blown up :( … If I compare that to my travel budget, maybe 10 people could be flown there for free… or, registration fees could be lowered by 20 or 30$ for each participant, if there was no such show-off…

As researchers and knowledge creators in this world, we should know better… Maybe it would be nice if communities such as AOM or AIS started using their buyer-power to manipulate the places where the conferences are going to be held… And review the location-proposals not only to the spectacularity of the setting and the length of the fireworks, but primarily according to the cost per participant… Moreover, why include profits in those yearly reports at AOM or AMCIS? Are these profit organizations? To me, it would make more sense to aim for increased number of journal papers published, or for decreased costs of travel. Honorable mention obviously goes to Prof Katherine Stewart, who got all the OCIS Doctoral Consortium participants a 500$ travel reimbursement. But not from AOM. She invested her own time to deal with burearocracy of US NSF - National Science Foundation. Job well done! Such things push towards increased knowledge creation, not the fireworks!

… Or am i too naive and it is really “elite only club”?

Here is my response...

Pete –Thanks for these excellent comments. You know my stance on the issues (see I hope we do not become an Elitist community, but all signs indicate that we are…We have done small (really small) things to provide services to the underserved communities, but these are token efforts at best.I hope that some of the young blood in the community, which includes PhD students, will start a revolution to change some of the practices in these associations.As always, let me know if I can help…

Dr. Kevin C. Desouza

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