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why sociology grad students should present at aom

I’ve been attending the Academy of Management meetings since 2005, my first year as an assistant professor, and I’ve been going ever since.  One reason I started going was because I suddenly had more travel money and I figured I might as well spend it by going to Hawaii (not a hard decision). But after my first experience there I realized that I should have been attending as a grad student too. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t on my radar. I think most sociology grad students are like that and don’t really know what the Academy has to offer. Here’ s my plug for why sociology grad students studying organizations, work and professions, or economic sociology ought to attend.

  • Opportunities to present your research. The number one reason for attending AOM is that they have more sessions on organizations-related topics. If your work is of reasonable quality, there’s a good chance that you’ll present in a session and not a roundtable. Because the organizers have so many more accepted papers, the sessions tend to be more-or-less coherent too. There is a strong likelihood that you’ll end up in a session with other scholars with a great deal of theoretical or substantive overlap.
  • Immediate feedback. The Academy reviews every paper that is submitted. Like a journal submission, your paper will be sent to three anonymous scholars in your area of study who will give feedback on your work. I was delighted by this aspect of the Academy since nothing close to this happens at ASA. Each section picks its best papers and publishes them online in the official proceedings of the conference (a great CV line for a grad student). So if for no other reason, you should submit to the Academy meetings because it gives you a great opportunity to get early feedback on your research project.
  • Finding your crowd. The Academy’s Organizational and Management Theory section is a lot like the economic sociology section of the ASA, only bigger and more intellectually diverse. If you read ASQ or Organization Science, then you know the players. I was surprised to find so many of the same groups of people in both locations. If the conferences don’t overlap, you can spend two weeks in a row cavorting with many of the same scholars.
  • Networking. Because the Academy has more organizational scholars, you can expand your network greatly by hanging out at receptions, going to sessions, or just running into people in the halls. It’s also a great place to meet other grad students interested in similar substantive or theoretical topics who you wouldn’t normally meet simply because they’re trained in a business school setting rather than in a sociology department.
  • Professional development. One of the great functions of the Academy meetings is a system they’ve created to promote the professional development of graduate students. The first couple of days of the conference includes professional development workshops (PDWs), some of which are specifically designed to socialize grad students in particular areas of scholarship. Eminent scholars in the field, many of whom are trained as sociologists, talk to students about how to publish your research, how to manage your career, etc. You’ll need to get your department’s or advisor’s endorsement to attend but definitely try be involved in one.
  • Great receptions. Let’s face it, the food at the AOM receptions is much, much better than what you’re used to at ASA. In addition to the official AOM receptions you need to attend some of the department parties. Open bars are pretty common.

So, the biggest downside is money and potential competition with the ASA meetings. My advice to you would be to try to find travel grants to help pay for the trip. If the conference is held in a proximate location, the decision to attend is much easier. Find some grad students from the business school who are attending and see if you can room with them. Once you’re there, you can almost survive on a diet of cheap lunches and reception food.

Written by brayden king

August 18, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Posted in academia, brayden

7 Responses

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  1. The question now is, why don’t soc. grads present at AOM—is it possible that money and agenda reasons alone explain it, or is there something about the “Managment” word that bothers them, perhaps?

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    Fr.

    August 18, 2010 at 7:04 pm

  2. When I was a graduate student, I didn’t know about AoM. PhD programs tend to cloister people, myself included.

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    fabiorojas

    August 18, 2010 at 8:55 pm

  3. Also, the networking at AOM is quite a bit more hardcore than ASA. If sociologists tend to be (charmingly) clueless, AOM participants are not. This can be off-putting for some sociologists.

    Still worth it. Go under the wing of an advisor who you like and who is connected.

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    Peter

    August 18, 2010 at 9:16 pm

  4. Also, the networking at AOM is quite a bit more hardcore than ASA. If sociologists tend to be (charmingly) clueless, AOM participants are not.

    Sociologists are up there with the best of them when it comes to in-groupish, cliquey behavior. (I think we invented the terms, after all.) Nevertheless, your description makes AOM sound positively repellent. I hope it’s an exaggeration. It reminds me of that footnote in Structural Holes about how a wholly strategic orientation to one’s contacts is a form of interpersonal flatulence from which people can only be expected to flee.

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    Kieran

    August 18, 2010 at 11:04 pm

  5. I don’t find the networking at AOM to be that different than what you see at the ASA meetings, but my perspective is probably biased by the social circles I sample from. The OMT (Organization and Management Theory) division of AOM has a great deal of overlap with the Economic Sociology section of ASA, and so the norms and styles of interaction are pretty similar. PhD students tend to be strategic, but not any more strategic than the average sociology PhD student looking for a job.

    I think if you wander outside of the OMT division and get into the more practitioner-oriented crowd, the sociability would change remarkably. From an outsider’s perspective it seems more polished.

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    brayden king

    August 19, 2010 at 12:29 am

  6. Well, sure Brayden, your experience is going to Eggs ‘n Things with me in Hawaii – which was lovely, and not flatulent at all. But the academic OMT crowd is comparatively small at AOM (even the Econ Soc group at ASA is already not quite like the OOW or Sex & Gender or Culture crowd, and I’m in all of those).

    I’m am decidedly not an outsider, but it’s still pretty much suits and strategy to me. Again, I still go sometimes, and encourage participation. I would strongly suggest students try out EGOS (for orgs), AAA (anthro meetings, which like AOM has ind paper as well as session proposals), regional meetings, smaller more focused conferences, etc.

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    Peter

    August 19, 2010 at 1:50 am

  7. […] is a great place to dive into org. theory and get a taste of a variety of organizational research (see my past post on why I like AOM).  One negative thing about AOM though is that it is really big and it can be […]

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