WAM 2020:

Subversive Creativity

WAM 2020 Cancelled ​

Dear WAMers,

At an emergency meeting of the WAM Executive Board this morning, we decided that we cannot go ahead with the conference scheduled for next week. This is disappointing for all of us, but in the circumstances we came to feel we had no option. The number of colleges and universities imposing travel bans increases by the hour, and our numbers and our program would be very seriously depleted. We recognize that those bans and the cancellation of many sporting and public events reflect a concern that the spread of the COVID-19 virus can be hastened by travel and social gatherings, and in the interests of the health of members and the wider public we feel we must contribute to reducing those factors.

We know this decision will impose inconvenience, and quite possibly costs, in terms of cancelling travel arrangements and accommodation. We hope that the broadening willingness of airlines and hotels to be flexible about cancellations will make things easier, but we know there will be inconvenience at least. We are also bearing the cost of a good deal of work that has already gone into the conference. We can only ask that these be accepted as contributing to the welfare of our organization, and of the wider public. Unfortunately, the contract with the hotel leaves us with liability not only for the banquet and facilities costs; but, also for the rooms you would normally have paid for. Therefore, please bear with us while we try to negotiate a settlement with the Hotel; then we can take into the overall costs and develop an appropriate policy in the light of that 

We are actively pursuing possibilities of rescheduling the conference to later in the year, or conducting it in some virtual format, and we will be consulting with our membership on options like these. In true WAM spirit, we hope you can support us with your continued patience and understanding.

WAM Executive Board


There is a saying in Hawaiian: Ua Kuluma Ke Kanaka I Ke Aloha (It Is Natural For People To Behave In a Loving Way). The assumption is that this loving way doesn’t just embrace our fellow humans, but the land and the whole of creation in which we are embedded. But we are facing crises that come out of our not behaving in a loving way toward other human beings and the creation. We are facing serious social and ecological crises. Discussions of climate change and inequality are everywhere.


There is a growing sense that the way we often do business, and the way we often teach business, may contribute to these problems and do not help us to behave in a loving way. For instance, they seem to be built on the assumption that more choice and more stuff is always better. But a whole area of research on happiness and well-being shows that past a certain modest point, having more material stuff doesn't make us happier. In fact, it suggests there is a point in accumulating things that our happiness decreases. It is time that we – as organizational scholars – start to re-imagine ways of thinking about success and the purpose of business organizations in a way that builds on an instinct to behave in a loving way: to foster human and ecological well-being. We need to find creative ways of subverting the assumptions that mislead us.


  • How do we build organizations that build on the best in our human natures?


  • Can we design meaningful jobs that align with people’s values, community and respect nature?


  •  What can we learn from workplace democracy designs?

  • What role can entrepreneurship play in creating products and services that are needed and not just wanted?


  • How can we foster long term investments aimed at well-being and not just getting more things in the short-term and increase exploitation?

  • How do we take a more holistic approach to teaching entrepreneurship, marketing, international business that considers society and nature?

  • How can we organize and conduct our organizational life to recover the idea that humans have a healthy instinct to co-operate, act in solidarity and identify our success with the success of others?

  • Can we recognize places where positive things are happening to make human relations and relations with nature better, and can we build on them?

  • What can we learn from other cultures- including ancestral ones – about ways of living, producing and consuming?

  • What kind of leadership do we need?

  • What kind of assumptions do we need to subvert?


This could be the big challenge of our time, and the WAM spirit is a good place to begin in responding to it!

Submission of papers: NOW CLOSED

© 2019 Western Academy of Management

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