Inside the black box of boards’ decision making

Board research: An international conference
Inside the black box of boards’ decision making
May 14-15, 2020
School of Business and Economics
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

We are excited to invite submissions for a bi-annual international conference on Boards Research that will take place in Amsterdam on May 14-15, 2020. This research conference brings together researchers from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives who seek to advance the understanding of how the decision-making processes of boards and executive committees shape the future of organizations. A selected number of papers will be invited for a publication in an edited book and/or a Special Issue of a journal.

Recent corporate governance scandals drew much attention to what takes place in the boardroom and raised many questions to understand why board of directors, who are responsible to monitor firms, were not able to prevent organizational collapses. While much research exists on board governance, little is known about the actual interactions, deliberations and decision-making processes in the boardroom. Given that boards’ performance "output" is largely dialogical and cognitive in nature, for this conference we seek papers that adopt discourse or rhetorical analysis, phenomenological, psychological and reflexive approaches to the study of boards. Specifically, we invite papers that address the question: In what ways can a combination of corporate governance, leadership, communication and cognition research that utilizes diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives enhance our understanding of how non-executives and executives interact and make decisions?

Next to addressing this question, the conference will also create a forum for researchers to discuss how to study boards and executive committees, especially when the access to the boards is very limited, and when researchers don’t have easy access to explore what happens in the boardroom. This discussion will be kicked off with a keynote speech by Professor Ann Cunliffe on reflexive research methodologies.

Papers can address the following topics: 
  • How can critical approaches, theories and concepts contribute to unpacking the constitutive and transformative role of communication and dialogue between board members and their stakeholders?
  • How can governance power and authority be studied from communicative, institutional, neo-institutional, organizational and rhetorical standpoints?
  • How does time, legacy, historical consciousness affect board room processes?
  • How do differences in experience of executives and non-executives of both the company and the operation of the board itself, affect the quality and effectiveness of board interaction, dialogue and decision-making?
  • How do faultlines, boundary work and diversities (executive – non-executive; expert – non-expert; independent – non-independent; gender, etc.) affect the quality and effectiveness of board interaction, dialogue and decision-making?
  • “What psychodynamic undercurrents exist that are inherent to decision-making processes of board members?”
  • How do instruments, i.e. artificial intelligence, big data, codes and rules shape boards’ interactions and decisions?
  • How can governance cognition and communication transform organization and society?
  • How does the idea that communication is constitutive of organizations change the way we may address issues of power and authority in organizations?
  • To what extent is power integral to the organization–communication relationship?
  • How does coaching, education and other intervention shape board member and board performance?

Key note speaker
Cunliffe, AnnWe are honored that this year the key-note speaker is Professor Ann Cunliffe. Ann Cunliffe is a Professor of Organization Studies at FGV-EAESP in Brazil. She worked previously at the Universities of Leeds (UK), Bradford (UK), New Mexico (USA), New Hampshire (USA) and California State University (USA). She is also a Visiting Professor at Università Cattolica del S. Cuore, Milano, Italy, Aalborg University, Denmark, and at the University of Bath, UK. Ann’s current research interests lie at the intersection of organizational studies, philosophy and communications, exploring how leaders and managers shape organizational life, identities and action in living conversations. In particular, she is interested in examining the relationship between language and collaborative, responsive and ethical ways of managing organizations. Other interests include: leadership; self-work; sensemaking; developing reflexive approaches to research, practice and learning; and supporting non-positivist qualitative research. Her recent publications include four books, two of which are A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book about Management (2014) and the co-authored Key Concepts in Organization Theory with John Luhman (2012). She recently co-edited the Sage Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods (2018). She has published articles in Organizational Research Methods, Human Relations, Management Learning, the British Journal of Management, and Organization Studies. In 2002 she was awarded the Breaking the Frame Award from the Journal of Management Inquiry for ‘the article that best exemplifies a challenge to existing thought’ and in 2016 the Lasting Impact Award from OBTS and Sage Publications for "On Becoming a Critically Reflexive Practitioner” (2004).

She is ranked 17 in the top 54 most published authors from 1998-2017 in Organizational Research Methods. Ann is Associate Editor at the British Journal of Management and was Co-Editor-in-Chief of Management Learning for 7 years. She organizes the biennial Qualitative Research in Management and Organization Conference in New Mexico, USA.

Submission Information: DEADLINE 15 February, 2020
The abstracts submission deadline is February 15, 2020.
Full papers submission is May 1, 2020.
The programme will be announced in March 2020.

Submission Guidelines

Authors are invited to submit abstracts of 1000 words. Please click here to submit your abstract.

Each presenter will have a 30-minute slot to present his/her work. This provides presenters with an opportunity to present their research and to obtain feedback from a highly engaged audience.

Registration Fee
The registration fee for the conference is 200 EUR.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam

Conference organizing committee
Svetlana N. Khapova, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Marilieke Engbers, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Lara Tcholakian, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Erik van de Loo, INSEAD (France & Singapore) & TIAS (Netherlands)
Jaap Winter, University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) & INSEAD (France & Singapore)