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AoM2011: Post gender society

August 13, 2011

AOM2011-Heading.png So its August and it must be the Academy of Management, its normally interesting and its my fifth year at the event. Five years and three awards isn’t a bad record, the latest reflecting citation history which is nice. Mostly stimulating, often frustrating, always a chance to meet good people. But why San Antonio? Well lets be more precise, why San Antonio in August?

I landed two hours late in Dallas yesterday. My original plan have been a leisurely drive via the mountains and rivers around Austin rather then flying the last stretch. That would also allow me to spend the end of the week with old friends in Houston before returning to the UK. It was a good idea, but then that award came through so I would have to miss out the tourist stuff to make it. As it happened it didn’t matter really as the flight was over two hours late. A party got on at Heathrow with a child connected to oxygen and God knows what else. Three minutes after leaving the gate we had to stop and wait for medics who came to the conclusion the child should be taken off again. OK it happens but one wonders why they got on in the first place.

Either way, net result is a late arrival in Dallas, and seven hours of time difference (I am still on Italian time) and a 250 mile drive in blazing heat. It is just too hot here and it didn’t put me in a good mood for a drive interrupted by bill boards arguing that Barack Obama is a socialist. From my perspective he is a centrist neo-liberal but never mind, this is Texas. Fortunately there was a Starbucks every fifty miles, my trusty satnav worked and I had Niven’s RingWorld to listen to via the iPod. Thankfully all modern cars allow a direct iPod link rather than messing around with attempting to fake a broadcast. The last two hours were not fun as traffic and fatigues increased as darkness fell but I made it.

This morning I was up bright and early for the session I was running with Jim Hazy and others. It went OK, but was very similar to the last two with a new audience. I have some major concerns about the granularity of sense-making objects but I will save that for next week it needs some thinking before I write. After performing I went onto a few sessions and was generally appalled by the standard of many of the presentations. If some of these people lecture the way they speak god help their students. The esoteric nature of some areas of academic life are also interesting. I went to one session to catch up with Hugh Wilmott with whom I wrote my first ever paper. Hugh was presenting on the effect of measuring people by publication count and the power consequences thereof which was interesting. However others in the session were working within an esoteric language set of gender politics coupled with a form of Marxism that must be unique to the sub-continent. I’m sympathetic to many of the issues, but the arguments seem wrapped up in a self referential and profoundly causal language that permits no debate other than to confirm the evils of colonialism, capitalism and the ontology of post-gender society.

By the late afternoon I was flagging so I headed back to the hotel for room service and sleep – tomorrow West meets East and I am nervous.

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