Dear AIB Friends,
In this letter to you, my first as president, I will outline the direction that I intend to pursue during my term of service.
But first, I wish to provide a little background on how I came to take on this role. For me, AIB has been the one constant in my academic life since my PhD at Reading University as a student of Professor John Dunning. At first, AIB meant my local chapter – the then national UK Chapter. Being part of AIB allowed me to meet and discuss directly with leading scholars in our field. From the outset, I felt a strong desire to pay back to AIB for the opportunities it had given me professionally.
When I became chapter chair, I had the honor of leading the Chapter’s union with Irish colleagues to create a regional chapter – the UK & Ireland Chapter. Then as Vice-President Administration on the AIB Board, I was able to serve the global organization, working especially on the creation of the model for Shared Interest Groups (SIGs) which, together with the chapters, are a crucial avenue for the growth of AIB and what our organization has to offer the worldwide IB community. My predecessors on the Board have set a clear direction to improve AIB services to the membership around the globe. I am privileged to have the opportunity, with my fellow Board members, to continue this work.
Today, the Academy is on a trajectory both to expand its membership and provide more personalized service. Ensuring that the same opportunities I enjoyed as a young academic will be available to a new generation of early-career scholars, especially in those regions where international business is a growing field of research and teaching, is a priority for me.
AIB is already a truly global organization, and that places us at a great advantage in today’s academic landscape, as I will explain. At the top of my list is investing in existing AIB global structures – both the chapters and the SIGs – so as to better reach AIB’s current and potential members.
The Academy has a very clear sense of where it is coming from, and where it is going to. The excellent AIB History Project, led by AIB Historian and Past President Jean Boddewyn and Deputy Historian Lilac Nachum, is a timely reminder that AIB originated in the USA, spreading from North America to Europe and beyond over its now long history since 1959. This means that AIB has become more diverse in its geographical reach, opening the way to more stimulating research agendas.
At the same time, AIB has matured. While the Academy holds to the highest standards in scientific research within the subject field of International Business with its flagship journal, the Journal of International Business Studies, edited by Alain Verbeke and his team, we recognise that it is necessary to give back to wider society by demonstrating how our scientific research can benefit communities and nations around the world. In this regard, the Journal of International Business Policy, born in 2018, with an editorial team led by Sarianna Lundan and Ari Van Assche, is an initiative which squarely places AIB among the innovators in our field.
The demands upon AIB that I have witnessed during my brief time back on the Board, point to the need for the Academy to prepare for a world in which the old certainties no longer apply. For example, travel plans are likely to be subject to increasing unreliability, for a variety of reasons. In this last six months, the Board had to weigh up the pros and cons of changing the location of the 2020 annual meeting from Hong Kong to Miami, bringing Miami’s hosting of our conference forward by exactly one year. Our ultimate decision to withdraw this year’s event from Hong Kong was a particularly painful one, especially after enjoying such superlative commitment from our host universities there. At the same time, we are immensely grateful to our host school in Miami, Florida International University, and to Dean Joanne Li and her team, for their willingness to take on this extraordinary task at such short notice and with such enthusiasm.
How AIB adapts to uncertainties, anticipates them and, indeed, shows leadership in the successful resolution of them, is a theme and a question that I wish to explore with you. I believe that the chapters and the SIGs with their targeted workshops, are set to become even more important in establishing AIB’s presence on a local level, in the communities where our members live and work. For AIB membership to rise and our service to IB colleagues to grow as we would wish, then AIB’s regional and local activity must become a more prominent feature.
This local model is a good one for today, as it was for me at the beginning of my research career, and later on as a chapter chair. Now, with the SIGs we have a mechanism through which to deliver the latest knowledge directly to members in all regions. The Board is currently discussing further innovations that hold promise, for example, to enable thematically focused events to be held anywhere in the world. Our intention is to enhance the capacity of the Academy to cater to the spectrum of needs of IB community members, on their doorsteps.
Immediate Past President Chuck Kwok raised what I believe to be some very important questions in a previous issue of the AIB Newsletter regarding the ways in which we can grow our membership responsibly, efficiently, and sustainably. It is now more urgent than ever that we accelerate our efforts to address this issue. I am convinced that AIB’s direction should be congruent with our evolving sustainability agenda, which I hope we will be able to articulate and begin implementing during my presidency. The Academy’s global organization should be increasingly mindful of the sustainability imperative, and of contributing to our overall sustainable development. And, on that note, it gives me great pleasure to tell you that this AIB Newsletter is the first to be completely electronic.
With regard to research, International Business as a subject field has never been more promising for advances in thinking in business and management. I believe that IB research is poised to make important contributions to the social sciences and to society in terms of policy impact. Further developments from AIB in this vein are already under way.
In closing, I wish to express my thanks to a number of my AIB colleagues. I owe a special debt of gratitude to Chuck Kwok, the immediate past president, for his tremendous support overcoming what has been a very steep learning curve for me. Our many conversations have helped me immensely. I also wish to thank Marjorie Lyles who, had it not been for circumstances beyond her control which obliged her to step down from the AIB Executive Board, would have been your president today. Marjorie has been, and is, a great help to me. And Lorraine Eden has been an exceptional source of advice and wisdom throughout these last six months, during which I have served as president-elect.
I should like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to Tomas Hult, who stepped down from the post of Executive Director at the end of last year. The truly exceptional service Tomas has given to AIB was recognised when he received the John H. Dunning AIB Service Award at our Annual Meeting in Copenhagen last year, drawing a 40-seconds long applause from the audience in a huge vote of thanks from the members. Tunga Kiyak has now stepped into this role, combining it with his existing appointment as Managing Director leading the peerless Secretariat team that AIB is so fortunate to have.
I also wish to congratulate and welcome the newly elected incoming Executive Board members (who will formally join the Board on August 1, 2020): incoming President-Elect Farok Contractor, incoming Vice President Program-Elect Andrew Delios, and incoming Vice President Administration-Elect Dana Minbaeva. Each brings a wealth of expertise that we will need to advance AIB’s ambitious agenda.
My Executive Board colleagues and I will be looking to the AIB membership, to those who care greatly about how AIB can adopt more innovative, sustainable models and practices, and exert positive influence through engagement with the business and policy communities. We will need imaginative thinking from all our members, both existing and new, around the world. Thank you, for this great privilege of serving as your president.