A Truly International Conference

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Last week I returned from a conference in Lyon, France.  In my opinion, this was the first truly international conference I've ever had the pleasure to attend--even though I've been to conferences abroad several times.

What made this conference so different?  A real communication across language barriers, and a broader notion of scholarship than the norm.   At other conferences I attended abroad I limited myself to presentations in English because I do not know technical terms in any other language.  I've only ever attended one other conference where cases were presented.

The story begins last spring when several unusual events came together. 

First, my sabbatical plans changed.  I had planned to spend two days a week at the offices of a NGO doing research into the costs and benefits of employer-sponsored smoking cessation programs.  Unfortunately, with the state of the economy, this organization had lost a great deal of its funding and laid off employees.  Bringing in an outside consultant during such a time was both too costly, and too bad for morale. 

Second, as mentioned in an earlier post, we got a shock when moving a spa outside was followed by the electric rate increase, and I began to look into solar energy.  I decided to make this a "two-fer" situation by writing a classroom case around solar energy with the newly available days.

Third came the call for papers for a conference jointly sponsored by a cost research institute at Jean Moutin University, the American Accounting Association, and The Academy of Management.  The theme of the conference was technological change and adaptation.  Few conferences accept cases, but this did seem like it fit the topic so I asked whether a case would be considered.  In the end, not only was the case accepted, it was chosen for presentation at a plenary session.  (A plenary session is aimed at the entire set of attendees because of hgh antiipated interest; most papers are presented at smaller break-out sessions.)

So not only was the conference topic forward looking, they accepted a case and chose to have it presented broadly.

The other unusual characteristic of this conference was that the plenary sessions had presentations in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and English.  Much like the United Nations, when you entered the room they offered you headphones.  Through these headphones you heard an interpreter in your fchosen language.

What a wonderful experience!  I hope that tI have a paper that fits their topic for the next conference, in 2013.


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