Greetings, it has been a good long few months since my last blog post and as the academic year looms fast I thought it maybe best to spruce up the old’ blog. Todays blog is all about my adventures (not really an adventure) from the 24th Nordic academy of Management (NFF conference) which this year was held at the Nord University in Norway (Arctic circle). This being my first time in Norway I am glad I bought my fleece with me, while Bodo is breathtakingly beautiful it can also get pretty cold! However I had the NFF 2017 conference to keep me warm with lively discussion on some hot topics with some of the friendliest people I have ever met.
I approached Norway and the NFF conference with much trepidation. During my conversations with other academics who have submitted to this conference in the past I heard nothing but positive things about our Scandinavian colleagues. However this is my first international conference so naturally there was still a certain amount of anxiety. The usual questions were swirling around in my head, how will they receive my paper? Will I get positive feedback or relentless criticism?
I am pleased to say that my fears were unfounded, this was probably one of the best conferences I have ever attended, it was friendly, welcoming, and most importantly challenging. I was surrounded by good people and good food!
My paper was delivered on a Thursday afternoon and was carried out alongisde my colleague Dr Bejan Analoui. The paper centred on the impact of increasing managerialism within UK HE Business Schools and its impact on academic practices in relation to international students. The paper on the whole was well received and the feedback bought to light some interesting aspects which we had not previously considered, namely the structure could be redeveloped to give the paper a cleaner flow and to define or separate the concepts of bureaucracy and managerialism. These were very valid criticisms and I am confident that this will help the paper to become much better.
Other papers which piqued my interest were discussions around the “pop-don” academic (celebrity academic) a phenomena which questions and investigates elements of academic identity, this was delivered by my colleague Dr Julie Davis. In addition to this there were a few unique and interesting papers on academic collegiality. The notion of collegiality was discussed passionately during the talks I attended, there were detailed discussions how collegiality can be used as a mechanism to fight back against the rising tide of managerialism.
My time in Bodo also helped me to network and meet academics from the “High North”, who I now know as serious scholars with a passion for research and teaching & learning. During the conference I met professors, PhD students, Instructors and Lecturers who all play a vital role in oiling the “machine” of H.E. in Scandinavia. During my precious few days here at the conference I met some lovely individuals and I now have plenty of business cards with people who I would like to collaborate with in the future. Personally on reflection one of the biggest benefits of this conference has been meeting new people and seeing H.E. from a perspective which is totally different to the current U.K Environment.
I think in closing this blogpost I reflect back to the keynote of the funny and very entertaining Michael Booth who highlighted a lot of the nuances between the different Scandinavian countries (Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway). However what struck me is that while they have their differences, there is a unity between those countries and they are all very passionate about developing the teaching and learning experience. While research is high on the agenda it was refreshing to see that it is not the only agenda and there is a genuine passion to develop students and to provide them with not just a quality HE education but also a world class university experience.
Thanks for having me at NFF 2017 and I look forward to the next conference in 2019 in Iceland!