TIM Division’s Second Paper Development Workshop was held on 14th and 15th of May 2020 in an online format. The mentors, professors Raghu Garud, Shaz Ansari, Janet Bercovitz, Hans Berends, Rahul Kapoor, Valentina Tartari, Pierpaolo Andriani, Stefano Brusoni, and Tao Wang, provided in-depth feedback to early career scholars from various countries and institutions. The workshop was co-organized by Neva Bojovic (Kedge Business School), Vidya Oruganti (Grenoble Ecole de Management) and Pierpaolo Andriani (Kedge Business School).

The organizers summarize key points of their experience of moving a workshop from an offline arrangement to an online format and making it happen.

When we started planning the TIM Paper Development Workshop, we certainly did not expect to have to move it entirely online. It was planned to be in Kedge Business School, in beautiful city of Bordeaux. With cheese, wine and of course great conversations! Inspired by the great success of the first TIM PDW in Barcelona in 2019, we were aiming to create a similar experience in Bordeaux, a mix of developmental work and fun times. The PDW format is suitable for achieving that, as it allows smaller groups of people to meet and exchange over one or two days.

We had a great turnout with more than 50 interesting works on the topic of “Emerging Technologies and Ecosystems”, and we ensured participation from senior scholars as mentors. So far so good. Until… COVID-19 happened.

A bit more than two months before the workshop, it was clear that May 14-15th was not an option anymore. We had several possibilities: cancel the workshop, postpone it until autumn or later, or try moving the entire PDW to an online format. At the same time, many conferences and workshops were being cancelled regularly. This motivated us more to shift the PDW to an online format. Given a situation where a lot of workshops were cancelled, we thought it best to opt for a virtual PDW, so that the participants could get some feedback on their work and we could support the TIM community participants during these uncertain times.

The result was a deeply developmental workshop that was satisfying for participants, as well as their mentors As organisers, we were happy to have opted for a virtual PDW, rather than no PDW! To help other TIM memberswho are considering an online PDW, we summarize the key learning points from our experience:

Plan for smaller groups for engaging online discussion

To be truly developmental, considering the online format, we decided not to have more than 4 participants per mentor. Fortunately and thankfully, the members of the TIM division helped with their participation, and we had a fantastic group of senior scholars. We thank them very much for their time, efforts and willful participation in making this happen!

Be flexible and mindful

As our groups were small, it allowed flexibility with scheduling that could take into account individual needs and situations. We had participants from several continents and different timezones, so we had to be mindful to match the mentors and groups by not only research interest, but also possible time slot. In different groups, we had different timings, but most of them counted for small breaks between the sessions to have a little bit of a screen break, make lunch or have some family time. Where possible, we setup the meeting for various subgroups, and where it was preferred, the mentors organized their groups. For example, some groups preferred meeting on a single day with multiple breaks, while other preferred to divide their discussions between two days (with small breaks included, of course!).

Plan for technical difficulties and the unexpected

            As in any event organization, you can expect to surely encounter some difficulties with an online event. Possibly, there will be some bugs and problems with online meeting applications such as Zoom, Skype, or any other tool. Try to plan and control, for example by using different options depending on what the mentor is most comfortable with if you have smaller groups or trying to have an integrated solution for everyone. Second, as there were many uncertainties and unexpected events in the daily lives and jobs of participants and mentors, some of them could not eventually participate. Be understanding.

Take full advantage of the online format

            Even though there are many disadvantages of the online workshop, such as not having enough time, the technical issues, being tedious to stay online for longer periods of time, and not many possibilities to engage informally, there are some advantages. For example, you can invite your co-authors to participate without them having to take a flight or book accommodation.

Finally, as organizers, we are happy that we decided to proceed with organization of the online PDW in spite of the uncertainties and difficulties. Even though we would have preferred to meet and discuss in person with all, enjoy the French wine and culture in the beautiful Bordeaux, the workshop was able to fulfil its developmental purpose. We thank the TIM leadership and Kedge Business School for their support in organization, as well as our participants and mentors for their time, commitment and engagement. 

If you are planning to organize a similar workshop online, do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

Neva Bojovic, neva.bojovic@kedgebs.com

Vidya Oruganti, vidya.oruganti@grenoble-em.com

Pierpaolo Andriani, pierpaolo.andriani@kedgebs.com