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Business Thought and Practice Met at Combi2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The October 7-10 conference in Vantaa, Finland, hosted by Laurea University of Applied Sciences was successful and enjoyable. The official theme was “Partnering for the Future.” The emphasis was on innovation of all kinds; in economic development and environmental sustainability partnerships, in business models of all kinds, and in distance teaching and learning. The audience was diverse and fulfilled the promise of extensive participation of both practitioners and academics.

The emphasis on innovation was timely as evidenced by an editorial I read in the Financial Times enroute. Discussing the global economic malaise, it argued that monetary policy has used up many of its available tools. Fiscal policy is moribund; consider the strikes and protests in Europe as governments try to impose structural changes and the fact that the political system in the US doesn’t have a coherent thought about fiscal policy. The point was that we have to innovate ourselves out of the economic mess we’re in. A talk by Dr. Toshiyasu Ichioka of the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation illustrated some of the possibilities.

Referred papers were presented in concurrent sessions, so it wasn’t possible to hear them all, but you can see the entire schedule here. I was particularly impressed with a paper entitled “Environmental Strategy and Organizational Capabilities: An Exploration of the Natural-Resource-Based View with a Focus on Columbian Firms” by Professors Mantilla and Rodriguez. It had a sound research design and good data that suggested a real difference between firms that include environmental sustainability as part of their strategy and those who do not. Innovative communication models were discussed in a session on “Multisensory Cultural Experiences” and another that featured faculty and doctoral students from the host institution, Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Read these and other papers in the Conference Proceedings.

It was a pleasure to hear an invited talk on customer co-creation of value by Professor Evert Gummesson, one of the originators of the services marketing discipline. I also particularly enjoyed a rousing call for “Stimulating Entrepreneurship and Creativity” from Professor Alan Barrell of Cambridge University.

As these few examples suggest, the conference was truly global in its scope. That is a major achievement and one that future conferences will hopefully be able to emulate. Next year’s conference will be hosted by HAMK University of Applied Sciences. Keep your eyes open; this conference is worth the time and effort!
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