CEEMAN ANNUAL CONFERENCES 2008-2012

Walravens' analysis of the "themes" emphasized in the annual conferences from 2008 to 2012 finds an early focus on the economic crisis and its impact on business schools then a turn to ethics, social responsibility, and a reconsideration of CEEMAN's mission to address management education challenges in "dynamic markets" all over the world. Annual conference attendance dipped in far-away Tbilisi in 2011 and South Africa in 2012 but delegates from over 50 countries participated in these conferences—a new record for CEEMAN.

(Photo from: the 18th CEEMAN Annual Conference, Caserta, Italy)
CEEMAN ANNUAL CONFERENCES 2008 - 2012

16th Annual Conference - Tirana, Albania
2008: Management Education for the Realities of Emerging Markets
Charles Handy, speaking at the16th CEEMAN Annual Conference in Tirana, Albania, 2008.
Gazmend Haxhia, President of ACMS (Albanian Center for Management Services of Albania) welcomed CEEMAN delegates to their 2008 annual conference in Tirana, Albania, with these thoughts "Albania is not an easy country to understand… it belongs to different worlds. It is part of former communist Europe, it is part of the Balkans, and now has made its appearance in the capitalist world, is joining NATO and moving in the direction of the European Union."

Named a Young Global Leader by the Davos Economic Forum jury in 2008, Gazmend has strong views on the new realities of emerging markets: "Albanian entrepreneurs clearly understand that entering the entrepreneurship game is about making money; but it is also about making a mark. The new generation is endlessly better educated and informed than their predecessors and shamelessly entrepreneurial. For many, a dull corporate existence is not an option. They want more than just a check at the end of the month… many want meaning and purpose as well."

Erhard Busek, Coordinator of the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative and former Vice-Chancellor of Austria spoke warmly of economic progress in Southeast Europe, stronger anti-corruption measures, and myriad cooperative ventures. But he also cited ongoing problems: instability in Kosovo, high rates of unemployment, and a regional "brain drain." Panelists of political and business leaders, in turn, spoke about examples progress and challenges in their realms and firms.
What are the implications for CEEMAN schools? At the Deans and Directors meeting, Ichak Adizes spoke about the continued importance of "dreaming" as CEE schools move from a "pioneering" phase to reach "prime"—an optimal point where the organization finally achieves a balance between control and flexibility. Here an organization is guided by the vision of its reason for being; stretch goals are set, aligned, and consistently achieved; priorities are clear; and the organization embraces change.

Conference keynoter Charles Handy, a leading social thinker, business philosopher, and author of, among other books, The Empty Raincoat and The New Alchemists: How Visionary People make Something out of Nothing, urged the educators to think "outside the box" when reminding delegates that all major breakthroughs come from the edges of a field, at its periphery. He also reinforced the linkage between arts and business advanced by Danica Purg and developed at earlier CEEMAN meetings: "Is it too fanciful to think of great management theories as poetry in motion, or of management teachers as poets of a kind, capturing the essence of things in memorable concepts?"

CEEMAN celebrated its 15th anniversary at this conference with a gala dinner at Villa Toscana where participants were welcomed by an Albanian folklore group with national songs and dances and enjoyed dancing and birthday cake at the end. Leonid Evenko and Natalia Evtikhieva (Director General of RABE), presented Danica with a special anniversary gift. For the first time, annual conference videos and presentations were made available on-line.

17th Annual Conference - Riga, Latvia
2009: Local Responses to Global Crisis
Irina Sennikova, host of the CEEMAN Annual Conference in Riga, Latvia, 2009
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb was the talk of CEEMAN's 17th Annual Conference held on 24-26 September, 2009, in Riga, Latvia. One of its theses, that people are often blind to the import of massive and rare events in human history (such as the 2008-10 financial crisis) was embedded in the theme of this meeting on "Local Responses to Global Crisis."

The host was Riga International School of Economics and Business Administration (RISEBA) and its Dean Irina Sennikova and Rector Boriss Kurovs. Irina informed the delegates that enrollment at her school was down 30% this year, but that the overall portfolio of programs "still looks pretty good." Among the key responses of RISEBA: developing a diverse portfolio of educational programs, offering multidisciplinary courses pitched to distinct audiences (public relations and advertising for communication specialists, audiovisual media arts for the film and television industry), and "realism" in pricing and internal management.

On this point, Danica Purg referenced Professor Hermann Simon's Beat the Crisis: 33 Quick Solutions for Your Company which reports that cost-cutting can improve your budget by 10% whereas, moving people from administration into marketing can generate up to a 30% improvement. She held a seminar for staff at her school to enhance their personal customer connections. Leonid Evenko, who described adaptations at the International School of Business, Moscow, added that "diversification is not only a marketing device but is related to innovation."
Matej Potokar, CEEMAN Board Member (Microsoft), speaking at the CEEMAN Annual Conference in Riga, Latvia, 2009
Professor Nancy Adler, of McGill University, Montreal, Canada developed this idea in her keynote where she reminded conferees that the world was not only facing an economic, but also an ecological crisis and loss of spirit. Her messages: Leaders have to have the courage to see reality even when others deny it, to envision new possibilities even when others resist it, and to inspire people to move forward.

A survey of CEEMAN members and stakeholders on the roots and ramification of the global crisis helped conferees to focus and share views on their current realities. In turn, a series of presentations by political and business leaders, and by academic deans, directors, and faculty provided both practical and inspirational examples on new possibilities and forward moves.

On the business side, Slovene Janez Škrabec, President and owner of Riko, a company involved in industrial engineering, logistics, and construction, shared stories about flexibility and entrepreneurship; George Logush, Vice-President, Kraft Foods, Ukraine about new product development; and Derek Abell about combining "good business with a good social agenda." To close, Ichak Adizes encouraged leaders to connect closely with their workers and to manage "more by the pride of teamwork and less by worshipping numbers."

18th Annual Conference - Caserta/Naples, Italy
2010: New Global Performance Challenges and Implications for Management Development
IQA Award to IAB Kazakhstan. 18th CEEMAN Annual Conference, Caserta, Italy, 2010
The global crisis was still centerstage at CEEMAN's 2010 annual meeting in Caserta, near Naples, hosted by Coca-Cola HBC Italia and its General Manager and CEEMAN board member Ulrik Nehammer. Delegates discussed a mix of global threats and opportunities, new performance challenges, and the implications for management development. Ulrik set the tone for conferees by stating that the only enduring sources of competitive advantage are people and culture.

At the Deans and Director's meeting, panelists spoke of new "customer requirements" from undergraduates, MBAs, and executive participants. At each level, there were calls for more open and participative pedagogy and user input in curriculum development. Professor Krzysztof Obłoj spoke to demands for rigor and for relevance in management scholarship and highlighted twin challenges for researchers: continue to test established (western) theories in an emerging market (eastern) context and begin to develop indigenous management theories that connect to the unique history, cultures, and contingencies found in the CEE.

Dr. Peter Kraljič addressed the annual conference on "what is takes to be globally competitive." At the level of enterprise, he spoke about the "invisible organization"—shared values and objectives and the quality of collaboration. His larger point was that you needed a "holistic" perspective on competitiveness that ranges from global to regional to local to individual considerations.

IEDC faculty Nadya Zhexembayeva, drawing from her book Embedded Sustainability, emphasized three themes pertaining to a more holistic approach to management education: increasing expectations of social responsibility from consumers, employees, investors, and the public; declining natural resources and environmental threats; and radical calls for openness and transparency. "As management educators," she said to conferees, "we need to embed sustainability into our curricula."
In turn, Luca Gatti, Founding Partner and CEO of eLogus, Italy (now living in Australia), took a turn at "futurology" and reminded delegates that "the future does not beam data back to us." This led into a discussion of working with meaning—"understand what (meaning) is, how social systems generate it, how it is interpreted, and how it makes things happen."

One troubling idea lurking through the conference was that business schools had helped to cause the financial crisis through their pedagogy and values. Earlier in the year, the Global Forum on Management Education published a series of essays From Challenge to Change: Business Schools in the Wake of Financial Crisis. In turn, the Harvard Business School introduced reforms into its curricula and renewed its emphasis on managerial ethics.

Danica Purg summed up the situation in this way: "Business schools are at a crossroads. They are shifting from a reliance on analytic models and statistics to developing leadership skills of self-awareness and self-reflection. They are teaching a global mindset and an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of business as well as the limits of existing business models and markets." The upshot: "management and leadership education is going to be more innovative in the future."

19th Annual Conference - Tbilisi, Georgia
2011: Management Education in a Changing World: Are We Ready for the Challenge?
Khakha Shengelia, President of CBS. Gala Dinner at the 19th CEEMAN Annual Conference, Tbilisi, Georgia, 2011.
In November, 2003, tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Tbilisi, Georgia to protest a rigged election and demand the resignations of Eduard Shevardnadze, who had ruled Georgia for more than 30 years as its Soviet-era Communist Party boss and its longest-serving post-independence president. Hundreds of soldiers were deployed to end the protest and student demonstrators responded by giving red roses to the soldiers. Not one person was injured and not a drop of blood was spilled in the Revolution of Roses as the soldiers laid down their guns.

Independent Georgian media, mobilization by NGOs, and the power of youth groups such as Kmara (Enough) all played an important role in this bloodless revolution. The next years in Georgia were marked by constant change making Tbilisi an apt locale for CEEMAN to gather in September, 2011, to explore "Management Education in a Changing World: Are We Ready for the Challenge?"

The host and co-organizer of the event that attracted 130 participants from 32 countries (over half outside the CEE region) was the Caucasus Business School of Caucasus University headed by its President Kakha Shengelia and Business School Dean Boris Lezhava. Kakha's address to the delegates provided a sweeping overview of challenges and opportunities in the region. He honed in on the "war on corruption" that saw 35,000 policeman dismissed in one day and a complete overhaul of the tax system.
A panel of academics and business experts spoke to the changing landscape in emerging markets, animated by Peter Drucker's famous adage: "The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday's logic." Naturally, China's continued growth was a focal point of conversation. But Pavlo Scheremeta asked, "Should Eastern Europe really compete with the Asian economies on their conditions?" His answer: "I think that the focus should be on creativity and innovation."

Adding global voices, Professor Antonio Gelis Filho, of FGV-EAESP, Brazil, speaking of the geopolitical shift enveloping his nation, argued that business schools in emerging markets should emphasize the applied social sciences—political science, sociology, psychology—to enable students to see the "big picture." John Powell, Director, University of Stellenbosch Business School, South Africa, added that business graduates needed to be "interlocutors, combining theory and practice." And Edward Sandoyan, of the Russian-Armenian State University, playing the role of challenger, commented "Many MBA graduates know how to dress nicely and make slides, but they lack deep knowledge." His idea: let students collect academic credits at different CEEMAN schools to gain broader exposure and deeper understanding.

20th Annual Conference - Cape Town, South Africa
2012: Business and Educational Challenges in Dynamically Changing Environments
Arnold Walravens at the CEEMAN Annual Conference in South Africa, 2012
In November, 2003, tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Tbilisi, Georgia to protest a rigged election and demand the resignations of Eduard Shevardnadze, who had ruled Georgia for more than 30 years as its Soviet-era Communist Party boss and its longest-serving post-independence president. Hundreds of soldiers were deployed to end the protest and student demonstrators responded by giving red roses to the soldiers. Not one person was injured and not a drop of blood was spilled in the Revolution of Roses as the soldiers laid down their guns.

Independent Georgian media, mobilization by NGOs, and the power of youth groups such as Kmara (Enough) all played an important role in this bloodless revolution. The next years in Georgia were marked by constant change making Tbilisi an apt locale for CEEMAN to gather in September, 2011, to explore "Management Education in a Changing World: Are We Ready for the Challenge?"

The host and co-organizer of the event that attracted 130 participants from 32 countries (over half outside the CEE region) was the Caucasus Business School of Caucasus University headed by its President Kakha Shengelia and Business School Dean Boris Lezhava. Kakha's address to the delegates provided a sweeping overview of challenges and opportunities in the region. He honed in on the "war on corruption" that saw 35,000 policeman dismissed in one day and a complete overhaul of the tax system.
A panel of academics and business experts spoke to the changing landscape in emerging markets, animated by Peter Drucker's famous adage: "The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday's logic." Naturally, China's continued growth was a focal point of conversation. But Pavlo Scheremeta asked, "Should Eastern Europe really compete with the Asian economies on their conditions?" His answer: "I think that the focus should be on creativity and innovation."

Adding global voices, Professor Antonio Gelis Filho, of FGV-EAESP, Brazil, speaking of the geopolitical shift enveloping his nation, argued that business schools in emerging markets should emphasize the applied social sciences—political science, sociology, psychology—to enable students to see the "big picture." John Powell, Director, University of Stellenbosch Business School, South Africa, added that business graduates needed to be "interlocutors, combining theory and practice." And Edward Sandoyan, of the Russian-Armenian State University, playing the role of challenger, commented "Many MBA graduates know how to dress nicely and make slides, but they lack deep knowledge." His idea: let students collect academic credits at different CEEMAN schools to gain broader exposure and deeper understanding.

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Credits
Text — adapted from the book "CEEMAN - 20 Years of Creating History" by Philip H. Mirvis and Arnold Walravens, 2013

Production and Design — Artyom Ushnichkov, 2018