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[log in to unmask]" v:shapes="_x0000_s1026">Ashridge International Research Conference 2015

2pm June 12th – 2pm June 14th 2015








Challenges in Professional & Knowledge Intensive Environments:

Leadership, management and innovation in the global knowledge economy




Call for Papers


Information on acceptance for conference papers by May 7th 2015



AIRC4: 4th Ashridge International Research Conference

12-14 June 2015, Ashridge Business School, Berkhamsted (by London), UK


    Conference Committee:

Professor Carla Millar, Fellow, Ashridge & Professor International Management, Univ of Twente, NL

Professor Stephen Chen, Professor of International Business, University of Newcastle, Australia

Alex Davda, Business Psychologist and Consultant, Ashridge Business School, Dubai, UAI

Lee Waller, Director, Ashridge Centre for Research in Executive Development, UK



Changes in technological, social and economic environments pose significant challenges for leadership and management of organisations, departments and administrations in knowledge-intensive, creative or professional industries, activities and services (in short, “KIS” organisations). In knowledge intensive activities and services your people are your primary assets. Increasingly, people’s knowledge, experience and creativity form the backbone of the organisation’s success and leading and managing them to achieve their potential is of key importance, as is the retention of developed knowledge employees over time.


Growth of KIS organisations also depends crucially on management's ability to give leadership in a way that supports knowledge-intensive teamwork. The global nature of much knowledge and of knowledge networks and the ambitions of KIS firms to expand globally add to the leadership challenge, bringing into focus both cultural differences and other international business issues such as the protection of intellectual property rights and retaining your best talent. The leadership and management challenges are also mirrored in Civil Service bodies, creative industries and R&D organisations.


In this conference we will address the challenges of leading and managing knowledge intensive service organisations, departments and administrations and building effective leadership and management skills. We aim to frame this in the context of the strategic importance of leadership in KIS, both traditional and innovative, both locally and internationally, and to lay the groundwork for the development of theory, as well as offering practical advice and approaches.


The topic of this conference is overdue for more attention; to date research on leadership and management of such organisations has not kept pace with research on management of manufacturing organisations. KIS organisations face a number of new developments in their competitive environment including a global shortage of talent (Schuler et al., 2011), information technologies that are reshaping the competitive landscape in KIS (Federoff, 2012), the development of new business models such as offshoring of knowledge-intensive services (Lewin et al, 2009) and global open innovation models (Chesbrough, 2010).


In delineating the scope of knowledge intensive services to be considered, we look to definitions such as “organisations / firms whose primary value-added activities consist of the accumulation, creation, or dissemination of knowledge for the purpose of developing a customised service” (Bettencourt et al. 2002), also CaniŽls & Romijn (2005), Simmie and Strambach (2006), Strambach (2008), Kam and Singh (2004), as “ Companies / organisations which rely heavily on professional knowledge, i.e. knowledge or expertise related to a specific (technical) discipline or functional domain, to supply products and services that are knowledge based” (Den Hartog 2000), or are defined as services where ‘knowledge is the main production factor and the good they offer’ (European Commission, 2012).


We pay attention to international public administrations, e.g. models for how in the UK the Civil Service can implement The UK Civil Service Reform Plan 2012, and respond to David Cameron’s call for a Civil Service that is pacier, more flexible, focused on outcomes and results rather than process, encourages innovation and challenges the status quo.

The types of knowledge and the types of organisational form are varied. As well as technical knowledge and factual/data knowledge, attention needs to be given to particularly intangible knowledge assets such as tacit knowledge (e.g. Polanyi, 1966). Research in this area has not progressed strongly and major gaps are observable.


Organisational forms also span a wide range from dedicated R&D, creative or professional services firms to Civil Service departments and in-house centres of excellence or expertise in multinationals. While these are very specific organisations, firms, departments with specific leadership, management, career structure challenges, they share the common factor that people are their major assets and success depends on leading and managing them so that their knowledge – both explicit and tacit is fully exploited for the benefit of the organisation.


Many historic KIS organisations (e.g. law, accountancy, consultancy) are characterised by partnerships without external ownership, informal management, up-or-out promotion, and an emphasis on professionalization, which tends to manage quality by the use of control mechanisms not necessarily suitable to the demands of the knowledge intensive operating environment. As professions, many also thrive on a monopoly on the use of the knowledge for their profession, autonomous (self-) regulation, rules and practices that exclude non-professionals and mitigate competition amongst professionals; this can lead to a club-like environment with distinctive behaviour and even its own code of ethics. Attempts to apply leadership and management skills from elsewhere to such an environment regularly end in failure (see also Von Nordenflycht, 2010).


By contrast a more recent wave of KIS organisations is characterised by emphasis on the search for innovative and self-starting individuals, giving them freedom to deploy their talents creatively, and basing revenue generation and growth on the value of the input given to clients together with the star quality of staff or teams.  Employee bargaining power and preference for autonomy make authority problematic (Anand et al., 2007) and lead to organisational responses in the form of alternative compensation mechanisms and autonomy and informality in organisational structure. While leadership and management in such organisations may often be “light touch” at the same time it needs to pay particular constant attention to inspiring and retaining staff.


It can also be observed that an individual‘s professional knowledge is becoming outdated at a faster rate than ever before. Rapid changes in the job market and work-related technologies are necessitating continuous education. In some sectors, AI and other forms of automation may eliminate 50-80% of the work currently undertaken by professionals and skilled workers.


The following either consist of knowledge-intensive activities or require substantial management of them to maintain viability:

n  research and development (R&D),

n  universities,

n  management consulting,

n  the Civil Service,

n  information and communication services,

n  human resource management and employment services.

n  legal services (including those related to Intellectual Property rights), 

n  accountancy,

n  financial services (including banking and insurance services),

n  architecture,

n  hospitals and medical services

n  marketing and advertising services,

n  creative businesses,

n  cultural organisations.


Within the framework of our title:

Challenges in Professional & Knowledge Intensive Environments:

Leadership, management and innovation in the global knowledge economy

the issues below are some of those the conference may cover, and on which we will be happy to accept submissions - but of course acceptance of submissions is not limited to these:



Leading and leadership

         Challenges of leading and managing knowledge workers as a type (not just managing the knowledge or content of their work)

         New theories of both motivation and leadership as they apply to knowledge-intensive organisational environments

         Leadership and incentivising trouble shooters

         Leadership style differences among types of KIS (e.g. think tanks, ICT pioneers, traditional professional practices)

         Women in KIS

         Exploiting the combined knowledge of the team

         Exploiting the institution’s cumulative IP

         The asymmetric seller – buyer relationship

         Talent, creativity, innovation, tacit knowledge as sources of competitive advantage


Management processes in KIS

         Models for how public administrations, the Civil Service can be more flexible, focused on outcomes and results rather than process

         Managing knowledge-based processes in KIS when these are distributed

         Managing in the context of automation of previously knowledge-intensive tasks and deskilling of prestige roles

         Managing knowledge corruption

         Managing intergenerational differences in knowledge including tacit knowledge

         Providing meaningful work in the multi-generational knowledge intensive organisation

         Education for knowledge intensive functions, and challenges for management development in KIS

         Challenges for ensuring continuing development and updating of established knowledge workers in KIS organisations


Knowledge intensive activities in the global environment

         The role of globalisation and technology developments in KIS

         The interaction of (information) technology, knowledge management techniques and KIS leadership in a global KIS context

         Managing KIS across cultures and the role of cultural differences

         KIS in emerging markets

         Globally distributed work

         Risks and opportunities in automation and offshoring of knowledge intensive work

         Maintaining and enhancing organisational reputation in global KIS

         Entrepreneurship and innovation management in global KIS


‘Herding Cats’: organizing people in KIS

         The organisational form of KIS structures and the effects on leadership or management.

         The master craftsman - apprentice relationship as an analogy for relationships in KIS organisations

         Measurement and objectivity of performance assessment for KIS workers, e.g. linked to tacit knowledge and intangibility

         The autonomy of KIS workers vs organisational deliverables

         Supervising and intelligent monitoring functions in KIS

         Organisational impact of recruiting and advancing “star performers” in KIS

         Organisational impact of “recruit rather than develop” strategies in KIS

         Giving perennial inspiration and recognition to creative staff not seeking or not eligible for promotion

         Developing, cultivating and maintaining fundamental qualifications and “expert”ise

         Career management in KIS



AIRC4 offers dialogue among colleagues and timely feedback and peer review on your papers before the submission deadlines for the individual journal Special Issues.

We welcome the submission of original full papers, advanced work in progress, as well as

policy papers, and research based proposals for specially themed sessions or for panels on the conference theme.


Deadlines and review process

                Deadline for the submission of full papers, advanced work in progress,

    or panel proposals for the conference                               15 April 2015

                Decision on acceptance for the conference                         07 May 2015

                Deadline submission revised papers for

         Conference Proceedings                                                  1st June 2015

                 Deadline for submission for Journal SIs [see SI websites]     15 Sept or15 Oct 2015



         All manuscripts will be double-blind reviewed.

         Papers are submitted with the understanding

o    that they are original, unpublished works 

o    that they are not being submitted elsewhere and

o    that [one of] the author[s] will attend the conference and present the paper

         For submission details please see

         Submissions can be made electronically online or as email attachment (Word).

         Submission details can be accessed at Please

  follow the link ‘submissions’ and clearly indicate that your submission is for AIRC4.

         Manuscripts should follow Harvard the style guidelines

         Details :

         First page: manuscript title and name of author[s], institutional affiliation, and contact information for each of the authors.

         Second page: manuscript title and brief (100 word maximum) biography of each of the authors.

         Third page: manuscript title and brief (250 word maximum) abstract of the paper.

         Fourth page and following: manuscript title followed by the text of paper.

         Third, fourth, and pages following should have no reference to, or name(s) of, the author(s) of the paper.

         The paper is between 4000 and 5000 words in length

         Please submit to  [log in to unmask] with AIRC4 in the email heading.


Conference Details

For conference details / registration please see our website


The conference will feature an Opening Panel of Experts, Keynote speakers, and interactive dialogue between academics and practitioners.


         Alvesson, Mats. Management of knowledge-intensive companies. Vol. 61. Walter de Gruyter, 1995.

         Bettencourt, L. A., Ostrom, A. L., Brown, S. W., & Roundtree, R. I. (2002). Client Co-Production in Knowledge-Intensive Business Services. California Management Review, 44(4), 100-128.

         CaniŽls, M.C.J. & Romijn, H.A. (2005). What works, and why, in business services provision for SME? : insights from evolutionary theory. Managing Service Quality, 15(6), 591-608.

         Chesbrough, Henry (2010). Open services innovation: rethinking your business to grow and compete in a new era. John Wiley & Sons.

         European Commission (2012). Knowledge-intensive (business) services in Europe. Available at

         Fedoroff, Nina V (2012). "The global knowledge society." Science 335.6068: 503-503.

         den Hartog, P. (2000): Knowledge-Intensive Business Services as Co-Producers of In-novation. International Journal of Innovation Management, 4, 491-528.

         Lewin, Arie, Silvia Massini, and Carine Peeters (2009). "Why are companies offshoring innovation?: The emerging global race for talent." Journal of International Business Studies 40.6: 901-925.

         LÝwendahl, Bente R., ōivind Revang, and Siw M. FosstenlÝkken. "Knowledge and value creation in professional service firms: A framework for analysis."Human relations 54.7 (2001): 911-931.

         Polanyi, Michael. 1966. The Tacit Dimension. University of Chicago Press.

         Schuler, Randall S., Susan E. Jackson, and Ibraiz Tarique (2011). "Global talent management and global talent challenges: Strategic opportunities for IHRM." Journal of World Business 46.4: 506-516.

         Simmie, J., & Strambach, S. (2006). The Contribution of KIBS to Innovation in Cities: An Evolutionary and Institutional Perspective. Journal Of Knowledge Management, 10(5), 26-40

         Strambach, S. (2008). Knowledge-Intensive Business Services (KIBS) as drivers of multilevel knowledge dynamics. International Journal Of Services Technology & Management, 10, 152-174

         Von Nordenflycht, Andrew. "What is a professional service firm? Toward a theory and taxonomy of knowledge-intensive firms." Academy of Management Review 35.1 (2010): 155-174.

         Wong Poh Kam, K. K., & Singh, A. (2004). The Pattern of Innovation in the Knowledge-intensive Business Services Sector of Singapore. Singapore Management Review, 26(1), 21-44.


AIRC4 – An intimate multidisciplinary international conference linking select academics and professionals





Prof. Carla C.J.M. Millar PhD


Fellow, Ashridge Business School, Berkhamsted, Herts HP4 1NS, UK, 0044 1442 84 1175, 0044 20 7402 4700,

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Professor, International Marketing & Management, University of Twente, School of Management & Governance.

   PO Box 217, 7500 AE  Enschede, The Netherlands, 0031 53 489 5355, 0031 33 462 7343

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Professor, Public Affairs, University of Chester, Parkgate Rd, Chester CH1 4BJ, UK, 0044 1244 511867,

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