Unusual times need innovative ideas: EBS Doctoral Colloquium 2020
In April 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic reached its peak in Germany, Julia Elspaß and Pia Neudert - both doctoral students, research students and representatives of the EBS Business School’s academic mid-level faculty - learned from other doctoral students that academic conferences were cancelled one after the other. This can have a substantial effect on their career and life plans: A mandatory conference presentation is necessary at EBS Business School in order to attain a doctoral degree. Julia Elspaß and Pia Neudert therefore set all the levers in motion.
Thanks to the broad support of EBS University’s Doctoral Committee, EBS Business School Dean Christian Landau and EBS Business School Vice Dean Research Maikki Diehl, the idea of a dedicated conference quickly matured into an officially endorsed project: Acceptance and submission guidelines were drawn up. In addition, adjunct professors from institutions such as the University of Montana or the University of Connecticut were recruited to serve as the scientific committee. Additionally, panelists were recruited to read the students’ contributions before the event and provide feedback and constructive criticism during the event. As a result, the doctoral students had to submit a 40-pages full paper, pass a formal criteria check, and receive an acceptance confirmation out of the blind-review process conducted by the Scientific Committee.
Finally, four successful applications were admitted to the conference, who presented their work in a hybrid event on September 30, 2020, uniting online and offline participants from Israel, the United States, Germany, and other locations to discuss about the students’ research. The event turned out a full success: The presenting students received insightful feedback from the assigned discussants and the plenary session. Additionally, usually distinct research fields at EBS Business School engaged in a very fruitful dialogue: employee performance management systems, digital transformation, asset pricing, and rental affordability in German cities covered a broad spectrum research diversity at EBS Business School.
A spontaneous idea to mitigate the negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for doctoral students thus developed into an extraordinary event. This shows once again: #EBSpirit is not only a slogan, but actually lived practice.