Alliance Manchester Business School - AMBS
Article By
Ken McPhail

Ken McPhail

Professor and Chair in Accounting

Reimagining business

Ken McPhail looks forward to this year's British Academy of Management conference.

Professor Ken McPhail, chair of the British Academy of Management 2022 conference committee, looks forward to this year’s conference which is being held at AMBS.

There has never been a more pressing time to reimagining business and management as a force for good. Indeed, achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals confronts us with the need to completely re-imagine the purpose of business.

For instance we are increasingly aware that reaching net zero will require fundamental transitions both in the way we live and our economy. There is a world of difference between the structure of our current economy and the one required to limit global warming to two degrees C.

Closer to home there is a huge difference in prosperity between regions of the UK. Inequalities related to social groups across the regions may already have changed the face of UK politics, and as the flesh is put on the bones of the government’s levelling up agenda, difficult questions are being asked about the role of businesses in reinforcing inequalities, not just about what they can do to reduce them.

Challenging our thinking

These profound shifts challenge the way we think about and practise business and management, raising fundamental questions about whether sustainable and inclusive productivity growth is possible and – if it is – the new roles business, the public sector and third sector will have to play in attaining it.

However, as if these challenges weren’t big enough, there is another huge difference between the pre – and post – COVID business landscape within which they will need to be addressed. Changes to work patterns and supply chains, combined with labour and skills shortages, are converging on firms, managers and employees in ways that could change the world of business for ever.

Does the post-pandemic world provide us with new opportunities to plan for new organisational futures? Will we be able to reimagine a new workplace that enhances the health and wellbeing of our workforces, creating ‘good work’ for all?  Or will standard economic and business thinking stifle our ability to reimagine and innovate?

There is a world of difference between the structure of our current economy and the one required to limit global warming to two degrees C.


In this new era where the wider societal impact of our research, teaching, and scholarship has never been more important, the current business and management research ecosystem seems to be getting in the way of producing knowledge that is ultimately helpful in addressing the challenges facing business and society.

There remains a huge gulf between the kind of partnerships and co-produced research that is required to address these challenges and what we currently do. If business and management scholars are to have a role to play in creating ‘the best of all possible worlds’, do we also need to change the way we understand, measure and reward good research and good teaching? How will we produce the business and public leaders, managers, engaged scholars and agents for change that we need?


I am thrilled that we will be able to debate these most pressing issues right here in Manchester this summer at BAM 2022, our 36th annual Conference, where business and management scholars, policy setters and business leaders will grapple with these questions.

The conference will consist of keynotes, high-level panel discussions (streamed online and in-person), professional developmental workshops and live paper (full and developmental) presentations.

Indeed, there is a clear link between the conference theme Reimagining business and management as a force for good and the research interests of many colleagues across AMBS.

I for one am certainly looking forward to seeing their work and the research of academics from across the world showcased at this year’s conference.

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