There is a place where the boundaries between the academic disciplines, between cultures, between hierarchies and between economic theory and entrepreneurial practice disappears, at least for a short time. I imagine when I attend a conference at the Karlshochschule, I will feel at home.

ReThinking Management Conference 2014

Management thinking and management practice are largely influenced by traditional economic approaches that seek to conceptualize the economy positivistically and functionalistically according to rational-objectivist principles. For a longer time and in light of present crises, there has been no lack of calls for fundamental reformations of the economics and management theory, to conceive them anew as part of the social sciences and humanities. Although initial attempts for such reorientation and reconceptualization are evident, they are still in their infancy and in need for further advancement and realisation.

With the establishment of fields such as critical management studies (cf. Spicer, Alvesson, and Kärreman 2009) or the cultural economy (cf. Grossberg 2010) in academia, new ways of thinking and approaches have developed that supplement and often go against mainstream management theory and practice. What these approaches have in common is that they all are trying, in very different ways, to open up management for cultural studies, the social sciences and the humanities and to promote, in a broad sense, an independent “cultural turn” both for corporate and management theory as well as for management practice.

The conference on “ReThinking Management 2014: The Impact of Cultural Turns” begins with these orientations and pursues the goal of initiating a systematic dialog between current core concepts of the social sciences, humanities and management theory and practice. Here, in the spirit of Bachmann-Medick (2010), we believe that “cultural turns” are to be conceived as a plurality today. Following the general orientation of the humanities and social sciences towards culturally relevant issues, the plural “cultural turns” represent current moves, or new orientations that cut across and go beyond the cultural sciences. Topics and concepts such as performance, materiality, embodiment, space, mediality, narration, and sense-making as well as translation, interculturality and transculturality, have moved more and more into the forefront in the last few decades.

ReThinking Management 2014 pursues the main idea that management theory is not to be understood as a sub-discipline of economic sciences, but rather as an inter- and trans-disciplinary field with a decidedly cultural perspective. In fact, the topics and concepts listed above, along with related issues, questions and methods, play an increasingly important role. Their relevance, potential, and influence both in management theory as well as in practice are the central foci of this conference.

Conference Website

Touring Consumption Conference 2013

Touring in terms of travel, tourism or varying aspects of mobilities contribute substantially to particular conventions and rituals of consumer practices, especially with an eye towards the enactment of scripts. However, touring consumption delineates a kind of performance that is not only reproduced, but is productive and emergent in its own right.

Hence, the more traditional conceptions of tourist, pilgrim, vagabond, refugee, expatriate, international student or business traveler are becoming more and more diffused with notions of what are considered local, regular or insider, and need to be re-examined in the light of a differentiated, complex and individualized everyday perspective.

On the other hand, it is as important to consider a touristification of society in which touring as an everyday metaphor can be used to encapsulate new forms of mobilities as societal, economic, consumptive or scientific phenomena. At this conference, we wish to engage ‘Touring Consumption’ through interdisciplinary and cross-methodological approaches that collapse the poles of materialities and discourses, exteriority and interiority, body and mind, interpretation and meaning, presence and representation, ethics and aesthetics, and form and performance.

The Touring Consumption 2013 conference took place from 24th to 25th October in Karlsruhe and was organized by Prof. Dr. Desmond Wee, Prof. Dr. Stephan Sonnenburg and the TC2013 Team.

Conference Website

Re-Thinking Diversity Conference 2012

In a dynamic globalized world, change in societies, markets and organizations is becoming more and more crucial. From a competitive point of view, it is important to explore diversity and better comprehend its complexity. The narrative of a society or a culture is constituted by multiple layers of differentiation, segregation, social categorization and identity. The management of diversity in organizations and in society, e.g. in urban centers and their governance, has been of growing interest in the last decades.

Changes in the demographic structures of the population, the migration flux, multiculturalism, the rising awareness concerning minorities’ rights, gender studies and so on lead to a complex picture of what “diversity” means. It is largely acknowledged that diversity is a rather complex phenomenon, which defies simple definition. In many studies, nevertheless, the presumption that diversity can be described as a mono-causal matter remains unexpressed.

We know, however, that a mono-causal view does not lead to an adequate analysis of diversity. It is unlikely that diversity is aligned with only one of the common variables, such as age, gender, nationality, etc.. Diversity is closely linked to the constitution of social images, social constructions of reality. The perception of a reality of this kind is manifested in many different forms.

Therefore, we need to develop new perspectives on the topic, making use of inter-disciplinary, pluri-methodical, and border-crossing approaches. The aim of this conference is to advance knowledge about diversity by disseminating new research and best practices and by encouraging the evolution of new ideas, themes and questions. Karlshochschule International University aims to enrich the dialogue between academics and practitioners, who often approach diversity from different perspectives.

The conference adopted an international and interdisciplinary approach to address the theme in greater complexity. “Re-thinking diversity” in 2012 continued a series of conferences that reflect Karlshochschule’s interpretive approach towards business administration, strategic management and entrepreneurship, by introducing instruments of semiotics, linguistics, narratology and others.

The conference was dedicated to “diversity”: in a dynamic globalized world, change in societies, markets and organizations is becoming more and more crucial. From a competitive point of view, it is important to explore diversity and better comprehend its complexity.

Conference Website

Branded Spaces - Conference on Contemporary Branding 2011

The main objective of the Branded Spaces Conference (Pre-Conference Day, two-day Conference with Open Space, an innovative method for the moderation of large groups) was to illuminate the explorative and applied status quo of brand and space, to discuss the latest findings of research and practice and to provide the participants from home and abroad with a platform for interdisciplinary exchange.

Especially the Open Space workshop was intended to interactively and cooperatively develop new ideas concerning the view on brands and brand management in space. The Open Space was accompanied by moderators with relevant experience and their respective teams, who also ensured the infrastructural prerequisites, in particular the documentation.

The Conference took place in Karlsruhe, Germany, on Thursday 15th and Friday 16th of September, 2011. On Wednesday 14th of September a Pre-Conference Day was held especially for students.

The Conference programme included speeches and paper sessions on Thursday and an Open Space workshop to discuss and develop the theme on Friday.

Conference Website

Narrative & Innovation Conference 2010

The first conference on “Narrative and Innovation” was organized by Prof. Dr. habil. Andreas Müller and Prof. Dr. Lutz Becker at Karlshochschule International University in Karlsruhe, Germany, in 2010.

It forms part of Karlshochschule’s interpretive approach towards business administration, strategic management, and entrepreneurship, by introducing instruments of semiotics, linguistics, narratology, and others.

The topic of the conference therefore is open to a bundle of scientific and industrial perspectives.

Conference Website