Call for Papers | Paper and Panel Submissions

Call for Papers: 2021 Industry Studies Association Annual Conference 

June 2–4, 2021 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Cambridge, MA, USA 

Submission Deadline - January 15, 2021 

Submission Forms Now Open

Paper Submission Form
Panel Submission Form

The Industry Studies Association (ISA) cordially invites submissions of individual paper abstracts and proposals of panels for the 2021 ISA Annual Conference. The conference will be held June 2–4, 2021 in person (if permitted) at the Samberg Conference Center on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus, with virtual participation also available for key sessions. A determination about going fully virtual will be made in early 2021.

Industry studies research is grounded in observations of firms and workplaces and in a deep understanding of the markets, institutions, and technologies that shape the competitive environment. It draws on a wide range of academic disciplines and fields including economics, history, sociology, and other social sciences; management; marketing; policy analysis; operations research; engineering; labor markets and employment relations; and other related research and policy areas.

The conference welcomes research from all disciplines that incorporates this approach. ISA is especially interested in organized panels and papers that are unique in their emphasis on observation and insight into a particular industry or that consider how knowledge gained in studying one industry can provide insights into other industries.

 The Theme for the 2021 Conference is

Work of the Future Redux: Technology, Innovation, Policy

Proposals for paper and panel submissions are due Friday, January 15th. Those who submitted papers or panels for last year’s conference are encouraged to submit their updated proposals this year.

Last year’s conference theme “Work of the Future” called for submissions on reimagining and redesigning work, drawing on new technological capabilities that can both replace and enhance human physical and increasingly, cognitive activities, and paying attention to both the positive and potentially negative implications for workers, firms and society at large.

After those submissions came in, the world changed with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Now we all had daily evidence of work transformed by needing to keep physical distance when out in public, staying at  home, and juggling work t with family life amid the abrupt change in routines that affected every member of the household.  Meanwhile, economies all over the world were spiraling downward, but with very different consequences across industries and for different types of workers.  Some industries thrived amid the new demands of pandemic lockdown life while others were completely shut down; some jobs continued, with technology facilitation, much as before while other jobs were either eliminated or required that workers take great risks with their health. In addition, we had social unrest in response to systemic racism on a national and global scale, the likes of which we have not witnessed in almost fifty years. 

Given these changes, we are returning to the “Work of the Future” theme but with a broader scope.  We don’t require that submissions address the consequences of the pandemic given the difficulties of carrying out research during this period – although any new work on this topic is certainly welcome.  We also continue to invite submissions that deal with concerns about how fast technological innovations are moving and whether and how they can be harnessed for social benefit. The pandemic hasn’t changed – and has in many ways exacerbated -- the increase in income inequality in most industrialized nations, the decline in middle-skilled jobs, challenges facing educational and health care systems, and the persistence of social and political polarization and disruption.

At the same time, the pandemic has forced creative adaptation on the part of individuals, firms, institutions, and nations – and a rethinking of how the post-pandemic world could be different – and better – than the world we knew before.  We invite submissions that investigate how new technologies are going to shape the possibilities for future changes, both at work, at home, and in our communities; the innovations in work and in organizations discovered during these forced adaptations that can provide the impetus for further change; and the policy ideas that can help us meet the challenges and opportunities of this current moment of economic, social, and political stress and strain.  

Topics of interest relevant to this theme include but are not limited to:

  • How are industries being restructured because of the pandemic? 
  • What are the implications of remote work within jobs, occupations and industries? What are the socio-economic and racial dimensions of these changes?  
  • How are firms and industries rethinking supply chain resiliency in the face of the COVID crisis? 
  • How has the COVID crisis changed the organization of work? Is there evidence of an acceleration of automation?
  • What are characteristics of the work of the future? How do these characteristics manifest similarly or differently across industries?
  • How might work be redesigned to leverage the strengths and weakness of recent technological innovations? How do industries, organizations and workers revise systems and practices to integrate AI, machine learning and other innovations effectively?
  • What industrial policies and strategies are facilitating or undermining the work of the future? Additionally, in what ways does the flexibility (or inflexibility) of a local labor market influence a region’s ability to embrace the work of the future?
  • How does the changing nature of work influence other intra- and inter-industry dynamics?
  • Are some industries immune to the changing nature of work? Will the future be delayed for some, and why?

While the ISA welcomes papers and panels related to the conference theme, a tie to theme is not mandatory. Any papers or panels that build upon the ISA’s foundational interest in firms and industries are welcome. 

We are planning for the 2021 conference to be a great event, with content of interest to attendees across industry tracks, which are listed below. The conference will include “meet the author” sessions highlighting new books on ISA-related topics, two full days of paper sessions, plenaries, and a pre-conference Professional Development Workshop for early career scholars. Plus many opportunities to network (safely!) and enjoy all the great conversations that happen when industry studies scholars get together. Join us!

The Submission Process

Researchers may submit abstracts of up to 250 words for single papers or groups of 3-5 abstracts for organized panels. Panel proposals should identify a theme across the papers included in them (e.g., using one methodology across multiple industries or multiple diverse approaches to a common problem in a single industry). Panels that include practitioners – whether from industry, government, or other organizations – as presenters or discussants are especially welcome.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, January 15, 2021 at 11:59 PM PT.  

Abstracts should be submitted through the ISA submission forms:

Paper Submission Form
Panel Submission Form

In addition to the abstract submission, junior (untenured) faculty may also submit full papers to the Rising Star Best Paper Competition and the Best Paper in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Stream Competition, sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Information on these competitions can be found here:

ISA Awards

Submissions should be made to the research streams listed below. However, these streams are not meant to be exhaustive, and the committee also welcomes submissions in the “General Industry Studies” category. This category may include industry-specific as well as cross-industry papers and panels. The program committee will shift papers and panels from the general industry studies stream to other streams where appropriate.

Research streams:

  • Energy, Power, & Sustainability (Chair: Adam Fremeth, Ivey Business School, U. of Western Ontario; [email protected])
  • Globalization: Management & Policy Implications (Chair: Hiram Samel, MIT Sloan School of Management; [email protected])
  • Health Care (Chair: Tina Wu, New York University, [email protected])
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship (Chair: Mahka Moeen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; [email protected])
  • Labor Markets, Organizations, & Employment Relations (Chair: Ariel C. Avgar, Cornell University, [email protected])
  • Operations & Supply Networks (Chair: Benn Lawson, University of Cambridge; [email protected])
  • Technology Management (Chair: Raja Roy, New Jersey Institute of Technology; [email protected])
  • General Industry Studies (Chair: Ingrid Nembhard, University of Pennsylvania; [email protected])

Please feel free to contact the Conference Program Co-Chairs listed below with questions.