ISA 2020 Conference Announcement

We are writing with overdue news about what the leadership of the Industry Studies Association (ISA) has decided about our next two annual conferences. Our delay is due to needing to hear with certainty, from authorities of various jurisdictions, what is and isn’t possible given COVID-19 concerns. We have now been able to make new plans that ensure the safety of our community and the opportunity to gather without facing onerous and untenable cancellation fees. Our apologies for any confusion, inconvenience, or anxiety caused by this delay.

Today we are announcing, to all of you who submitted papers and panels for the 2020 conference and via our website, the following update. In light of the restrictions established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ISA is making three adjustments. First, we are converting the conference scheduled on June 4-5, 2020 into an abbreviated virtual event on those same dates. Second, we have established a new plan for the 2021 in-person conference, retaining this year’s theme (“Work of the Future”) and location (MIT in Cambridge, MA). Third, the research stream chairs and the board will be planning a series of ongoing activities to be scheduled during the year between the virtual and in-person conferences. 

This year’s virtual conference is intended to bring ISA members (and curious newcomers) together for two abbreviated days of program content. Our goals are threefold:

  1. To refresh and renew our appreciation of what is special about the “industry studies” lens and the multi-disciplinary, multi-method approaches that we share;
  2. To generate and share insights about the challenges facing industries, both domestically and globally, during the COVID-19 pandemic – including possible remedies and paths towards recovery;
  3. To create a virtual sense of connection among all of us in the ISA community in spite of the physical distance separating us.

Please click here for program details for the 2020 virtual conference. While many components of this program are already confirmed and in place, others are still being organized. We will be sending regular updates until the program is finalized – hopefully very soon. Registration information will also be provided as soon as possible.

The new dates for our next in-person conference are Wed-Friday, June 2-4, 2021. As noted, the theme “Work of the Future” will be carried over as we anticipate that its relevance will only increase. The location will stay the same: Samberg Conference Center at MIT’s Sloan School.

We anticipate keeping our usual schedule for 2021, with submissions in January and acceptances by early March. Registration fees and hotel rates will be lowered as much as possible, anticipating that ISA members are likely to face future restrictions on their budgets.

We will ask all of you who submitted a paper or panel for the 2020 conference to make new submissions for the 2021 conference. This will keep our content for 2021 fresh and up-to-date while avoiding the difficulty of choosing from among two years of submissions.

Meanwhile, all of us (the Industry Studies Conference Committee (ISCC), chairs of the research streams, and the board of directors) are looking carefully at the content submitted to the 2020 conference, with two things in mind:

  • First, the chair of each research stream is going to propose one session of content at the virtual conference. This is unlikely to be an exact replica of what was planned for the original conference. Instead it will be modified to address the issues of the day, very likely in a format that combines researchers in new ways.
  • Second, while the ISCC plans the 2021 in-person conference, the research stream chairs and the board are going to be planning a series of ongoing activities to be scheduled during the year between the virtual and in-person conferences. A likely approach is a monthly webinar with different topics, formats, and speakers. You might be able to ‘present’ or otherwise get some feedback on your 2020 paper in this venue. We will survey all of you to probe your interest and availability vis-à-vis one of these new activities.

This is a challenging time -- for the world; for all of us personally; for our universities, our professional affiliations, and our research and teaching. ISA is rising to the challenge by demonstrating that we are working actively to support, organize, and mobilize the insights of industry studies scholars for meaningful impact both in academia and in the worlds of practice and policy. Thank you for your ongoing support for ISA during this challenging time. We look forward to “seeing” you virtually this coming June and in-person in June 2021!

Warmest regards,
John Paul MacDuffie

Larry “Chip” Hunter
Past President