The world has changed dramatically since the SMS first met in London in 1981 and this last decade in particular has taught us many lessons. One is that the highly integrated world economy built over the past half-century affords few islands of refuge from economic events happening anywhere on earth. A second is that the rate of growth, considerable resilience and enormous potential of the world's emerging markets is where the action is for the foreseeable future. Thirdly, it has shown us that institutions matter, and matter greatly. Corporations are supported and constrained by these institutions in their strategic pursuits, and may also attempt to shape them to their own advantage. This is the focus of the 31st annual meeting of the Society in 2011.