Relevance of Bs and Cs to SMS Membership

Preliminary Survey Results

The vision of the Strategic Management Society is to actively shape the understanding and practice of strategic management while supporting our members’ careers. The SMS was founded on the idea that it would bring together academics, business practitioners, and consultants (“As, Bs, and Cs”), and that engagement from members across these groups was critical to advancing the field of strategic management.

As a part of its “BC Strategy,” SMS conducted a survey of its members to obtain feedback on increasing the Society’s relevance to business practitioners and consultants and how these initiatives could benefit academics.

Members have many, and diverse, ideas on future directions for SMS and how the Society can enhance its contributions to strategic management. The following is a high-level overview of survey responses to select questions.


The survey was conducted May 6-20, 2019. We received 564 responses out of 2,606 invitations, for a 21.5% response rate. The survey was distributed to all 2019 SMS members with valid e-mail addresses.

Most respondents, 75%, were Regular SMS members. About 21% were Student members, while 4% were Founding/Emeritus members. These percentages are in line with SMS membership overall, which includes 76% Regular, 21% Student, and 3% Founding/Emeritus members.

Most respondents had been SMS members for 10 years or less – particularly the business practitioners and consultants.


Respondents generally think current conference content is of moderate or low relevance to B/Cs. The B/Cs are most likely to say it is of low or no relevance to them. (This may be because 51.5% of all B/Cs have never attended an annual conference.) When examining the data by years of SMS membership or number of annual conferences attended, results did not vary. Founding and Student members were slightly more likely to believe SMS conferences are more relevant to B/Cs.

While some respondents feel the current conference content is not entirely relevant to B/Cs, the content could be tweaked a bit and include B/Cs as speakers and audience members. More than 90% of all members feel this would be relevant, though academics were less likely to say B/C involvement would be highly relevant.

Academics were more likely to picture B/Cs attending SMS conferences as speakers than as audience members. Founding members were most likely to see the relevance of involving B/Cs as both speakers and audience members.


More than 75% of the respondents said conference activities that allow As, Bs, and Cs to interact would be of value. Respondents also believe that workshops where B/Cs ask As questions (and vice versa) would be valuable. Fewer respondents called for “new” types of conference speakers.

Member Suggestions

Open-ended questions that allowed members to provide their thoughts on how SMS could better serve its members and involve B/Cs made up a large portion of the survey. Here are some key points:

  • When asked what types of B/Cs would benefit most from attending SMS conferences, opinions varied. While many respondents said that TMTs, board members, and other senior-level leaders would benefit most, some said younger employees or executive MBA-type persons would be ideal. In either case, members suggest involving people who have some experience with/interest in academic research and those who are able to interpret scholarly work. Several respondents said consultants may have more interest than business practitioners, as practitioners may be too involved in day-to-day activities to be able to focus on big-picture strategies.
  • However, respondents said hearing from business practitioners would benefit academics. Academics need to learn about the problems practitioners are facing in order to develop their research. The “correct” group of B/Cs to involve may depend on the conference theme and/or type (annual vs. special). Here are a few comments that represent respondents’ thoughts on which B/Cs would provide value to As:
“Anyone who is willing to share real insights/challenges and not just corporate talking points.”
           Academic (student with consulting experience)
“Those who can provide insight on difficult problems, internationalization and globalization issues, how they reduce risk, experiences expanding in unusual directions, etc.”
           Academic (16-20 year SMS member)
“Those interested in learning and engaging with As, rather than showing off their company.”
           Academic, 11-15 year SMS member
“Those who could help As (us) understand if our research is relevant, helpful, useful, informative, needed.”
           Academic, 6-10 year SMS member
  • Members also provided recommendations on how SMS interest groups and journals could drive engagement with Bs and Cs and new forms of activities that could be undertaken. As the SMS Office and Board explore these suggestions with members/leaders in these areas, we will continue to share outcomes and ideas.