Celebrating 50 Years of Divisions and Interest Groups

In 1936, a small group of management scholars met in Chicago and formed the Academy of Management. The Academy has seen much growth and change in the 85 years following its inception, but none more powerful than the steady growth, development, and diversity of its now 26 Division and Interest Groups.

1969 saw the organization of seven ad hoc committees, arranged to generate professional interest subgroups within the Academy. William Wolf, AOM President at the time, is credited with the design of professional divisions within the Academy soon after, stated: “The policy I used was to reply on sub-culture and to set up a functional rather than a product structure.” The creation of special interest professional divisions came in 1971, bringing about change to the organizational structure of the Academy—a change that was not welcomed wholeheartedly.

It’s documented that the differentiation between one entrepreneurial organization and the groups of specialized interests and academic orientations within the Academy increased with the creation of the professional divisions. George Gore, tasked with preparing a long-range plan for the Academy after helming a very successful Annual Meeting in 1969, supported the prominent effect of the professional and geographic divisions as, “the necessity they create for the organization to produce changes in itself–whether change of services, philosophy, procedures, organizational structure, member relations or any other facet”. Charles Summer, serving on the Board of Governors, countered in a memo with the issues the divisions caused as he saw it, “If the Divisions are a success, they will be a major burden on both manpower and finances”. The differentiation issues were ultimately resolved, and integration was achieved. The establishment of divisions managed to inject new life into the Academy and helped steer its growth through the decade with the creation of additional groups, as well as the introduction of interest groups. Today, it is difficult to imagine the Academy without the divisions, as they represent the management domains where cutting edge research happens, and the communities where members closely associate their professional identity and form network connections.

The Academy’s first Professional Divisions were officially announced in the January, 1971 inaugural issue of The Academy of Management Newsletter: International Management; Management History; Managerial Education in Management; Manpower Management; Operational Analysis; Organization and Management Theory; Organizational Behavior; Organizational Development; Organizational Policy and Planning; and Social Issues of Management. All of these Divisions still exist today, however, several of them have changed their names over the years. Can you guess which one is which now?

We congratulate these trailblazing groups on this significant milestone. Watch for announcements as some of the Divisions gear up to mark their anniversaries, as well as other noteworthy moments in AOM’s history to be featured in issues to come.

Source: Celebrating 100 Years of Modern Management: 50th Anniversary of the Academy of Management, 1986

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