The organization of the Chapter’s conference was progressively developed by improving the reviewing process and introducing special tracks, dedicated workshops and panels on contemporary topics and phenomena. There have also been sessions celebrating the life and contributions of eminent scholars Michael Z Brooke, Alan Rugman, John Dunning, Colm Kearney, and Jim Bell. Special tracks in the annual conference have been run with many organisations, for example the Royal Geographic Society and UNCTAD. Conference themes became increasingly interdisciplinary and contemporary, engaging with new challenges and trends in the international arena such as multispeed global economy, relevance of IB management and business research.
Major developments in the conference of the Chapter include the addition of a doctoral workshop in 1993 organised by Jeremy Clegg and the introduction of various doctoral prizes. In 1999, Marion Jones formalised doctoral panels to provide advice to doctoral students by senior IB scholars including eminent scholars such as Alan Rugman, Peter Buckley, Steven Young and John Dunning. The doctoral panels were highly successful and have continuously been running at AIB UKI conferences using the systems developed by Marion. In the early 90s, reform in the UK higher education sector led to the establishment of new UK universities and senior members of the Chapter, in particular, Stephen Young and Fred Burton reached out and encouraged researchers in IB in the new universities to become involved with the Chapter.
The annual conference has had numerous influential keynote speakers and special sessions involving high profile policy makers, official of international organisations and senior executives of MNEs (Oxfam, World Bank Group, Bank of Santander, OECD). A notable keynote was given in 1992 by Oliver Williamson. In special panel sessions and keynote speakers at AIB UKI conferences high profile policy makers and practitioners have brought the views and ideas of users of IB research to conference delegates. For example, in Manchester in 2015 there were speakers from the OECD, Oxfam and German British Chamber of Commerce and in Birkbeck in 2016 speakers included representatives from the World Bank Group, Commonwealth Commission, Bank of Santander.
Experience of organizing and developing the annual conference led to the development of a detailed and practical guide by Frank McDonald, Colin Wheeler and Sharon Loane on how to organise the annual conference. This template for organizing the annual conference has been used by other Chapters such as the Indian and MENA Chapters. The administrative and organisation side of the papers section for conferences were significantly improved by Rudolf Sinkovics who introduced a system based on the Comftool submission and review system and the use of dedicated panels for selecting prizes. The editors of the Palgrave Macmillan AIB series book engaged with the conference organizers to promote the profile and quality of the book. The book series has also been crafted to provide papers and commentaries that centre on the key themes of conference.
The conference has developed side events and pre-conference events to complement the main conference, for example, on methodology and pedagogy sessions. These sessions are normally geared towards doctoral students and early career researchers and include workshops for doctoral and early career on qualitative and quantitative methods and key research issues in IB. At these workshops doctoral and early career researchers get the opportunity to discuss key issues with senior IB researchers. Examples of these pre-conference activities include statistical workshops on structural equation modelling involving small groups of 3-4 participants and 2-3 senior researchers. Regular workshops connected to the annual conference have been, led by Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki, to develop expertise in qualitative research. From the mid-2000s annual conferences included regular meet the editor sessions to provide guidance on how to publish in IB and management journals such as JIBS, JWB, IBR, BJM, AMP, JIM, MBR and Business and Strategy Review.
Over the years, several prizes and awards were introduced including best conference paper and two awards for doctoral papers. The annual conference has awarded the John Dunning lifetime achievement award to eminent scholars based on their contribution to IB research, support of the work of the Chapter and encouragement of the next generations of IB researchers. The inaugural lifetime achievement award went to Stephen Young and subsequent prices were received by Peter Buckley, Mark Casson, Bob Pearce and John Child.