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TADC2014 - the hot ticket for PhD students

This year’s prestigious Trans-Atlantic Doctoral Conference (TADC), hosted by London Business School (LBS), has been hailed as a resounding success by attendees, with conference organiser David Schoenherr PhD2012 delighted by the positive feedback he has received from delegates.

TADC, co-sponsored by the Deloitte Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (DIIE), is in its 14th year, and has become one of the most anticipated events in the global PhD calendar. Organised by LBS’s doctoral students solely for their peers across North America and Europe, the event attracts the brightest and best PhD talent from the two continents.

The 28 schools represented at this year’s conference, which took place from 8-10 May, included Harvard, Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, INSEAD, the London School of Economics and LBS.

Schoenherr, a second-year PhD student in LBS’s Finance Faculty, believes that LBS’s role as a conference host is a key factor in attracting delegates from some of the world’s leading business schools.

Not only is LBS’s own prestige seen as a guarantee of quality, but the opportunity to meet with LBS faculty outside of the conference sessions is also highly prized. Organisers facilitate this through a ‘meet the faculty’ lunch.

“There is a very prominent line-up of faculty here, especially on the side of entrepreneurship” says Jun Huang, a final year PhD student at Columbia Business School in New York City.

“I always try to reach out to some of them during the faculty receptions or schedule one-on-one meetings with them,” adds Huang, who this year presented at TADC for the third time, speaking on ‘Knowledge is prudence: How business training affects entrepreneurs in a field experiment’.

Prestigious gathering
Meeting with faculty is not the only draw, however. High-quality feedback and opportunities to network with peers are two of the most valuable benefits consistently cited by past TADC speakers. These benefits are encouraging more and more students to submit papers for consideration each year.

With a limited number of presentation spots available – for TADC2014, just 110 of the 255 submitted papers were accepted – competition to get on the conference platform is getting tougher, and this is pushing up the quality of accepted papers.

Students who get through the stringent selection process believe that speaking at TADC will have a positive impact on their academic career prospects.

“As far as doctoral student conferences go, this is one of the more prestigious ones, so presenting here is good for my career,” says Elad Green, a fifth-year PhD student in the strategy track in New York University’s Management Department.

Green, who presented a paper at TADC2014 on ‘Parallel search as a competitive response: How technological positioning affects R&D strategy’, adds: “I can say, as an advanced PhD student, that I have presented at LBS – at this specific conference.

“It’s a good sign, because this is a top school. People know that there’s a screening process and you’ve been chosen to present in a good environment.”

Open debate
As a conference exclusively for doctoral students, TADC has gained a reputation for enabling delegates to openly and honestly discuss their research, free from the pressures of having to impress senior faculty staff.

“The TADC set-up is unique and very collegial,” says Andy Wu, a third-year PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania, who attended TADC2014 to present a paper on ‘R&D production team composition and firm-level innovation’.

“It’s entirely a student conference, so there’s no faculty allowed in any of the sessions. It’s one of the few places where you can feel comfortable presenting and can get legitimate feedback.”

Unusually for academic conferences, TADC features presentations from seven major subject areas: strategy and entrepreneurship; organisational behaviour; marketing; management science and operations; finance; economics; and accounting.

“One of the most important objectives of the conference is to bring together young researchers to build networks,” says Schoenherr.

“What’s unique about the content is that it brings together students from different areas of study, allowing them to learn about different types of research and methodologies. In the past, this has encouraged research collaboration, and there are people who met at TADC who are working together today.”

The brightest and best
The DIIE has been a TADC sponsor since the Institute’s inception in 2011, and it places great value on the conference’s concept.

“Backing such student-led initiatives is important,” says the DIIE’s Executive Director Jeff Skinner. “Taking away organisers’ fundraising worries allows them to focus on planning a high-quality event with top-rate academic content, which ultimately enhances LBS’s reputation.”

Co-sponsorship gives the DIIE the opportunity to raise its own profile with potential future faculty. Via its relationship with the global professional services firm Deloitte, the Institute is able to offer PhD students funding for the penultimate year of their doctorates.

At TADC2014, 15 of the 110 accepted papers were presented as part of the strategy and entrepreneurship strand, and the event attracts some of the world’s best PhD students specialising in this area – making it an appealing arena for the the DIIE to be involved with.

“We’ve got the brightest and best PhD students coming over, and we want to recruit the brightest and best,” says Skinner. “The funding that the DIIE can offer is one reason why these students should consider coming to LBS for the next stage of their academic careers.”

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