emma Conference 2021

We are happy to announce that our 2021 Annual Conference takes place in Jönköping, 27-29 October 2021. #emmaSweden 2021 is hosted by the Media, Management and Transformation Center (MMTC), Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping University, Sweden.

Theme: Media Management and Sustainability

It is very hard to be against sustainability. In fact, the less you know about it, the better it sounds… The questions connected with sustainability are genuine and deeply felt and very complex. The combination of deep feeling and complexity breeds buzzwords, and sustainability has certainly become a buzzword (Solow, 1991).

In the last 30 years, sustainability has moved beyond its buzzword status. In 2015, all United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, setting a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”. The agenda recognizes “that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests” (GA UN, 2015). In management, notions like corporate social responsibility (Carroll, 1999; Garriga & Mele, 2004) or the Triple Bottom Line (Elkington, 1998; Norman & MacDonald, 2004) have gained currency, helping to illuminate sustainability issues and drive social and environmental reporting and performance in organizations and their interactions with financial outcomes.

The concept of sustainability centers on the capacity of a system to adapt and survive into the long-term future (Costanza & Patten, 1995): a sustainable system is one which survives or persists. Sustainability requires complex and dynamic equilibria among economic, social, and ecological aspects, and the short-, long- and longer-term perspectives (Lozano, 2008). Recently, the notion of sustainability, in a context of digitally transformed consumer behavior and financially struggling organizations, has also entered scholarly discussions on media. 

Societal, cultural, environmental, legal, technological, market and other macro-level interdependencies influence the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the dominant means of mass communication (broadcasting, publishing, and the Internet). At the organizational level, the economic sustainability of media players – i.e. their capacity to remain in the market for long time – may depend on efforts and activities as diverse as innovation and technology, collaboration, knowledge management, processes, purchase and sustainability reporting and communication (Baumgartner & Ebner, 2010). Similarly, media organizations’ social sustainability – anchored on their positive influence on present and future relationships and stakeholders, such as their value chains or their local communities (Figge et al.; 2002) – will hang on critical organizational strategies in human capital development, corporate governance, internal motivation and incentives, ethical behavior or corporate citizenship. And finally, media organizations’ use of resources, emissions, or waste also carry a significant impact on ecological sustainability not always addressed.

Scholars have started to provide insights and overviews on how sustainability has been applied and explored in the world of media firms (e.g. Berglez et al., 2017). However, media management research has still to provide greater understanding on how media organizations respond to the imperative of sustainability (Lubin & Esty, 2010) and how economic, social, and environmental performance interact. Importantly, media management scholars also have a significant–but yet unfulfilled–role in asking questions and helping to make collective decisions related to what media systems, subsystems and characteristics of them, we should be interested in sustaining (Costanza & Patten, 1995).  

We welcome all topics related to sustainability issues relevant for media management research to the upcoming emma conference. These include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Sustainability in media’s business, social and environmental performance, such as:
    • The relation between media ownership and market structures with media sustainability.
    • The role of government in serving – through actions, taxes, subsidies and regulations – media sustainability.
    • Sustainability as a source of competitive advantage and innovation in media.
    • How media companies perceive, define and manage sustainability and how they deal with contradictions different dimensions of sustainability may create.
    • Gender equality in media organizations.
    • Social sustainability of offline media in a digital world.
    • The effects of Press freedom, ethics, democratization and other conditions for independent media on media sustainability.
    • The role of the media in communicating the science on sustainability issues.
    • The impact of media ownership and management on how sustainability issues are covered.
  • The intersection between sustainability initiatives and media activity, such as:
    • The role of communication technologies in companies’ sustainability.
    • The use of media to address sustainability issues by educators, corporations and organizations’ stakeholders. 
    • The use of media as a legitimation tool for sustainability reporting.
    • The topic of sustainability as challenge for media and journalism.

Depending on the context and perspective, sustainability can appear an evolving concept whose meaning is dependent on the situation. As ideology, it may seem, at times, political and negotiated and, often, normative, ethical and moral beyond questioning. 

On some occasions, it may take the form of a vision to work towards, perhaps a potential catalyst for change. Rather than as a major conceptual impediment, we see the vague and ambivalent nature of the concept of sustainability – in its “enormous canvassing and heuristic capacity” (Wals & Jickling, 2002) – as a great starting point to exchange views and ideas, providing a convenient stepping stone in the evolution of media management scholarship. 

emma welcomes both paper and poster proposals that address either the specific conference theme or other issues regarding the management of media organizations.

The conference program can be found here.

For information on the conference and registration, click here.