The Knowledge Effect of Conferences - Associate Professor Martin Robertson

Published: 19 August 2019

We spoke to Associate Professor Martin Robertson (Programme Leader MSc Business Event Management at Edinburgh Napier University) about the importance of conferences and the benefit that results from knowledge sharing not only for the field of academic research within the Edinburgh, but also the city as a whole.

Knowledge is golden

The role of Business Events, such as conferences, in the context of our contemporary world has become richer than we could previously have considered. Their capacity to enhance, stimulate and/ or create knowledge, innovation and collaboration - which is vital to city, regional and national success, allows the contributor to describe them here as being Gold and Golden.

Associations and organisers explicitly understand that professional collegiality, networking and knowledge sharing by delegates and the companies or organisations they represent is a vital component of hosting conferences, conventions and meetings. Implicitly, the business tourism opportunity is also a ‘gold’ reward for the town or city host. However, the enormity of the ‘seam of golden benefit’ that Business Events provide is more expansive and considerably more valuable than we could ever have realised. Core to this is the role of Business Events as both conduit and hub for local, national and global knowledge economies. 

Speaker Large Screen

Business Events as knowledge stimuli

Business Events can stimulate the growth of knowledge creation. They give opportunity for the further production of knowledge and, vitally, the utility (usefulness) of that knowledge. The ripple effect of this comes in many forms. This may be industry innovation, or advancing new medical and scientific collaboration and outcomes, or as artistic and cultural invention for industry and its consultants and trainers, or the emergence of new leaders and new professional friendships, or perhaps the emergence of new or larger clusters of expertise, new centres of excellence and resultant collaboration. All of the these are ‘long tail’ outcomes of Business Events.

These long tail outcomes are important measures of the success of Business Events. They indicate future success and provide a measure of the contribution to the knowledge economy. That is, measures of the capacity to drive and lead – as well as respond to external calls for transformation in a competitive and potentially turbulent future. Externally, they may be measures influencing investment decisions. Internally, in a city such as Edinburgh, they encourage entrepreneurialism and creative resilience.

Sharing the knowledge gold

The Business Event or events client, whether they be an association, corporate, public sector or other, always look for the return on investment (ROI). They are also looking for return on opportunity (ROO). One opportunity might be issue related, e.g. public concern with Health, Wellness, Equality, the Climate Emergency positive public associations pay increased levels of dividend. Again, a Business Event can lead or make essential contributions to knowledge opportunities.

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Partners in knowledge

Within this discussion, universities and other education providers have become dynamic elements for Business Events.  Not only do they offer expertise and knowledge fusion –  they can also pursue and identify significant paths of knowledge to be followed or new knowledge designs that can be made to attract interest, cooperation and investment. The Ambassadorial skills and ‘magnetism’ required to attract new partners and retain existing ones, to form collaborations and assure new Association event accounts aren’t created instantly. Finding the right seam and determining its value takes time and application of knowledge. This needs multiple skills sets.

The golden opportunityAs we watch the ups-and-downs of economies and world currencies, you will read of the upwards value of gold. Few things retain their value as well as gold, few things can rise in value like gold. Business events are one of those things. 

See also some related work in

Dr Martin Robertson & Dr Joan McLachie (10/05/19) ‘Business Events – the application of design and transforming access’ ATLAS Business Tourism 2019, Porvoo, Finland

Dr Martin Robertson (06/12/18) Keynote presentation and workshop facilitation ‘Ambassador Programmes & Competitive Resilience’  at  VisitBritain/Best Cities Global Alliance Advanced Ambassador Programme Workshop (06/12/2018)

Dr Leonie Lockstone-Binney & Dr Martin Robertson (11/7/14) ‘Developing a standard instrument to assess intangible event outcomes from the Ambassador perspective, Global Events Congress 1V, (July 9-11th, 2014) Flinders University, Adelaide

Dr Leonie Lockstone-Binney, Dr Paul Whitelaw, Dr Martin Robertson, Dr Olga Junek & Mr Ian Michael, (2014) The motives for ambassadors bidding for international association meetings and events Event Management – an international journal. 18(1), pp 65-74. ISSN: 1525-9951

Professor Margaret Deery, Dr Martin Robertson, Dr Olga Junek  & Dr Leonie Lockstone-Binney (2010) ‘Capacity enrichment and merit enhancement in Business Event Education’ 7th Atlas business tourism conference, Business tourism education in times of changes ESHTE, Lisbon-Cascais-Sintra, Portugal 14-17th November

Dr Olga Junek, Dr Leonie Lockstone-Binney & Dr Martin Robertson (2012) ‘The way forward: event education and the future’ in T.R. Tiller (ed.) Conference Proceedings Best En Think XII, Sydney: University of Technology Sydney, p329-332. ISBN 978-0-9806738-3-8



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