Imagination and Inspiration: Creating Strategy Breakthroughs in a Discordant World

Imagination and inspiration in business scholarship and practice are needed today more than ever. Our world of business performance and social welfare faces multiple discordant shocks, including climate crises, immigration barriers, technological expansions and shifts, supply chain disruptions, political realignments, trade transformations, and a global viral pandemic. Tackling these challenges requires novel solutions that build on a dynamic combination of imagination and inspiration.

Imagination and inspiration are intimately intertwined. According to Merriam-Webster, imagination is “the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality,” while inspiration is “the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions.” Together, these forces can respond to discord by creating new images and then inspiring action in response to the images.

The theme for the SMS 41st Annual Conference encourages individual and collective imagination and inspiration toward tackling the discordant challenges we face in strategy scholarship and practice. The theme signals the desire for novel combinations of imagination and inspiration that proactively respond to and even shape discord.


Submission System Opens
MARCH 3, 2021
Submission Deadline for Proposals
MARCH 10, 2021
Co-Author Confirmation Deadline
Notification of Review Committee Decisions
JUNE 8, 2021
Presenter Registration Deadline
SUMMER, 2021
Conference Program Available Online
SEPTEMBER 18-21, 2021
SMS Annual Conference

In Memoriam

As many of you will have read in the SMS announcement or elsewhere, our colleague and Virtual Toronto Co-Chair, Will Mitchell, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly just a short time ago.

Our hearts go out to Will's family and close friends. We know that many SMS conference attendees also had important personal relationships with Will, and we share our deepest condolences with all of you.

We will always treasure the opportunity that we had to work with Will on the Virtual Toronto conference, to witness first-hand his passion for excellence, innovation, and desire to make a meaningful difference in the world. He always brought a pragmatic yet inspiring energy to our collaborations, as he did to all of his interactions, with old friends and new colleagues alike. Such leadership is rare and will be deeply missed.

- Mary Crossan, Joanne Oxley, and George Stalk

Access the Virtual Conference

Here is a direct access link to the conference platform! Please note that you will be required to log in and that only fully paid conference registrants have access to the conference platform. The platform will be available to registrants through March 31, 2022.

To access the virtual platform for the first time, we recommend you use the personalized link that will be sent to all conference registrants via email from However, if you cannot find the email or are having issues with the link, you can also access the conference platform using the link above. Please use the email address associated with your SMS Online account and then select "Forgot your password?" link to create a password.

If you have questions, please email the SMS Office (

Announcing the Decision to Go Virtual

After careful consideration, the SMS Board of Directors has voted to hold the SMS 41st Annual Conference virtually this September. This decision was approached very carefully, in partnership with the SMS Toronto Program Chairs and the SMS Executive Office, considering the health and safety of our attendees, the travel and event restrictions imposed by the Canadian government, and the uncertainty surrounding the country’s reopening.

While we had high hopes of being together in beautiful Toronto this year, it is clear that recovery from the pandemic will not happen in time for our annual conference. Instead, the Conference Committee and SMS Executive Office will look to the conference theme of “Imagination and Inspiration” to create another high-quality SMS virtual annual conference, building on the foundation of the 2020 SMS Annual Conference, while incorporating learnings and attendee feedback to make improvements and add exciting new features and activities.

We appreciate your patience as we work to confirm the details for the conference, including the conference schedule and registration fees. At this time, we plan to generally adhere to the timeline available in the “Dates” section of the SMS Toronto website. As new information becomes available, we will share it via email and on the website.

We would like to recognize and thank the 41st Annual Conference Committee and all our volunteers who are contributing to this conference and who will continue to create and innovate in the coming months. We also wish to express our gratitude to our members for your support of SMS. This is another exceptional year in the history of our Society, and we hope that you will continue to support the SMS with your membership and engagement, so that we can keep advancing the strategic management field.


Call for Proposals

Learn more about the conference theme and read the Call for Proposals. Click below to download!