Formation of EurOMA

EurOMA was officially created at the beginning of 1994 as a result of joining different European initiatives, from which OMA UK can be considered the embryo of our actual association.

The first idea for forming an association in the operations management field came out of a workshop in Production/Operations Management held at London Business School in January 1983 organised by Chris Voss. At the workshop Bob Johnston, Barbara Morris, Nigel Slack and Colin Armistead identified a need to bring those in the area together on a continuing basis. They invited the workshop organizer, Chris Voss, for a drink at the local pub, appropriately named The Volunteer, and asked him, which he agreed, to volunteer to develop this group. In March 1983 he sent a newsletter to 150 teachers and researchers in the UK with an invitation to join the initiative and after receiving and excellent response the organisation was formalised in September 1983. The next steps of the association were further formalisation and the start of the regular conferences. Increasingly, over the years the conference became more international, having in 1993 28 papers from non-UK authors out of conference 69 papers.

In parallel to the UK OMA, the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management (EIASM), established in 1972 to promote management research in Europe, decided to add “technology related issues” to its portfolio of management topics in 1984. Christer Karlsson was made Professor of Production and Product Development Management. During the early years, this area of EIASM focused on organizing workshops, seminars and doctoral tutorials held in Brussels. The next step was to organize a biannual international conference on Production Management. The first conference was held in 1987 at Twente University (The Netherlands) and 33 full papers were accepted for presentation. They came from 8 European countries as well as from Canada and USA: Members of the scientific committee came also from different countries: During, Krabbendam and Bakker (The Netherlands), Ferdows (France), Bullinger (Germany), Karlsson (Sweden) and Voss (UK). It was an international conference from the start.

The 4th International Production Management conference organized by EIASM was held at London Business School. During the collaboration of Chris Voss and Christer Karlsson in organising this conference it became clear that the two initiatives (the UK OMA and the International Production Management conferences) should merge and combine their strengths. Hence, it was proposed that OMA UK could be the base for a European Association and the International Production Management Conference could be the base for its annual conference. UK OMA held a referendum to ask members if the organisation should migrate to the proposed European Operations Management Association (EurOMA). The result was a 98% yes vote.

Harry Boer, Christer Karlsson and Chris Voss, together with Gerry van Dyck from EIASM met several times to work out the details of the formation of the new association, which was officially formed at the beginning of 1994. The first EurOMA conference was held in Cambridge in 1994 with more than 130 papers published in the proceedings.

Apart from the annual conference over the last years there have been a number of major initiatives arising from EurOMA. The most important ones have been associated with the development of young researchers and emerging faculty in Operations Management.

Based on Karlsson, C. and Voss, C. (2009), “Operations management associations in Europe – a history”, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 29 No. 11, pp. 1093 – 1108.