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Journeys through a Research Agenda: From Corporate Killing to Composting.

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Presentation on theme: "Journeys through a Research Agenda: From Corporate Killing to Composting."— Presentation transcript:

1 Journeys through a Research Agenda: From Corporate Killing to Composting.

2 BRASS’s Mission The Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society exists to understand and promote the key issues of business sustainability, accountability and social responsiveness, through research into key business relationships. The Centre will pursue a research agenda based on academic excellence, relevance to key user groups and accessibility in dissemination.

3 What types of relationships ? …. Commercial Relationships Social Relationships Environmental Relationships Communication Relationships Legal Relationships Financial Relationships BRASS Research Agenda

4 BRASS’s Evolution Summer 2000 - Bidding & Planning Spring 2001- Funding awarded October 2001 - Established April 2002 - Fully operational. November 2002 - Formal opening. Mix of researchers in the 3 “Parent” depts giving 10-25 % of their time to BRASS related research; full time centrally located researchers (7 - now 13); 3 Directors, 3 Support Staff, an Advisory Board; 4 PhD students;

5 First Generation BRASS Projects. Developing Sustainability Indicators for Wales; Micro-Factory Retailing in the Automotive Industry; Sustainable Marketing Knowledge Network (Smart Know: Net); UK Institutional Investors’ Attitudes to Socially Responsible Investment; Sustainability Management through the Supply Chain; Lessons from Foot & Mouth: Legal, Policy and Planning Perspectives; CSR – New Dimensions in Research and Practice; Accounting for Taste: Accountability and Regulation in European/UK Food; Most developed/conducted with business/policy users.

6 Initial Attempts to Model our Research Agenda : As Three Broad Themes Re-defining Business Responsibilities Re-configuring Exchange Relationships (Supply Chains & Industry Structures) Re-conceptualising Business Communications SUSTAINABILITY SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITYACCOUNTABILITY

7 Issues from our Research Agenda (1) Initial planning for a hypothetical centre – internal & external stakeholders reacted differently to the idea of a centre & to its reality; The challenge of interdisciplinary work – takes years to make a reality, and a Centre helps to create the right conditions to “fuse” disciplines; How to manage “donated” contributions – staff time as “Host Institution Contribution” can be challenging to manage and integrate; Phase 1a. - corralling & the search for coherence: early progress involves rounding up and integrating researchers & research streams;

8 Issues from our Research Agenda (2) Different roles for external stakeholders, they can take on various roles and move between them : –Partner; Sponsor; Customer; Critic; Subject; Advisor; Competitor; Audience; Academic preference vs. user expectation – academics like variety, novelty & eclecticism, users tend to like “focus”, “clarity” & definition; Phase II as a research & communications opportunity – planning future projects can present opportunities to communicate about past progress; The “What exactly are you about ?” question was a recurring theme/demand from our Advisory Board.

9 Expressing Our Research Agenda In response to Advisory Board pressure to present a clearer vision of our research agenda, we tried : Various systems diagrams & “maps”; “Force field” analysis of drivers & mechanisms for change; The “three level” approach showing projects at company/industry/societal levels of focus was viewed as helpful, but still didn’t get it all onto one page.

10 BRASS Research Agenda (Level 1) Businesses as Physical Transformation Systems Resource Extraction Inbound Logistics Design Decisions Purchasing Decisions Manufacturing & Facilities Outbound Logistics Product Use End of Life Product Environmental Impacts - Pollution, Waste, Biodiversity Impacts, Resource Depletion Reverse manufacturing Recycling Reuse Waste Energy Generation Appendix 1.

11 BRASS Research Agenda (Level 2) Businesses as Systems of Commercial Relationships Materials Suppliers EmployeesInvestors & Creditors Capital Equipment Suppliers Professional Service Firms Transport & Logistical Services Retailers, Agents & Distributors Customers Strategic Partners Rivals Energy Suppliers Sub- Contractors Businesses as Physical Transformation Systems Appendix 1.

12 BRASS Research Agenda (Level 3) Businesses in the Context of Societal Stakeholders and Relationships Commercial Processes & Relationships Regulatory Pressures UK & EU General Social Concerns & Attitudes Scientific Evidence Public Policy Investors’ Concerns & Attitudes Business/Community Impacts & Interactions International Context Media Coverage Appendix 1.

13 Expressing Our Research Agenda Our research was represented as three broad themes or a set of more than 30 projects, we realised we needed some integrating “Superthemes”. We started with 8; Boiled these down to 6 – took those to our Advisory Board and posed the questions that follow; They said “6 is too many”; So we refined it down to 3 Superthemes and a set of key industries (in relation to sustainable development);

14 Key Questions Do the chosen themes give us the coherence we’ve been looking for ? Is it the right mix of themes (and industries) ? Is it the right mix of building on strengths and opening up new avenues ? Does it offer opportunities for academic research will be of use to practitioners and policy makers ? What have we missed ? Are there potential issues and opportunities which can be to some degree anticipated that we could perhaps position ourselves to address ?

15 Industry Focus on Key Industries for SD Our existing flagships : Food (& Drink ?) & Farming, Electronics, Automotive (expanded to transport & mobility ?) Our acquired strengths : Financial services, Waste, Mining New opportunities for internal/external partnerships ? Energy; Construction and housing; Tourism; Oil & Petrochemicals:

16 Superthemes (Version III) Sustainable Consumption and Production; Supply chain work, product durability, MFR, remanufacture, environmental & social marketing, labelling, FairTrade, PSS; Responsible Management Thinking; Making business more accountable, business ethics, CSR, SMEs, leadership, sustainable management systems, precautionary principle, SRI & SEED, supplier partnering; Socio-Environmental Impacts of Business: Health & biosecurity, contaminated land, community/business relationships, biotech, waste, biodiversity, human rights, regulation, work-life balance, corporate killing, indicators; Some projects/issues will span themes and some will combine themes with key industries.

17 THE GIVENS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT The seeds of your own destruction were sown in the proposal document; There’ll be too little time, money, skill, knowledge to do what you’ve agreed to do; Sponsors will be ungrateful and over-demanding; The project will over-run on time and cost; Your Centre Director will want you to teach, do consultancy, write papers, sit on national committees, quell revolutions, charm sponsors - anything but manage your project….. The Advancement of Scientific Knowledge will appear to be missing from the agenda.


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