Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Challenging Businesses As A Consultant For Sustainable Change In A Global Community


Corporate leaders under the “Action Research” diploma course get trained to bring positive impacts in the world through business.

Dailycsr.com – 27 April 2018 – If one were to sum up some of the “pressing” challenges faced by the world, the list would include “population growth, migration, globalisation, shifting centres of economic power, increasing inequality of life and the deterioration of the environment”.
Many activists for change have come to identify innovation and change as sociotechnical phenomenon; therefore treading the “standard” path leads one to nowhere, whereby reiterating the need for “more radical approach” in order to balance the “dynamics of stability and change”.
While evaluating the good business practice at a global level, the leaders need to “take a look at themselves, as well as their organisations”. The Hult International Business School’s “Executive Doctorate in Organisational Change at Ashridge Executive Education”, prepares “CEOs, managers, entrepreneurs or individuals” alike to face the question through the discipline of ‘Action Research’. In the words of the Academic Director, Dr Steve Marshall:
“As a business school we’re obviously rooted in business, but at the same time we’re challenging business. We are deliberately radical and we are looking for people who want to change their organisations – be it a church or charity, a hospital or a multinational – for the better. What really interests us is how the individual, the researcher, can bring about change in existing social systems.
“We rate our students on the impact they have, not the number of times someone reads their research”.
The ‘Expert Model’ research discipline requires one to arrive at a “hypothesis” with a methodology of working out the same in the field level. The researchers visit organisations to study their “practices, conduct focus groups, opinion polls or surveys” for coming up with a “diagnosis”. With the control of the research in the hands of the researchers, the participants are not involved as the former arrive at the conclusions.
The ‘Action Research’ of Ashridge method is a personal approach which involves the perspectives in the “First Person, Second Person, Third Person”, while Marshall added:
“First, we look at ourselves as researchers, understand our interest and motives in this research, how we are seeing the problem and why? Our concept is that first the researcher must know themself before going on to work with others.
“Secondly, in the ‘second person’ part, we explain our ideas to the participants and get their feedback on the research and our methods so that they share the issues and the research is as participatory as possible. If researchers simply fire questions, it is another case of the subjects being told what to do and you are far less likely to achieve anything of consequence. If, on the other hand, we convene the community and ask: what’s the best way to get this knowledge? and we join with the participants as co-researchers and co-inquirers, they will be more likely to speak up and the results will be more valuable”.
“And ‘third person’ means we take our research out into the world and make sure it has impact. While the doctorate is academic, this is nevertheless research for positive change – rather than research for publishing in some arcane journal and adding only to our theoretical knowledge.”
Furthermore, Marshall continues:
“In the thesis we are looking for the impact of the individual, at how they have convened a conversation in a different way so as to make a difference and change an organisation.
“It is so easy for individuals to think ‘but what can I do? How can I make a difference?’ and feel deflated, but individuals can make an impact”
In Marshall’s words:
“We, at Ashridge, see ourselves as consultants for change. Our role is not to oppose business but to challenge it and we believe that helping to develop individuals and training people to go out and change the world is the most important work we can do.
“Many people reach the stage when they question what they want to do with their life, and how they can meaningfully contribute to the good of the global community and this doctorate is precisely for those who want to initiate and sustain change within their organisations. It is aimed at those who want to make a unique contribution in their chosen field.”
The doctorate course of Ashridge challenges the participants on their “implicit and explicit assumptions” while the participants also need to work out the implications of their assumption methods. Declaring the research as a “radical doctorate”, Marshall warns:
“Getting people to speak out, break the rules, be creative and challenge hierarchies can have consequences. When we get students to subject themselves, as well as their organisations, to research, to challenge their own motives and practices, they can change in ways that are shocking even to themselves.
“This is a very developmental program and this, in itself, carries risks and can put students in a vulnerable position. We, as a faculty, are very aware that our role is as much in supporting students as in challenging them.
“Some will end up changing their own roles – even their whole lifestyles – quite significantly.”