Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Seeking a Research Location

Currently Christine and I are enrolled as PhD (Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies) students at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan) and are beginning to pursue conversations with organizations that may be interested in collaborating with us in our research. Specifically we are seeking an organization that is demonstrating excellence in community engagement for social justice. Our objective at this time is to identify an organization that would be willing to partner with us to better understand the significant role that leaders play in engaging organizations and communities in collective and positive action.


The recent financial recession and the high visibility of the “Occupy” movement has brought to the forefront the significant global role that business organizations play in the economic and social fabric of society. In the late 1990’s a view began to emerge that was counter to the prevalent western belief that the sole purpose of businesses should be profit at any expense. Commonly referred to as corporate social responsibility (CSR) this view highlights the social and environmental impact of business in both developed and developing countries when a profit motive is the sole pursuit.

This increased attention to the social and environmental impact of organizations highlights that while organizations may have the capacity to `do good’, and may even have the appearance of `being good’, they too often cause harm. Numerous case studies have documented these harms and highlighted that they include human rights violations and environmental destruction. Frequently the harm results when companies outsource or establish parts of their business in developing countries where labour and environmental regulation is minimal and where the organization’s understanding of diverse cultural perspectives may be low.

Our research interests are twofold:

1. We are interested in studying leaders who want to improve their skill at working with diverse groups of people, specifically those of another culture. This may involve our observations of them in their current interactions and collaboratively building skills to achieve better community outcomes; and,

2. We are interested in studying in communities where interactions between the organization and the community leaders are recognized for resulting in outcomes that further social justice.

We are optimistic that many organizations are beginning to engage with communities and their leaders in ways that recognize mutuality and the importance of learning from and being changed by each other. For the purposes of our PhD. research we are looking for an organization and community where social good and social justice are identified as critical success indicators for the manner in which business is conducted. As researchers we are, through qualitative research approaches, seeking to understand the thought processes of both organizational and community leaders as they work together to create win/win outcomes. Geographically, we are interested in Latin/ Central America.

We appreciate that what we have outlined in this brief overview may raise more questions for you than we are able to address. We would be pleased to talk further with you about our research focus and the type of setting that we think would be a fit for our research interest. We envision working with you and your organization in the time leading up to the on-site research to better understand your organizations culture, your philosophy of leadership, your community partners as well as the benefits that our research may hold for you.

Attached you will find a brief overview of our professional and consulting work that we hope will provide an added sense of the work we do and how we approach it.

If you are interested in discussing our research further or you would like to connect us with others who may be interested in collaborating with us, we can be contacted at penny@theacaciagroup.ca or christine@theacaciagroup.ca

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