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My Research Program

As an academic of sustainable business, my research program is about social change agency (e.g., Emirbayer and Mische, 1998), and focuses on the implementation of corporate social responsibility and corporate sustainability initiatives in emerging markets, especially in South and Southeast Asia.

I often critique the predominant assumption in the literature that social change in many emerging markets is a consequence of the top-down and macro-level intervention of international development agencies and large multi-national corporations - often headquartered in the Western World. This assumption has led researchers to neglect the voices of the local managers, the local workers and their collectives in those markets, who are often understood as passive beneficiaries of imported guidelines.

I argue that we, as academics and responsible citizens, should pay more attention to the local context. I specifically highlight the importance of exploring how local managers, local workers and their collectives in the Global South organize for social change bottom-up (in both positive and perhaps less positive ways) through their work. While embracing a social constructivist epistemology and a postmodern orientation, much of my research is then based on the following question:


"How do local managers, local workers and their collectives organize for social change bottom-up in emerging markets?"

Although local managers, local workers and their collectives posses many of the agency skills and abilities to organize for social change through their work, we often do not hear much about them: I believe we need a fundamental paradigm shift from the traditional and top-down approach of managing social change.

I am currently involved in two main research projects: 1) implementing social responsibility and sustainability in emerging markets' supply chains (The Supply Chain Project) and 2) building a more inclusive workplace (The Inclusive Workplace Project). Both are explained more in detail in the website.


RESEARCH METHODS

I am particularly passionate about empirically grounded and problem-driven exploratory research. I work with primary and original qualitative data through face-to-face and ethnographic interviews while being on the field. I particularly value observations and participatory examination (Lincoln and Guba 1985). Although I am well aware of the efforts and sacrifices needed to collect evidence through this type of research, I believe that the iterative and in-person approach adds much credence to the validity of the findings. Thus, I adopt an array of different research research approaches that include grounded theory, content analysis and in-depth case study analysis (e.g., Eisenhardt 1989; Eisenhardt, Graebner, and Sonenshein 2016).

During my academic career, I conducted hundreds of interviews and spent months doing research on the field, mostly in Bangladesh, Thailand, Sweden, Japan, and Sri Lanka.


REFERENCES

Eisenhardt, K. M. 1989. “Building Theories from Case Study Research.” Academy of Management Review 14(4):532–550.

Eisenhardt, K. M., M. E. Graebner, and S. Sonenshein. 2016. “Grand Challenges and Inductive Methods: Rigor without Rigor Mortis.” Academy of Management Journal 59(4):1113–1123.

Emirbayer, M., and A. Mische. 1998. “What Is Agency?” American Journal of Sociology 103(4):692–1023.

Lincoln, Y. S., and E. G. Guba. 1985. Naturalistic Inquiry. London: Sage Publications.