The 76th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management (AOM), a five day conference of the largest network of business scholars, is currently taking place in Anaheim, California. Within the conference, there are a number of professional development workshops (PDWs), research presentations, and many other events.
Yesterday, members of the SIRLab team hosted a PDW to introduce more business scholars to the SIRLab research methodology. To fully understand the process of working with a partner organization to conduct field experiments, the PDW was hosted at the head office of Goodwill Industries in Los Angeles. The full day workshop brought together 22 scholars from around the world and 17 members of the Goodwill leadership, including CEO and President Jim Gibbons and several board members.
Following a series of welcomes and introductions by the SIRLab team and Goodwill leadership, as well as a tour of the facility, SIRLab Director Geoff Kistruck led the entire group in a discussion on the academic research process and SIRLab’s unique methodology within it. From there, the group split into 3 teams to discuss a specific area for innovation within Goodwill’s organziation. Each of the groups was facilitated by a member of the SIRLab network – Dr. Libby Weber (University of California – Irvine), Dr. David Gras (University of Tennessee), and Dr. Brett Smith (Miami University). The first half of the day was spent dissecting the innovation opportunity as the scholars asked the Goodwill members of the group as many questions as they could. Some of the areas/opportunities included: How to scale some of Goodwill’s current business ventures; Ways to enhance Goodwill’s organizational identity as a hybrid entity (one that is both socially and financially motivated); and, Opportunities for improving the employee experience and minimizing employee turnover in their retail locations.
The second half of the day was spent mapping together everything that the scholars had heard from the Goodwill members, applying different theoretical lenses to the situation, and developing possible field experiments to test an innovative solution. The workshop concluded with a representative of each team presenting their particular area of focus, how the team approached and interpreted it, and ultimately, the field experiment that they would like to try to the entire group. The SIRLab Team’s hope is that at least one of the three potential experiments will continue to move forward with Goodwill, in an effort to both improve the organization and add to our broader understanding of the challenges faced by organizations that are socially oriented.
Overall, the workshop was a wonderful experience for everyone involved. Many of the participants (scholars and Goodwill members) in attendance articulated how valuable and unique the experience was them, as well as the need for more collaboration of this nature. Once again, SIRLab would like to sincerely thank Goodwill Industries and their entire leadership team, for hosting our workshop!
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