Friday, April 23, 2010

Social Responsibility

Several years ago, Mary put a fair bit of effort into founding the Social Responsibility Division within the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada. Frankly, I had been surprised that such a thing hadn't already existed, but the truth is that business ethics has always been a relatively minor academic interest until the series of scandals that followed de-regulation under Reagan, such as the Enron debacle. Of course, with the recent near collapse of the banking and insurance industries, headlines about auto maker bailouts, and so on, the need for greater emphasis on social responsibility has become pretty obvious. Anyway, a number of colleagues told Mary she was foolish to devote so much time and energy to what's called 'service' in academia -- that is, spending time organizing conference streams and advocating for social responsibility to be recognized as a key specialization within the discipline -- when what counts for tenure is teaching and above all, research. But Mary was able to produce more quality research than almost anyone I know, retain her reputation as a top teacher, and still found and chair the new division. Sometimes, when you believe in something as strongly as Mary does, you just have to do it, whether there is any career payoff or not.

So, it was nice to learn that others recognize her contribution to the field: she's just found out that she is going to get a Service Award from the Social Responsibility Division of the ASAC at this year's conference. Almost restores my faith in academia.

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