‘Igniting Impact’ Conference Brought Together Business People and Researchers for Maximum Impact

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The Business+Impact initiative at the Ross School of Business hosted a conference earlier this month on using business research for social impact.

“Igniting Impact: Enhancing Business Practice and Research through Greater Collaboration” was co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute Business and Society program and Responsible Research in Business and Management. Focused on translating the UN Sustainable Development Goals into practical solutions to address global challenges, this conference gathered top thinkers from the University of Michigan and across the country to discuss and brainstorm ways for business and other disciplines to take responsibility for these goals.  

In the opening session, Ach Adhvaryu and Anant Nyshadham, assistant professors of business economics and public policy at Michigan Ross and co-founders of Good Business Lab, and corporate partner the Gap, shared their formula for using research to find a common ground between worker well-being and business interests, with a particular focus on women working in factories abroad.

A dinner keynote on the first night focused on how “Uberization” is reshaping labor markets around the world, creating greater convenience for consumers but less security for workers. Panelists included Mike Bishop, former U.S. congressional representative and co-president of iPSE-U.S.; Lindsey Cameron, professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business; Carrie Leana, professor of management at the University of Pittsburgh; and Azariah Lehman, chief administrative officer at iWorker Innovations. They shared what the latest research says about how to take on this dilemma and what new business opportunities are being created.

On the second day, the conference opened up two “Choose Your Adventure” breakout session periods, during which award-winning researchers were paired with business executives to lead dialogues on pressing problems and evidence-based solutions. Brief presentations were followed by active brainstorming sessions, where participants collaborated on specific solutions to the issues and stated goals.

The Friday lunch speaker, Sridhar Tayur, professor of operations management at Carnegie Mellon University and founder of OrganJet, shared his experience in using research to transform the organ transplant industry. The event closers were Doug Guthrie of Apple; Christopher Marquis, professor of management at the Cornell University Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management; and Xun (Brian) Wu, professor of strategy at Michigan Ross. They discussed the ongoing trade war with China and the potential risks and opportunities of doing business in China. 

Learn more about Business+Impact