Dr. Susan Aloi, director of the Thomas H. Albinson Jr. School of Business at West Virginia Wesleyan College, has been awarded a research contract with the Kettering Foundation of Dayton, OH. Dr. Aloi will be collaborating with two other business faculty from small colleges: Dr. Joshua Ray, chair of the Management Department at Tusculum College in Greeneville, TN, and Dr. Glenn King, chair of the Division of Business at Concordia College in Selma, AL. They will utilize the technique of deliberative dialogue in various classroom settings to guide college students in studying the role of business in society.
According to the World Economic Forum (Jan. 2014), the role of business over time has remained fairly constant: to provide goods and services that people need and want. Decades ago, business students were taught that the primary, or even sole role of business was to maximize profit for the owner(s). However, society has grown to distrust business and developed higher expectations than simply the provisions of goods and services over time. The public wants these goods to be safe, well-made, and provide good value. It wants business leaders to be ethical and for businesses to contribute to the well-being of their communities. Today’s new employees, the “millennials,” are concerned with the purpose of the organizations in which they spend their working days. Research (D. Pink, 2011) indicates that most employees are at least as much, if not more, motivated by purpose as they are by profit.
This Kettering learning agreement will enable students in a variety of business classes at the three small colleges to learn how to utilize the process of deliberative dialogue in exploring various views on the role of businesses in communities. Deliberative dialogue is a technique to encourage discussion participants to explore a problem from a variety of perspectives and to intentionally draw out the advantages and challenges of each viewpoint. Dr. Aloi has been trained as a moderator for deliberative dialogue through the West Virginia Center for Civic Life in Charleston. The Kettering Foundation supports the work of deliberative dialogue in Centers and other formats around the world. Kettering sponsors activities that study democracy from a citizen-centered perspective. The sense that ordinary citizens desire to be in control of their daily lives is a basic focus of Kettering’s research.
Specifically, Dr. Aloi and her co-researchers will be investigating three questions: 1). What is the role of business schools and their faculties in shaping student awareness of the relationship between businesses and society? 2). How can deliberative dialogue, based on the deliberative dialogue model, be used in a variety of classroom settings to frame the discussion on the role of business in society? and 3). How will students’ participation in such dialogues affect how they interact in the communities in which they live and work as business people after graduation?
Throughout the next several academic semesters, Dr. Aloi and her co-researchers will integrate different models of deliberative dialogue in a variety of business courses at their institutions. Students will learn how to lead discussions that promote civic dialogue in other classrooms and in their communities.
For more information about this research, please contact Dr. Susan Aloi at firstname.lastname@example.org.