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Lifetime Achievement Honor for BC's Waddock

Sandra Waddock (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Sean Hennessey | Chronicle Staff

Published: July 17, 2014

The International Symposium on Cross Sector Social Interactions has presented Carroll School of Management Galligan Professor of Strategy Sandra Waddock with a lifetime achievement award for her pioneering work in cross-sector collaborative research. Waddock, whose research in the field began 30 years ago, is only the second person to receive this honor from the symposium.

“I was surprised, humbled, and amazed to see that I was considered to be a pioneer,” said Waddock, who also is the Carroll School Scholar of Corporate Responsibility. “I just thought I was doing this really cool stuff. I don’t think any of us regard ourselves as pioneers. What we do is we find something that’s really interesting to look at, or is a puzzle, or that’s important, and that very few other people are interested in, and we go after it.”

Waddock was one of the few researchers in the 1980s that undertook collaborative research focusing on public-private sector partnerships, where difficulties are inevitable.

“Collaboration research inherently involves dealing with what are called ‘wicked problems’: intractable, complex, and indeterminate issues for which different stakeholders have different definitions – and, importantly, different proposed solutions,” she said. “Coming to resolution and making progress on such wicked problems, if it is to be done well, demands multi-sector collaboration.  That is why the progress the field has made is so important.”

Where Waddock’s early research involved business engagement with schools that were trying to resolve the education crisis, nowadays her attention centers on large system change – such as in economic, business and world social systems – and sustainability.
Waddock, whose 10th book is due out later this year, says values, norms, and visions are what hold a system together and it is this core that needs to be targeted to make changes.

“How did smoking and drinking become less acceptable? People got up and said, ‘This is not good for us.’ They said it in ways that others began to understand, and so we began to change our values. So if we think about coming together around big issues like sustainability, we need to reframe how we understand it as a wicked problem and what it means to us as individuals: How would we begin to change the thinking on climate change so that it becomes less acceptable for companies to pollute, or for us to over-consume?”

The lifetime achievement award included a $1,000 check, which Waddock donated to the Pine Street Inn.