We believe that business must be an agent of positive change in the world. Gustavson faculty conduct research in several areas closely aligned with CSSI's mission to promote sustainability and corporate social responsibility within the Gustavson School of Business, the university and the broader community.

In fact, 20 percent of Gustavson's faculty specifically teach and research social and/or environmental issues.

Dr. Monika Winn: transforming organizations

Monika Winn, director

“I believe we need a transformative change in the way management scholars do research,” says Monika Winn, professor of Business Strategy and Sustainability. “How nature functions should inform Management and Organization Studies.”

The focus of Winn’s recent work is to help her colleagues shift from accepting that idea to acting on it, by supplying a scaffold that will help them structure their research. The framework she’s proposing views the world as Social-Ecological Systems, which acknowledge the complex interconnectedness of nature and human activity and offers a way for academics and practitioners to take their work to new levels.

Dr. Matt Murphy: human rights and collaboration

Matt Murphy

Dr. Matthew Murphy looks at how businesses and communities – especially Indigenous communities – interact.

“My goal is to help businesses improve their human rights performance, and to help Indigenous communities protect those rights and develop their own economies,” he says.

To meet that goal, Dr. Murphy researches business and the management of cross-sector relationships. He looks at companies that work with partners from other sectors, and those that are trying to settle conflicts with communities or improve social justice. Often, this research leads him to focus on the relationships between Indigenous communities and mining companies.

Right now he’s developing processes and tools with the Toquaht First Nation on Vancouver Island to assess the socio-cultural fit of prospective economic development projects. In Peru, he’s developing frameworks that assist mining firms and Indigenous/campesino communities to work together more productively. And with Value Added in Africa, he’s helping entrepreneurs build their businesses beyond Fair Trade.

Dr. Simon Pek: embedding positive change Simon Pek

Dr. Simon Pek explores how organizations and the individuals within them embed social and environmental sustainability into their cultures, strategies, and daily operations. Specifically, he looks at the microprocesses of sustainability-oriented cultural change, new approaches to organizational democracy, and sustainability-related issues in the domain of international business.

Through his research, Pek hopes to equip people to drive positive change within organizations, including novel ways in which institutions can practice democracy.

He also co-founded and serves as a member of the board of directors of Democracy In Practice, a non-profit dedicated to democratic experimentation, innovation, and capacity-building.

Dr. Viviana Pilato: CSR in developing countries Viviana Pilato

Dr. Viviana Pilato researches on the institutionalization of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in corporations and the variations of CSR across institutional contexts, exploring how corporations respond to institutional complexity. Specifically, she examines how CSR is deployed in developing countries, with a particular focus on Africa. She looks at cases in Angola, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.

Through her research, Pilato hopes to contribute to CSR and international business domain, exploring CSR in developing countries as an emerging field of study. 

Faculty research naturally underpins teaching at Gustavson, but we also support and celebrate research by students at all levels and stages of their education.

Every year, Gustavson PhD students present research ideas, thesis proposals, and progress reports to faculty members for discussion and feedback.

MBA 596 is a four- to six-month consulting project in which students help organizations find solutions to business problems. Many clients are not-for-profits and sustainability-related organizations that value the help of faculty-led business students to make a difference in the community.

Each year, more than 70 per cent of our BCom students travel to an academic international exchange at one of Gustavson’s 83 partner universities around the world. During their trip, many enrol in COM 470 Business Research, which is designed to widen their knowledge of their host country and to augment their research and writing skills by an in-depth exploration of a business issue related to this locale. Students can focus on a specific aspect pertaining to a particular private, public or not-for-profit organization.