“Igniting Impact” Conference Brought together Business People and Researchers for Maximum Impact


ANN ARBOR – March 13, 2020 – Last week on March 5-6, Business+Impact at Michigan Ross sponsored a conference on business research for social impact at the Ross School of Business. “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 U-M 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, co-founders of Good Business Lab, and corporate partner the Gap, shared their formula for using research to find a common ground between worker wellbeing and business interests, with a particular focus on factories abroad.

A dinner keynote (Watch video) on the first night focused on how “Uberization” is re-shaping labor markets around the world, creating greater convenience for consumers but greater precarity for workers. Panelists included Mike Bishop, former US Congressional Representative and co-president, IPSE.US (The Association of Independent Workers); Lindsey Cameron, Professor of Management, Wharton School; Carrie Leana, Professor of Management, University of Pittsburgh; Azariah Lehman, Chief Administrative Officer, iWorker Innovations. They shared what the latest research tell us 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, where award-winning researchers were paired with business executives to lead dialogues on pressing problems and evidence-based solutions. Brief presentations were followed by very active brainstorming sessions, where participants collaborated on specific solutions to the issues and goals stated.

That Friday, the lunch speaker, Sridhar Tayur (Carnegie Mellon University; founder, OrganJet) shared his experience in using research to transform the organ transplant industry (Watch video).  And as a closers, Doug Guthrie, Apple (Watch video); Christopher Marquis, SC Johnson Professor of Management, Cornell University; Xun (Brian) Wu, Professor of Strategy, Michigan Ross (Watch video) discussed the ongoing trade war with China and the potential risks and opportunities of doing business in China. 

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