The Steinhoff Saga Management review - University of Stellenbosch Business School

July – December 2020

Inclusive research: Why we need to hear ALL the voices

Inclusive research: Why we need to hear ALL the voices

  • DEC 2020
  • Tags Research

By Prof Smaranda Boros, Prof Anita Bosch and Prof Yuliya Shymko

9 minutes to read

SHARE

Crises show up the cracks
The Covid-19 pandemic is not just a health, economic and humanitarian crisis; it is also showing up uncomfortable truths about research.

It is exposing territorial us-versus-them dynamics of hoarding and a crisis of global solidarity. This is reflected in bitter economic negotiations between the haves and the have nots of the world, even when they reside under the same institutional umbrella, such as the European Union. It is also reflected in developing countries negotiating with international monetary funds for financial relief.

The Covid-19 pandemic is not just a health, economic and humanitarian crisis; it is also showing up uncomfortable truths about research.

It reveals both the power of the state and the need for centralised and aligned policies and interventions. It also shows up the limitations of these interventions if collaborative, community efforts have not been taken into account in addressing challenges. In addition, it exposes what happens when research is directed from the Global North (i.e. the West) without listening to the voice of the Global South.

Us versus them
The colonialism of knowledge production can enforce Global North management discourse and practices on the lives of those in the non-West, dictating a Western tradition of managerial thinking. The same applies to research.

… it exposes what happens when research is directed from the Global North (i.e. the West) without listening to the voice of the Global South.

As long as so many of the research studies that inform policies continue to be conducted in mainly Western settings, and remain mostly deductive and based on the theoretical models developed there, there will be no escape from this loop of inequality.

Collaboration can make it possible
What we need, then, is more inductive research undertaken in the Global South – research that transcends the usual ‘vulnerable populations’ angle. This means we need research that learns from local initiatives that tackle issues such as inequality and us-versus-them dynamics, and from collaborative, grassroots community initiatives. We need research that portrays local communities as people with agency instead of ‘targets of our benevolence’ and wisdom. We need research that is open to learning about alternative sources of power and alternative forms of community organising. We need alternative paradigms of operating – collaborative instead of competitive, focused on the good of the whole community instead of the individual, and based on needs instead of merit. In other words, we need to hear more from the Global South.

The colonialism of knowledge production can enforce Global North management discourse and practices on the lives of those in the non-West, dictating a Western tradition of managerial thinking. The same applies to research.

Or, in the words of Responsible Research in Business & Management, an organisation that supports credible and useful research in the business and management disciplines, “responsible science, producing credible knowledge that is ultimately useful for addressing problems important to business and society”.

Where is the Global South’s voice in research on the coronavirus? Where is the engagement with indigenous knowledge of, say, Africa’s people?

In theory, relevant research is already the case. In practice, most of the recent calls for research proposals and all the money that comes with it will be granted mainly to organisations based in the Global North. This is because they know how to write compelling proposals and they have resources to hire researchers who have the “right” credentials to bring the desired weight and legitimacy to the proposal.

Journals now calling for Covid-19 -related papers and promising a speedy publication process, will publish mainly quantitative research results. Numerous surveys and desktop studies have led to “quick-and-dirty” articles.

What we need, then, is more inductive research undertaken in the Global South – research that transcends the usual ‘vulnerable populations’ angle.

Inductive and qualitative research needs to complement deductive and quantitative approaches. Academics and research institutions need to take hands with local communities. The Global North and the Global South need to undertake collaborative research so that we benefit collectively. It is only when all the voices can be heard that we will find better ways of working to build sustainable societies.

It is only when all the voices can be heard that we will find better ways of working to build sustainable societies.

  • Find the original article here: Boros, S., Bosch, B., & Shymko, Y. (2020). North meets South: a call for inclusive global research. Global Focus – the EFMD Business Magazine. https://www.globalfocusmagazine.com/north-meets-south-a-call-for-inclusive-global-research/
  • Prof Anita Bosch holds the Women at Work Research Chair at USB.
  • Yuliya Shymko is professor of Strategy and Management, Audencia Business School, France.
  • Smaranda Boros is professor of Intercultural Management and Organisational Behaviour, Vlerick Business School, Belgium.

Related articles

May 26

6 minutes to read

The gender pay gap: a guide fo...
Mar 02

8 minutes to read

Women on South African boards ...

Join the USB community

Receive updates on the latest news, events, business knowledge and blogs at USB.

SUBSCRIBE NOW