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  • Suwen Chen

Patrick Callery, Assistant Professor, Carleton University


“From a broader perspective, I consider impact as directly or indirectly contributing to the movement towards a more sustainable economy and society.”


Patrick Callery is an Assistant Professor of Strategic Management at the Sprott School of Business, Carleton University (Canada), interested in corporate sustainability strategies that add value through providing solutions to environmental problems. Patrick believes that climate change is the most important issue to be working on, so he tries to align most of his work with that. He examines how companies manage climate impacts and explores opportunities for green innovation and new business models that will help change consumptive behavior.


Evolving teaching methods to enhance impact in teaching

Patrick worked for a long time in the private sector prior to coming back to academia. Therefore, he feels well-positioned to help guide students through their first jobs and their careers to make an impact. “Students today have a different value set than they may have had a decade or two ago,” Patrick said, “the younger students are a lot more engaged and a lot more open to understanding that sustainability is a major issue, which is really promising and rewarding.” He perceives the students in class as the future leaders of business and is excited about the impact he can create via teaching.


Patrick also observes a substantial shift in terms of how society views the problem, and he believes this is reflected in changing university curriculums. For instance, a dozen years ago, when Patrick was getting his MBA, the extent of sustainability offerings was a basic class on business ethics, and this was seen as separate from the ‘normal’ curriculum. In contrast, more and more schools now have sustainability integrated throughout the curriculum and embedded into every course. Occasionally, when a student does not agree with Patrick in class, he will try to create an environment for students to share and debate their views while appealing to the importance of critical thinking. In most cases, this approach actually helps the students to deepen their understanding of the significance of sustainability.


Research changing the way practitioners perceive climate change

When Patrick contemplates a research question, he envisions who the audience should be. “I normally want it to go beyond the academic community and address real-world problems.” For example, in his article in the Academy of Management Discoveries, he tried to put himself in the shoes of institutional investors using widely available data to identify firms with substantive climate change policy and strategy. “I’ve hopefully helped change the way that they might think about the data that’s used to make decisions, and how might data providers improve the validity of the data, and then even convinced managers to take their reporting obligations more seriously.” This is the type of impact Patrick hopes to generate through his research.


Advice for early-career scholars

Patrick shares the following advice for junior scholars and Ph.D. students who want to have an impact and make further progress in academia:


  • ­ Match your personal values and research agenda to your job search. First and foremost, for early-career researchers, you want to work for an institution that shares the same values as yourself, such as attitudes towards making an impact. It is not necessarily always going to come through in the job description, but you can get an idea of what schools value when meeting people informally at conferences and events or reviewing the research profiles of other faculty.

  • Get support from your institution. Following his first point, Patrick believes one of the most important things when seeking to do impact work is having the support of your institution. Many schools have very specific expectations of where faculty need to publish in order to get tenure, but many others are starting to see that these are not always the most productive types of systems to reward scholars. Patrick shares his own experience, “I feel fortunate to work for a school that has a broader set of expectations for a compelling tenure package that looks beyond just how many A journal articles have you published, but how impactful is your research in terms of knowledge diffusion, media coverage and engagement with community partners, among other dimensions.”

  • ­ Be patient and strategic in making an impact. Patrick thinks junior scholars are entering the market at a time when there is an increasing number of schools that are interested in impact, specifically with respect to grand challenges like climate change and sustainability. “If you are struggling to turn a certain project that you find really promising into A-journal material, for example what is my theoretical contribution so to speak, consider whether that project may have better traction with a field journal that values other aspects, like the impact for society and practical implications. It also sends a good signal to a very large segment of the job market and adds value to your CV.”


Ten years from now, Patrick would like to be someone who is also well-known outside of academic circles and who comes up in conversations when people think about scholars who have really helped in the move forward towards a more sustainable future. “That would be where I want to be recognized and be seen as having contributed something valuable.”


Inspired by Patrick’s story and want to share yours with the Impact Scholar Community? If you would like to be featured, write to Suwen (Suwen.chen@ed.ac.uk).


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