Regional Winner in the Business category for the Global Undergraduate Awards 2019 - Eve McClelland
It is an incredible privilege to have been highly commended and named the Regional Winner in the Business category for the Global Undergraduate Awards 2019. Throughout studying International Business with a Modern Language in Queen’s University, as a cohort, we were exposed to a variety of modules and perspectives. It was in final year, however, when my International Business understanding became most interesting. At times, it was comfortable to simply accept international strategies at face value and best practice, often neglecting to challenge these behaviours. Both Dr Kieran Conroy and Dr Lucy McCarthy played a significant role in my studies, encouraging a culture of critique and deeper analysis.
Having a strong focus on Social Entrepreneurship throughout my time at QUB, designing a product for national disaster relief and homelessness, I was intrigued when Dr McCarthy began to challenge traditional business attitudes. Addressing global issues such as climate change, poverty and injustice, they began to spark questioning, creativity and problem-solving. What is the role of business in society? How do we face institutional voids? Could we eventually end world poverty? Very quickly I looked at the responsibility and power that business has, along with two key approaches that businesses are embracing to support social issues: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Social Entrepreneurship.
CSR is a traditional approach that is open to interpretation, is often a bolt-on to a business strategy and at times is used more for a marketing tool than implementing positive social change. Social entrepreneurship involves the creation of organisations, both Non-Profit Organisations and For-Profit Social Ventures to drive sustainable growth with tackling societal issues remaining the main focus. From the literature review, it became clear that collaboration across institutions – including the state and business is essential as it will create synergy, support multi-stakeholder perspectives and drive a more holistic attack on this issue of global poverty. Additionally, a balance of CSR, Social Entrepreneurship and Social Intrapreneurship in both established and start up organisations can maximise the effectiveness of business in taking ground on effective change in the future.
I was truly grateful to receive sponsorship from Arthur Cox and The Management School at Queen’s University Belfast to attend the Undergraduate Awards Summit in Dublin. The summit was incredibly inspirational, to hear from a wide variety of other highly commended and global winners across a wide range of research topics. The networking opportunities with these great thinkers and an open culture of curiosity led to very interesting conversations. Additionally, key note speakers focused on future-proofing us and how we can ride the wave of technological change that is coming. Other speakers addressed Climate Change and how renewable energy will progress in the future.
Through this entire process, it is very clear that we cannot become a passive generation, but that in fact the greatest tool we hold is the ability to think and to question. I am so grateful to the academic influence I had in the Management School and for thinkers such as Dr McCarthy for creating such modules. I can only hope that QMS will continue to introduce these modules and other students from the school will too go on to attend the Undergraduate Awards for their success.