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Expanding Leadership Research through Fellowship

Posted July 31, 2013 in KLI Research, News
Harmony Palmer

By Claudia Raigoza ’14

Each year, the Kravis Leadership Institute offers student research fellowships in leadership to support, encourage, and expand the ongoing leadership research of CMC students. These competitive fellowship awards provide students with financial fellowships that allow them to focus their time on leadership research. It also encourages faculty members to support and encourage knowledge and understanding of leadership and organizational effectiveness through student research. KLI offers three fellowships. Both the Leadership Thesis Fellowship and Leadership Research Fellowship encourage and support research on topics related to all areas of leadership; the Leadership Thesis Fellowship is open to CMC seniors for work on their senior thesis. The Social Sector Fellowship encourages and supports student research on projects related to social entrepreneurship and the social sector. Both the Social Sector Fellowship and Leadership Research Fellowship are open to all CMC students. Three Fellowships were awarded for the 2012-2013 academic year, and as a result, two senior theses came to fruition.

As the Leadership Thesis Fellow, Harmony Palmer ’13 used her fellowship to help purchase the database necessary to conduct her research and wrote Corporate Responsibility and Financial Performance: Does it pay to be good? Inspired by the notion that corporations are shifting their perceptions of corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies, her study explored and tested the relationship between corporate social performance (CSP) and corporate financial performance (CFP). Unlike prior research on the topic, Palmer’s study tested the impact that CSP has on sales and gross margin in hopes of providing insight on sales strategies that can be implemented to maximize the impact of the relationship. Palmer found: 1) that CSP and CFP have a significantly positive relationship in both directions, supporting the view that CSR programs have positive impacts on the bottom-line; 2) that increased CSP leads to increases in gross margin, indicating that some customers are willing to pay a premium for the products and/or services of a company with CSR initiatives; and lastly, 3) that increases in CSP leads to a decrease in sales, which implies a decrease in customer base because less people are willing to buy the products at premium. Harmony was awarded Best Thesis in the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance.

Catherine Raney ’13 was awarded the Leadership Research Fellowship and used funds from her award to travel to Amsterdam and to conduct additional research. This research, in conjunction with oral history, allowed her to write her thesis, From Housewife to Household Weapons: Women from the Bolivian Mines Organize Against Economic Exploitation and Political Oppression, 1961 to 1987. During her time living in Bolivia, she was able to talk to many of the women from the Bolivian mines to track the start, growth, and development of the political movement led by these women from 1961-1987. This movement helped create a new political culture that recognized the importance of women’s participation in politics and human rights. After establishing their political organization, the Housewives’ Committee, women activists organized and acted collectively to challenge political oppression and mitigate the effects of extreme poverty. Women’s political development resulted in a number of personal transformations among those who participated: it awakened a political consciousness and also enabled women to recognize the importance of their paid and unpaid work in the mining economy. These changes eventually altered women’s understanding of how women’s oppression fit into the broader struggle of working class activism by convincing them of the deep connection between women’s liberation and the liberation of their community. These transformations led to the acceptance of women as political activists and leaders, which continues into the present. Catherine was awarded Best Thesis in Human Rights.

The Social Sector Research Fellowship was awarded to Sarah Swartz ’15 for Puerto Penasco Aid. Her paper focuses on the recent history of Mexico’s transformations and the establishment of its federal healthcare system. While it continues to be inadequate, the women of Puerto Peñasco are a prime example of the inequality of access to healthcare when these local women only have access to one clinic one day a year. She further discussed how the healthcare changes have not sufficiently helped women diagnosed with breast cancer, and how a non-profit/non-government organization is desperately needed to fix these disparities in order to save lives.

KLI will offer three research fellowships for CMC students in the 2013-2014 Academic Year. The deadline to apply is Monday, October 7, 2013. For more information about the Research Fellowships in Leaderships and to apply, please click here.