The 18th International Studying Leadership Conference 16th-17th December 2019

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Bristol Leadership and Change Centre is delighted to be hosting the 18th International Studying Leadership Conference in 2019 at Bristol Business School, UWE Bristol.

Please see our ISLC 2019 flyer and full PDF Call for Contriubutions

Call for Contributions

Theme: Putting Leadership in its Place

In contemporary tumultuous societal landscapes, some commentators claim that answers for problems are located in heroic individuals, whereas others take a more holistic approach and call for an understanding of context, culture and place in leadership practice. Only through understanding the relationship between leadership and the environment, they argue, will we be able to develop more effective and sustainable forms in the future; forms that are responsive, flexible and sensitive to change. We will define the concept of place in due course, but before note that researchers and scholars interested in studying place and leadership share some common similarities.

Most significantly, they challenge the notion that leadership is the sole responsibility of one individual who acts as if in a context-free vacuum. That is, mainstream approaches to leadership tend to valorise the quest for locating a ‘magic recipe’ of leadership attributes that can be farmed out to any individual to allow them to become effective in any situation. Very little attention is paid to other factors outside of the individual that may impact on success, largely because the ideal-type leader is seen to be so omniscient and omnipresent that place is deemed irrelevant. Despite the continued popularity of this simplistic approach (as evidenced in contemporary airport texts and ‘how-to’ guides), scholars from a diverse range of backgrounds take issue with the a-contextual nature, claiming it to be overly prescriptive (Graeff, 1983), to represent a North American bias (House, 1995) and to fail in capturing the nuanced and fundamentally idiosyncratic character of day-to-day leadership practice (Sutherland et al, 2014). They fail to ask questions such as: Why does leadership style vary from place-to-place? Why do certain leaders work well in some contexts and not in others? Why has the magic recipe of leadership not yet been found, in almost 100 years of formal leadership research?

We propose that focussing efforts primarily on individual leaders is problematic and reductionist. Instead, concentrating on the relationship between leadership and place can offer a deeper and more representative account of how leadership activity occurs. In some cases this may involve investigating how place influences leadership (e.g. how leaders have to conform to particular societal codes) and in others it may note how leadership influences place (e.g. the part that leaders play in shaping organisations and subordinates). Whilst we are reluctant to concretely define what we consider the concept of ‘place’ to encompass, there are some broad strokes we can draw at this stage, and would encourage those interested to submit work centered around the following questions: What is place? What aspects of it are important to consider for leadership practice?

What is place? What aspects of it are important to consider for leadership practice?

  • Geographical place. Scholars interested in ‘Worldly Leadership’ have long spoken about the importance of considering national culture and context on leadership practice, noting that for too long leadership studies has assumed a predominantly Western slant. Rather, geographical place bears influence over possibilities and constraints for doing leadership, and gives rise to a variety of different forms.  
  • Societal values & beliefs. Leading on from the former point, within issues of geographical location come the associated values, beliefs and ethical assumptions. Indeed, if we view these as inherently socially constructed, it seems clear that there can be no overarching way of defining what ‘good’ leadership is constituted by. Rather, we must develop approaches that acknowledge the importance of local constructs. 
  • Organisational culture and space. Moving beyond the macro level, consideration must also be paid to the organisational environments in which leadership happens. In what ways do leaders influence culture? In what ways are they influenced by existing cultures? What influence does the layout of space have on the day-to-day experience of doing leadership?
  • Structure, power & politics. The imagined structure of organisations and enmeshed power relations also constitute a part of place. Attention must therefore be paid to existing social relationships, roles and responsibilities, hierarchical assumptions and reporting relationships. Indeed, all of these aspects influence how effective certain styles of leadership may be. Do more autocratic styles of leadership work better in highly centralised organisations, compared with more fluid approaches in flatter groups? Does the structure of an organisation change with different forms of leadership, or vice versa?
  • Historical developments. Leadership styles, types and leader-follower relationships are also determined by history. Human beings cannot separate themselves from the ‘baggage’ of experience, and from this perspective we might note that deeply enmeshed relationships have positive or adverse effects on future leadership possibilities. Here then, we may focus on issues of time, not just considering what we wish future leadership to look like, but how we may learn from present and past practices.

How might we go about researching place and leadership practice?

With this in mind, attention must also be paid to the methodologies employed for investigating leadership. Indeed, if we are to welcome the notion of place, then we must (re-) consider how leadership is studied. To date the most common method continues to the questionnaire and survey (Bryman, 2005), and whilst interviews are increasingly in popularity we argue that further steps can be taken to understand the complexity of the task, including but not limited to: Ethnography; Collaborative inquiry / action research; Historiography; Narrative inquiry; Sensory methods. Headway is being made with this recently, with Sutherland (2016) arguing for deep participant observation as a way of understanding organisational discourses and leadership work, and Shortt (2014) promoting creative and visual methods to capture the day-to-day experiences of organisational actors. Whilst these approaches vary considerably in philosophy, style and outcome, all allow for a deeper appreciation of the interrelationship between myriad concepts of place and leadership. This stands in stark contrast with a more traditional approach of simply examining one piece of the puzzle: an individual leader and their personality.

What are the benefits of including place on the leadership research agenda?

In addition to reflecting on the place of place in leadership research, and the ways in which it may be studied, we also encourage thoughts on the various opportunities and potentialities that a place-based approach to leadership can bring. For example:

  • That it allows us to move away from the wild goose chase of mainstream approaches, and rather than seeking to find a ‘one best way’ of doing leadership that works in any situation, understand the leadership is an inherently context dependent act that requires a deep knowledge of individual situations. 
  • This may in turn lend to a greater appreciation for ‘alternative’ styles of leadership. Indeed, in casting our gaze beyond the conventional singular heroic individual, we may observe that this dominant narrative may become challenged by currently marginalised alternatives. That is, more distributed or hybrid configurations of leadership may receive more attention and gain traction as actionable and practical alternatives to the ideal-type individual leader. 
  • A place-based approach can also promote a general appreciation of continual reflection and organisational learning. In situating place as central on the research agenda, we acknowledge that flux is inevitable and situations are in constant transformation. Therefore, a significant part of leadership effectiveness is being able to keep up and respond positively to change. Through accepting reflection and being open to learning, leadership may become a more socially sustainable act. 
  • Finally, this place-based approach could be central in fostering connections between communities. Rather than seeing organisations as separate from their environment, Hambleton remarks that this perspective can allow leadership to “play a significant role In advancing social justice, promoting care for the environment and bolstering community empowerment” (2015).

Keynote Speakers

  • Professor Sonia Ospina, Professor of Public Management and Policy at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, USA
  • Professor Elena Antonacopoulou, Professor of Organizational Behaviour at the University of Liverpool Management School, UK
  • Professor Peter Case, Professor of Organisation Studies, Bristol Business School, UWE, UK and Professor of Management and Organisation Studies, James Cook University, Australia

Other highlights

There will be a conference dinner in central Bristol on the night of 16th December to which all delegates are invited.

Following the conference delegates will be invited to submit their work for a special issue of the international peer-reviewed journal Leadership on the conference theme of ‘Putting leadership in its place’. Additional activities and opportunities will be confirmed nearer the time

Submissions

Whilst we encourage submissions linked to the conference theme we will also welcome abstracts on any theme linked to research on leadership and allied fields.

Submissions to the conference should be in the form of a 750-word (excluding references) abstract and should be forwarded to the conference organisers from 1st June to 1st September 2019 at blc@uwe.ac.uk. The conference committee will consider abstracts as and when they are submitted and a decision communicated to authors soon after submission.

All submissions should include on the cover page:

  • Title
  • Name of author(s)
  • Organisation affiliation/position(s)
  • Address
  • E-mail address
  • Topic Area and Stream

The submissions should be:

  • A word or PDF file
  • Written in English
  • Indicating word count clearly on cover page

Conference fees

Early bird rate (inc. conference dinner) by 30th September 2019 – £295 per person

Standard registration (inc. conference dinner) from 1st October 2019 – £345 per person

Student fee (subject to availability) – £245 per person

Please note: conference fees do not include accommodation which should be arranged separately by conference attendees.

Delegates can book accommodation at the Holiday Inn Filton for the below reduced rates by quoting the reference “UWF”:

  • Sunday 15 December – £79.00
  • Monday 16 December – £99.00

To book this accommodation please contact Holiday Inn Filton on 0117 910 4270 between 8:30am – 5:30pm (Monday – Friday) or email reservations@hibristolfilton.co.uk

Conference Organisers

The conference is co-sponsored by the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre (BLCC).

www.uwe.ac.uk/research/blcc
@UWEleadership

Please refer all initial queries regarding the conference to Dr Gareth Edwards or one of the other conference committee members, see below:

For general queries about the conference please email blc@uwe.ac.uk.

For specific advice on your submission please contact Dr Gareth Edwards at Gareth3.edwards@uwe.ac.uk.

Conference venue

Bristol Business School

UWE Bristol
Frenchay Campus
Coldharbour Lane
Bristol
BS16 1QY
United Kingdom

Please see the UWE website for information on how to get here and a map of Frenchay campus.

References

Bryman, A. (2004) Qualitative research on leadership: a critical but appreciative review, The Leadership Quarterly, 15, 729-769.

Carroll, B., Firth, J. and Wilson, S. (eds) (2018) After Leadership. Abingdon: Routledge.

Denis, J.L., Langley, A. and Sergi, V. (2012) Leadership in the plural, The Academy of Management Annals, 6(1), 211-283.

Fairhurst, G. T. (2009) Considering context in discursive leadership research, Human Relations, 62(11), 1607-1633.

Graeff, C. L. (1983) The Situational Leadership Theory: A critical view, Academy of Management Review, 8, 285-291.

Hambleton, R. (2014) Leading the Inclusive City:  Place-based innovation for a bounded planet. Bristol: The Policy Press.

Hartley, J. (2011) ‘Political leadership’, in A. Bryman, D. Collinson, K. Grint, B. Jackson, & M. Uhl-Bien (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Leadership. London: Sage, pp. 203-214.

Ospina, S. and Foldy, E. (2009) A critical review of race and ethnicity in the leadership literature: Surfacing context, power and the collective dimensions of leadership, The Leadership Quarterly, 20, 876–896.

Ropo, A. and Salovaara, P. (2018) Spacing leadership as an embodied and performative process, Leadership, Online First: April 16, 2018.

Rost, J. (1991) Leadership for the Twenty-First Century. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Schedlitzki, D., Case, P. and Knights, D. (2017) Ways of leading in non-Anglophone contexts: Representing, expressing and enacting authority beyond the English-speaking world, Leadership, 13(2), 127–132.

Schein, E. H. (1992) Organizational Culture and Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Shortt, H. and Warren, S. (2019) Grounded visual pattern analysis photographs in organizational field studies. Organizational Research Methods, 22 (2), 539-563.

Sutherland, N. (2018) Investigating leadership ethnographically: Opportunities and potentialities. Leadership, 14 (3), 263-290.

Turnbull, S. Case, P., Edwards, G., Schedlitzki, D. and Simpson, P. (eds) (2011) Worldly Leadership: Alternative wisdoms for a complex world, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Western, S. and Garcia, E.J. (eds.) (2018) Global Leadership Perspectives: Insights and Analysis, London: Sage Publications.

 

Privatised profit inside prisons: real work for prisoners or invisible exploitation?

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Dr Jenna Pandeli has recently published a blog post for the American Sociological Association. The blog piece is a condensed article of Dr Pandeli’s paper published in Work Employment and Society this summer.

This summer we have seen what could be considered one of the largest prison strikes in US history, where prisoners are undertaking nineteen days of peaceful protest.

Some of the demands that underpin these protests are the need for improved prison conditions and greater funding in rehabilitation. But at the heart of this protest is a demonstration against imposed prison labour and the disturbingly low wages that accompany such work. This approach to prison work, an approach where profit is becoming more prevalent and private organisations are becoming more and more involved in the prison system, is not isolated to the US.

The research discussed here is based on a study conducted in the UK and is particularly pertinent in helping us to understand the reasoning behind the strikes and the feelings and experiences of those prisoners protesting.
Employment has been singled out as an important factor in reducing reoffending.

Read the full blog post online here.

 

Ethical moments in International Development research with Professor Peter Case

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Professor Peter Case gave a seminar paper last week entitled, ‘Ethical moments in International Development research: Aporia, undecidability and the unintended consequences of ethnocentric ethics’, as part of the Ethics Seminar Series run by the University of Technology Sydney’s Business School. This was the last Business Ethics Research seminar for the year at UTS.

Professor Peter Case works between James Cook University and UWE Bristol.

Reflections on the Aspire People Development Programme with Avon and Somerset Police

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By Holly Poole, Policy and Support Coordinator for Avon and Somerset Police.

When I was asked to write this blog, I was a little hesitant to broadcast myself to the whole of the Force but I hope my blog may inspire others to take a step out of their comfort zone and put yourself forward to help make a positive difference.

I joined the force nearly two years ago fresh out of University after recommendations of opportunities within the organisation and have undertaken Clerical and Personal Assistant roles within Criminal Justice. I am currently undertaking a role within the Citizens in Policing department in Business Improvement working with our Police Support Volunteers, Special Constables and Police Cadets. You may also recognise my name from running the Citizens Academy and I am also a volunteer Specials Assessor. I enjoy engaging with volunteers and communities, being a representative for the force and being part of the wider organisation and learning more about how each element of our organisation works together to reach our mission to be outstanding.

During my short time within the force, I have constantly looked for ways to improve the way I work and to support others. I have always taken on tasks and work above my role responsibilities and offer my assistance wherever I can. I have a need to be constantly challenged and I am always looking for ways to develop and this is why I put myself forward for the Aspire People Development Programme (PDP). The programmes ambition is to develop potential leaders and is tailored to those who exceed expectations, have the desire to develop and seek posts at a higher level. At the end of the programme, an academic accreditation in leadership and management will be awarded.

The programme is in partnership with UWE and its format runs over nine months and features monthly lectures on a range of areas including effective leadership, understanding change and building effective workplace relationships. To gain the academic accreditation at the conclusion of the programme, two academic assignments and a project are required to be completed.

During my first day on the programme, I had a severe case of imposter syndrome. Not only was I the youngest on the programme, but I was also the lowest ranked staff member and had little/no management experience unlike my peers. During the day team activities were carried out, learning styles were analysed, the project options were discussed and work packages that had been identified in need areas of business over the force were presented. The realisation that not only would my project be implemented to make improvements within the force but that at the programmes conclusion I would present my recommendations to COG overwhelmed me. Surely it was a mistake I had been shortlisted for this PDP programme? I felt as though I didn’t deserve my place and there was definitely someone out there with more skill than I to carry out a project at such a strategic level!

Four months on since that first session, supported by my UWE lecturer, line manager, mentor, HR and my project business lead I no longer feel like an imposter. The programme has helped me to identify the leadership qualities I already possess and enhance them alongside learning new skills and tools I will be able to use in both my current and future roles. Following a personal development plan I have been able to identify areas of improvement within myself including problem solving and presentation skills. I am due to carry out a number of presentations over the course of the next few months to various stakeholders which I have volunteered for…I never thought I would be confident enough to volunteer to present, let alone on a project of this scale!

I am passionate about my chosen project and I am progressing well, my aspiration is that my project will improve the way we work in a large area of business and support us on our journey to be outstanding. Taking part in the PDP Programme has been challenging at times and having my role responsibilities alongside managing assignments and projects has truly tested my time management skills.

Both the PDP programme and the project have enabled me to network with a variety of departments, roles and partnership agencies which I would have not had the opportunity to in my current role. No matter what role or rank, the programmes main aim is to develop you personally and provide you with the skills to take into higher or more demanding roles.

The experience and skills the Aspire Personal Development Programme has provided me with has been invaluable, I feel what I have learnt has developed me as a person and will help me to make a positive difference. I look forward to completing the remainder of the programme, whatever challenges may lie ahead.

“Rethinking Malaria” at Chatham House.

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Professor Peter Case (UWE Bristol) was invited by Dr David Heymann, Director of the Centre on Global Health Security, to act as a discussant for a ‘Rethinking Malaria’ conference held at Chatham House on Wednesday 10 October. The conference focussed on tackling malaria in Africa and presenters included a delegation of Anglican bishops from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia. The church plays a vital role in the region because of its ability to inform and influence congregations and communities with respect to public health issues. In his reflections on the presentations, Peter spoke about his ‘Organization Development for Malaria Elimination’ (ODME) work in Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia, emphasising the importance of improving front-line services and paying fine-grained attention to operational challenges; a message that chimed with that of the bishops. Also in attendance was Chris Flowers of the JC Flowers Foundation – a New York-based philanthropic organization that has offered to support Peter’s research team in Zimbabwe this coming malaria season.

10th Developing Leadership Capacity Conference hosted by UWE Bristol

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Last week saw the Business School host the 10th Developing Leadership Capacity Conference (DLCC)with around 70 participants attending to present ideas and share knowledge. The DLCC was originally developed with the aim of having a combination of those interested in researching the area of leadership learning and development and those interested in new ideas for practice, and this year, on the conference’s 10th anniversary, we believe we had a healthy mix of both. We also introduced a case study stream and a workshop stream this year to really engage practice with academic ideas discussed in a third stream.

We also had an  international feel to the conference this year with participants coming from as far afield as Canada, Ghana, Saudi Arabia and Australia. This year we were particularly interested in innovative and creative approaches to learning and developing leadership and we had a stimulating conversation across all groups over the two days on this theme. We also had keynotes from Professor Carole Elliot (Roehampton University) on Women’s Leadership Development, Dr Kevin Flinn (Hertfordshire University) presenting on a complexity approach to leadership learning and Professor Paul Hibbert (St Andrews University) who presented on an aesthetic approach to understanding leadership experiences. The keynotes are pictured below with the conference hosts and founders Dr Doris Schedlitzki and Dr Gareth Edwards and the Director of the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre, Professor Richard Bolden.

 

 

“Becoming enterprising”: a collaborative workshop

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By Dr Pam Seanor.

 

On Monday 11 June, BLCC hosted the “Becoming enterprising” collaborative workshop.

The workshop was attended by differing practitioners: those taking a critical approach in our teaching and research, those new to roles at UWE Bristol embedding enterprise in to the curriculum, practitioners who facilitate sessions on our modules or are part of the advisory board, artists and students. We also had our youngest attendee being under 1 years old.

It was a day of talking, listening, walking and creative approaches and proved a fun and engaging. It was structured to the following 3 scenarios:

Scenario 1: What do we mean by critical approaches to situated learning?

Facilitator: Karen Verduijn

Karen shared her views of what critical entrepreneurship means to her, challenging some assumptions, along with her experiences of teaching students and developing a community across facilities at VU University Amsterdam.

Scenario 2: Making connections between practitioner and academic views

Facilitator: Jayne Purcell

Jayne is a design thinker and worked with imagines and artefact participants brought of ‘what “becoming enterprising” means to you’  –  what you do, or your dreams and ambitions. We shared differing views, as well of experiences, of resistance and challenges in practices, of being inclusive, sustainability, and/or bringing in creative practices.

Scenario 3: Creative practices

Facilitator: Arthur Turner

After lunch, Arthur Turner facilitated a walk and we talked about the ideas and questions that came up on the day.

Refreshments Drawing it all together

We ended with the Visual Sketchnotes of key points of shared understanding of what others do, questions and imaginings arising from the discussion points and considering next steps.

We hope this to be the beginnings of a conversation where we see entrepreneurship-leadership-sustainability, particularly becoming inclusive, as more connected.

The workshop scenarios had a common theme of movement:

Moving the conversation from the “heroic” (white) male towards creative processes.

Of note, a comment was made in the workshop that there is a place for the “heroic” in practices. We are thoughtful in advocating the alternative approach that we do not seek to replace the dominant view, instead we seek to question the taken-for-granted assumptions. Thus, we take a pluralistic stance and do not seek one definition or one approach.

We hold a common understanding that entrepreneurship is about social change.

Doris and I intend to continue taking an affirmative critical approach in our teaching and research and helping our students to recognise the dominant views and then to question these assumptions so that they can find their voice and identify the alternative practices that they seek to change.

I end by offering the questions we worked through in the scenarios in the workshop:

  • What future are you going to want to create (what society are you going to wanting to live in?)?
  • What – if anything – do you feel needs to be changed from the status quo?
  • (How) can entrepreneurship provide a way forward?

The following link is to the sketch notes of the 3 scenarios

New assets here

On behalf fo Doris and my colleagues at BLCC, we look forward to collaborating.

 

 

Sustainability in the curriculum for responsible management education

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This year, the UWE Student Union introduced for the first time ever the ‘Sustainability Teaching Award’ as part of their student experience award scheme. This is also a demonstration of their quest for integrating sustainability in the University curriculum at large. A member of BLCC, Dr Svetlana Cicmil,  was among the 6 academics shortlisted for this award following the nominations by UWE students. An educational activist and scholar passionate about responsible business and management education, Svetlana experiments with pedagogies which address, in a critical and participatory way, the global sustainability agenda and international development. The ultimate aim is to offer the students a truly multidisciplinary dialogical learning experience in the class which is, in turn, a mix of UWE masters students from different fields (MBA, Environmental Management, global political economy,  sustainable development) . A student’s comment illustrates this :

“…. As an MBA student, … I had little to no exposure to sustainable development, … theory, perspectives, models or initiatives that were in this field. Not only has Svetlana shone a light and provided knowledge of sustainable development …, she has provided me the space to develop my own growing perspective, interpretation and definitions.”

Reflecting the spirit and the ethos of BLCC, Svetlana is convinced that we “cannot develop global leaders without addressing in the curriculum some of the most pertinent issues of our time, such as: ecological crisis, global ethics, and corporate responsibility related to equitable sustainable development. Being a complex and multifaceted concept, a mixture of technological, moral, political and sociological concerns, sustainability is relevant and can be linked, to every aspect of the business and management curriculum”.

More information about this award and the related UWE SU initiatives.

 

Talking Leadership on Ujima Radi.

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In March 2018 the topic of the month at Ujima Radio was Leadership. Alongside a range of local and national speakers Professor Richard Bolden, Director of Bristol Leadership and Change Centre, discussed the work that he and colleagues are doing in Bristol and beyond. In a wide-ranging conversation Gail Bowen-Huggett, presenter of The Babbers Show, invited his views on topics including African leadership, distributed leadership, leadership of place and inclusive leadership.

Amongst the initiatives discussed were UWE’s role in developing and delivering the Bristol Leadership Challenge and their involvement as academic partner in the Bristol Golden Key and Building Leadership for Inclusion initiatives.

The interview was first broadcast on 19th March 2018 and can be listened to in full by clicking here.

‘Of course, trust is not the whole story; narratives of dancing with a critical friend in social enterprise-public sector collaboration’

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Hot off the press! Our BLCC member Dr Pam Seanor has published the following chapter:

‘Of course, trust is not the whole story; narratives of dancing with a critical friend in social enterprise-public sector collaboration’  in Pascal Day and Chris Steyaert (Eds) Social entrepreneurship: An affirmative Critique, Cheltenham UK and Northampton, MA, USA, Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 159-181

Pam tells us, “The chapter began from hearing a story told at an academic conference. The story stayed with me and led me to query the adequacy of academic narratives which frame trust in univocally positive terms by conceiving it as an essential lubricant in collaborative relations between social enterprises and government. Based on interviews with social entrepreneurial practitioners and government officials in England, it shares the “everyday” stories where trust, rather the forming a linear and stable “thing”, is a fluid, constantly changing and contested social practice. Shedding light on the co-implication of trust and control, and the ubiquity of distrust, “calculative trust” and practitioner resistance, the chapter works as an injunction to rethink the centrality of trust in everyday life of social enterprises.”

Pam welcomes conversations with practitioners of their everyday aspects of social enterprise and social entrepreneurship: Pam.Seanor@uwe.ac.uk