Bounce Beyond. Nexus Among Government, Industry, and Academe: Anniversary Address to 10th National Business Management Conference, Philippines.

Hilary Bradbury, Ph.D., of Action Research Plus Foundation

In her NBMC 10th Anniversary Keynote on the theme of “Nexus Among Government, Industry, and Academe,” Hilary Bradbury, Ph.D, of AR+ Action Research Plus Foundation, emphasizes Bouncing Beyond: Sustainable Mindset, Sustainable Practice for Higher Education.   


If we take seriously what the 17 Sustainability Development Goals demand, and the United Nations insistence that we work to meet them by 2030, then the inertia – lip service to real change and continual sleepwalking – seems bewildering. Yet inertia is commonplace the world over.  For example financial markets appear to be governed by the idea that we’ll “bounce back” from the pandemic era’s inflation. Political leaders are not letting people know that climate change demands that citizens be, at least, prepared for more devastating storms and upset to food supply. How does action research help the kinds of transformations needed?

In action research, scholarship and practice become closer. Therefore the theme of ‘Nexus Among Government, Industry, and Academe,’ is close to the heart of all action researchers.  Said simply town and gown, that is, the concerns of academics on the one hand and political actors on the other do not, cannot, remain so separate.  Inspired by the the need to Bounce Beyond, rather than merely bounce back, Hilary spoke of ‘Bouncing Beyond as Sustainable Mindsets become Sustainable Practice within Higher Education” Listen in.

Listen into the podcast and or video presentation with the following points.

  • Knowledge creation itself is transforming…from modernism’s empirical materialism, where academics remained at a distance, through postmodern celebration of multiple perspectives to today’s need to support transformational co-leadership in collaboration with others.
  • The brain is “plastic,” we can continually regenerate (reboot!) ourselves.  The good news of psychology is that we can update our own operating systems.  This is good news because we inherited a brain formed in the paleolithic era.  Cave dwellers were good at many things, but cared for their own small band. The possibly wired in bias that everyone “different” can be mistreated is no longer fit for modern society.
  • We have insight today about our cognitive biases and limitations. It’s crucial that our cave dwelling default find self-correction with others
  • Having new insights (or celebrating multiple insights!) is not enough.  We must now also move to practice.
  • Knowledge creation is not primarily of the head, but finds expression in moving through the heart (our emotions), to our hands so we act together.
  • Conventional scholarship is only about the past.  Scholarly practice needs to be about the future too, so we take what’s useful from the past to co-create the future together.
  • We have to be brave in possibly making mistakes, it is very hard to learn otherwise. This way of learning by doing naturally makes us feel quite vulnerable.
  • Knowledge creation for today’s diverse, complex world  – let’s call it co-production  – is no longer about individual expertise, it’s about moving toward action with others, so that together we help transformations happen.

Hilary gives two examples of helping transformations happen as a way of learning together: 

  1. MBA student Rommel Ominga, a manager at a Call Center in Philippines, did a student project to improve staff ergonomics. His work was years ahead of government policy. This example has principles of Action Research for Transformations. His work did not just describe bad ergonomics or simply complain about the situation, but instead helped improvement happen by creating a win win outcome, with management and staff. People learned about ergonomics and created a better workspace. This is the kind of project that many professional students can do in their own context.
  2. Transformation at the port of Los Angeles which Hilary led with colleagues when a professor at USC, Los Angeles. Partnering with Port executives, the USC colleagues worked with key representatives from along the entire cargo transshipment system.  Their collaborative innovations to reduce carbon intensity spread through the global port conference system. A bug win-win!

Calling all educators and change leaders

  • All scholars are called today to step into aligning their work as management educators with the needs of the United National SDG’s. 
  • Attend to three spaces: The relational, the conceptual and the experimental.  Typically scholarship is only about the conceptual. Action Research for Transformations is asking more of us. This requires educators to grow alongside students and practitioners and care for relationships and outcomes alongside conceptual insights.
  • ARTists are called to develop ourselves, we are co-learners together.
  • This work seems hard because we are naturally defensive and a bit superior as educators! Yet we are also naturally a learning species. What a liberation when we see we can grow ourselves toward learning better.  
  • When learning with others we get to come alive. Rather than solid/stolid experts, we become more agile, more liquid in co-inquiry. We move from insight alone deeper into practice together;
  • Hilary suggests we bring the ART of developmental friendship to our work…self correction doesn’t have to be too painful. It is a joy to learn together. Daily we can practice with a simple inquiry – what did i learn? We become grateful for others help.

The concluding Question and Answer with scholars

  1. Dr. Patch Aure, 2023 President of the Business Management Association, highlights and reiterates the importance of “collaborative design of a space for learning together.” He underscores that faculty are called to play a new role in meeting our sustainability goals as educators and citizens.
  2. Dr. Baladhay, scholar, previously unpersuaded by an action research approach in universities, expresses a new willingness and excitement to embrace ART. After all the the time horizon UN gives calls us to act now. Indeed!