A New Book by Edge Hill Business School staff evaluates international practice in Sociability, Social Capital and Community Development

Sociability, Social Capital and Community Development

Sociability, Social Capital and Community Development

Paresh Wankhade, Professor of Leadership and Management at Edge Hill University Business School has co-authored a new book with Professor Ian G. Cook (John Moores University) and Dr J.P. Halsall (Huddersfield University) entitled “Sociability, Social Capital and Community Development”. Sociability is a concept that has considerable currency and community groups are increasingly willing and able to fill the gap between private sector provisions on the one hand, and public sector provision on the other.

There is a palpable growth in ‘social capital’ that is being developed by social entrepreneurs who offer a ‘Third Way’ to capitalism on the one hand or the State on the other. There is also a growing evidence that ‘community’, however defined, can plug this gap in provision. In this book, the authors draw upon their diverse and rich experience of different societies in order to explore the extent to which these themes are appropriate for the present and the future.

The authors provide a critical understanding of the chosen themes in eight case study examples (The Netherlands, UK, USA, China, India, South Africa, Bangladesh, and Japan).The book explores four major sub-themes of contemporary relevance; overall aging of societies; governance and institutions; emergency service management & public health provisions; and community activism and involvement. While highlighting the strengths and weaknesses in the community intervention agenda, the authors conclude on a positive note and this sense of optimism is linked to growing evidence that community activism is on the rise and can contribute towards plugging the gap between public need and provision of services. Future research directions, including additional cross-country and cross-sectoral comparisons and collaborative research agenda, are also suggested.

Click here for more details on this book at the Publisher’s website.

Managing the Urgent and Unexpected

Managing the Urgent and UnexpectedEdge Hill University Visiting Professor Keith White-Hunt has co-written with Professor Stephen Wearne (University of Manchester) have recently released a new book entitled ‘Managing the Urgent and Unexpected: Twelve Project Cases and a Commentary’.

The book addresses unanticipated threats or opportunities in business and society in which work is required unexpectedly and demands an instant start, in contrast to the often lengthy processes of investigation, evaluation, development, selection and planning normal in businesses and public services before the start of a project. Drawing on twelve cases (ranging from the launch of the Freeview television system in the United Kingdom to the sifting and removal of the New York World Trade Center pile of debris following the 9/11 terrorist attack) as well as a comprehensive review of the existing literature, the book summarises how the responses to each of these events were managed and what was different to normal projects. It also demonstrates that opportunities may sometimes be created in the face of adversity and suggests how normal organizations can prepare to manage abnormal demands.

More details can be found here at the Publisher’s website.

To tweet or not to tweet? New Research

Work by Business School academic Dr. Charles Knight and Dr. Lynda Kaye from the School of Psychology has highlighted the increasing importance of twitter in the work of academics and their relationships with peers and with their students. The research highlights the wealth of opportunity in social networking sites; for shared academic knowledge, distribution of information, dialogue amongst peers and academic networking. However, with 40% of 300 million tweeters using Twitter passively as a newsfeed, are these opportunities going to waste? In other words, should Twitter really be used as a learning tool?

A full precise can be found here and the work published in Innovations in Education and Teaching can be read here.



Point of View – John Diamond on recent turmoil at the Co-op

In this new ongoing series, Edge Hill Business School staff offer their views on current organisational, economic and policy issues. 

All Change at the Co-op (But not yet !) : What have we learnt ?

First of all I need to declare an interest – I am a member of the Co-Op Bank (since the late 1970s) and a member of the Co-Operative Society too. The comings and goings at the Group raise a whole series of issues and they provide an insight into some much broader questions of corporate governance. The most recent internal dispute over pay for senior managers is being presented by some as an internal clash within the Board over the future direction of the whole Co-Op Group.

I see it as much more basic clash. It is less (I think) about values and much more about the governance arrangements within the Group and where accountability for decision making sits. I can see that it may appear to be about values and ethics (and it is all of these as well) but the most significant clash appears to be about who makes decisions and how and in what ways are they held accountable. We can expect further changes to come with more resignations I expect as the restructuring continues. At the same time there are broader questions too of how such a complex set of different and separate organisations and businesses act as a ‘corporate’ whole. This raises the competency question – who appointed who and why – as well as the accountability question – who is accountable and where.

It may be that the clashes within the Group are an indication of a much deeper and more fundamental problem of the viability of the Co-Op as a group in its own right. We might see a bigger restructuring take place as the Group looks to develop a survival plan. So what are the lessons – I think there are three – firstly, what are the governance arrangements (who decides and where does accountability sit); secondly, complexity of organisational structures do matter – they do affect the governance arrangements so scaling back on complexity might be necessary to ensure enhanced scrutiny and governance; finally , being clear about who your reference group is becomes really important in a crisis – despite the attractions of having a ‘membership’ base the Co-Op Group finds that the key reference point is the City.


Point of view – Charles Knight on the WhatsApp sale

In this new ongoing series, Edge Hill Business School staff offer their views on current organisational, economic and policy issues. In this short video, Dr. Charles Knight offers some short commentary on why Facebook is willing to spend $19 Billion to buy social media messaging service WhatsApp. His research interests include social media and the digital economy and he is currently undertaking research looking at the challenges organisations face as they try to shift from physical to digital products and other work looking at diversity amongst start-up companies. 

Click below to see Charles’ view on WhatsApp sale.


Research seminar: Entrepreneurship may well be precarious, but is there a precarity of enterprise?

Dr. Alan Southern will be giving a talk at the Business School on the 5th March 2014 entitled:

Entrepreneurship may well be precarious, but is there a precarity of enterprise?

The term ‘precarity’ is a relatively new term, a neologism that has drawn attention from academics in Western Europe and North America in recent years. Much of this work has been in relation to precarious conditions experienced in the labour markets of mainly ‘developed’ nations and little attention has been paid to its usefulness as a concept applied to the social phenomenon of enterprise and entrepreneurship. Perhaps this is because in a general sense, the field of entrepreneurship has an associated positive discourse. However it is also a discourse that has been dominated by neoliberal ideas about the heroic entrepreneur who exploits opportunities and supports economic growth, a modern day alchemist turning metal into gold through the mechanism of the market.

Too often this discourse is left unchallenged and in this seminar I adopt a critical perspective on the field of entrepreneurship and look at its precarious nature in two ways. The first is to challenge the positive perspective of entrepreneurship by demonstrating evidence of precariousness. The second is to consider how ideas on precarity and the precariat relate to entrepreneurship and people who run small enterprises in an intensely globalized political economy, with high public and private debt and austerity crises. Such dynamics mean the as yet unanswered question to explore here is whether precarity should be considered as an ontological condition in entrepreneurship or if there is indeed, a concept that provides meaningful explanation of the way enterprise and entrepreneurship is currently being shaped.

About the speaker:

Dr. Alan Southern’s research interests are focused on enterprise, self-employment and community-based assets in low income communities. Before joining the Management School in Liverpool he worked at the University of Durham where he was the co-founder of the Regeneration Management Research Network. At Liverpool he has played a leading and strategic role in the University’s international development of on-line learning.  In recent years he led the Small Business Research Trust quarterly report on small business trends and has published in the field of enterprise and deprivation, regeneration and the Liverpool local economy.