January 21, 2014, by ICCSR

Finding My ‘CSR Family’

I recently co-ran a session for the PhD students in the Business School entitled, ‘how to make the most out of conferences.’ As I prepared the slides for this workshop, I began to reflect upon my conference journey, and my elation at finding an academic home for my research at my most recent conference. I realised that whilst I had gained a huge amount from attending focussed PhD seminars alongside larger, more generic management and marketing studies conferences, it was in a specialised ‘CSR Communication’ conference in Aarhus, Denmark that my research ideas really became crystallised and I found my ‘CSR family.’

The benefit of attending a smaller, more focussed conference is that you really feel like you are a part of a research community. It was easy to get to know people during my time in Aarhus, particularly as I had attended the PhD workshop prior to the main conference. I also felt very much connected to the themes being discussed, and the content being shared, in the conference tracks. Both theoretically and methodologically, there were distinct connections between my research and that of other conference participants. Oftentimes, I have felt like the only CSR researcher in the room, or even in a room full of CSR researchers, I have felt like the only CSR communications researcher. Suddenly I was surrounded by researchers interested in CSR communication; my ‘CSR family.’

However with the elation, came a distinct sense of disconcertion. Whilst I may, at times, have felt like a lone soldier in my pursuit of CSR/ communication research goals, my ideas suddenly felt somewhat less distinctive. It felt like everyone was talking about my core conceptual domains: ‘constitutive models of CSR communication’ and ‘dialogical theory’…. How would my ideas stand out in front of these seasoned academics who truly were experts in the field? As I presented my work, my apprehension gave way to enthusiasm. There was a real appetite for my research amongst the conference goers and the comments and questions levied against the presentation were both constructive, relevant and well-grounded. It felt that the questions, in fact, cut right to the core of my research project.

Attending this specialised conference really enabled me to crystallise my research agenda by providing me with a clearer sense of the conversations I was joining, the conceptual and empirical contexts receiving attention in my area of focus, and perhaps most importantly, a greater understanding of the people who comprise my ‘CSR family.’ And as I told the PhD students in the ‘how to make the most out of conferences’ workshop, attending more specialist conferences can be a great way to figure out your research identity.

By Sarah Glozer (@Sarah_CSR), Doctoral Researcher
ICCSR, Nottingham University Business School.

Image – courtesy of Sarah (front row, second from left)

Posted in Academic ACTIVITY