RRBM Dare to Care Dissertation Scholarships

2022 Winners

Sponsored by the Community for
Responsible Research in Business and Management (RRBM)

Co-Sponsor: The International Association for Chinese Management Research



RRBM and its co-sponsors are pleased to announce the recipients of the inaugural RRBM Dare to Care Dissertation Scholarships. The scholarships recognize doctoral students in business schools who are conducting dissertation research that follows the principles of responsible research. This year’s scholarship program focused on topics related to economic inequality, racial, gender or other forms of social justice in organizations, thereby contributing to meeting one or more of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.


This year’s winners were selected from among more than 80 applications. Applications were evaluated by a committee composed of senior scholar winners of the responsible research award and accomplished professors who support the principles of responsible research.


2022 Scholarship Winners 

(click on the title of the work to see a research summary and its alignment with the RRBM Principles of Responsible Research)


N. Derek Brown
Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

Examining the Misperception that Equality is Harmful to Advantaged Group Members

Research Summary:

Why does inequality persist even when it extracts a price from everyone in society? In my dissertation, I integrate theories of social identity with theorizing on zero-sum thinking to understand individuals’ perceptions towards policies aimed at reducing social inequalities of all kinds. I argue that advantaged group members––the people with perhaps the greatest power to create change––fundamentally misperceive equality-enhancing policies as harmful to the advantaged group, even when policies do not harm them. I also hypothesize that advantaged group members hold more inaccurate perceptions of equality policies than do disadvantaged group members. Based on these central predictions, my dissertation research is also focused on (a) investigating mechanisms that may explain the discrepancy between advantaged and disadvantaged group members (e.g., motivated reasoning, group dominance, fairness perceptions), (b) understanding consequences of this misperception (e.g., endorsement of anti-egalitarian ideologies), and (c) testing intervention strategies to reduce individuals’ misperception of policies that enhance equality and could benefit everyone in society. To investigate whether (or not) these perceptions are indeed misperceptions, I focus on non-zero-sum equality policy solutions that propose either increasing resources to disadvantaged group members without affecting the resources to advantaged group members, or policies that propose increasing the resources to both disadvantaged and advantaged group members. In doing this, I am able to examine whether participants still perceive such equality-enhancing policies as harmful to the advantaged groups’ ability to access material resources, even when they do not change or improve advantaged groups’ resource access. It is my hope that this dissertation, and subsequent program of research, reveal that the most promising, and effective, path towards achieving equality is one that ties the interests of everyone together; that we can only win if we all win.


Alignment with RRBM Principles of Responsible Research:

In my dissertation, I integrate theories of social identity with theorizing on zero-sum thinking to argue that advantaged group members misperceive equality-enhancing policies as harmful to the advantaged group, even when policies do not harm them. I also hypothesize that advantaged group members hold more inaccurate perceptions of equality policies than do members of disadvantaged groups. This research is connected to the RRBM principles of responsible research in various ways. In accordance with Principles 1-2, this research offers theoretical contributions to research in organizational behavior and social psychology and provides practical contributions to policymakers that aim to increase equality within business and society. In line with Principles 3-5, I will conduct a series of experiments in which I will recruit a diverse pool or participants, explore perceptions of equality policies across various group boundaries, examine perceptions between both real groups (e.g., White and Black Americans) and in arbitrary group settings, and obtain data from online and field settings. In line with Principles 6-7, I hope to not just share this work within academic settings but also to help practitioners translate the insights from this body of work into equality-enhancing policies that can help construct a better, more equitable society.

Ibrat Djabbarov
Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University

What is the role of empathy in institutional change?

Research Summary:

Each year around 5.5 million children under 5 years and pregnant women die from diseases that can be prevented by improving access to basic healthcare. Whilst the number of organizations advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) proliferated, including SDG3 to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, many of their initiatives have been criticized as ineffective in part because they were not adequately sensitive to the local context and poorly formulated theories of change (Calderisi, 2012; Ramalingham, 2013). Management and organization studies, particularly the work examining institutional change can be helpful in developing insights that could advance, what Rosalind Eyben refers to as, “new ways of thinking” (Eyben, 2008) about how individuals and organizations can engage in institutional change, including improving access to healthcare services for young children and their families.

Through this study I seek to develop conceptual and actionable insights that could inform and encourage new ways of thinking and practices for actors engaged in systems change that usually accompanies the advancement of the SDGs. I adopt qualitative research methods to examine the work of institutional entrepreneurs – actors purposefully seeking to change institutional arrangements within an organization or a field (Garud, Hardy, & Maguire, 2007) – driven by the vision that one day no child dies from preventable diseases. Specifically, I want to explore the role of empathy in how actors make sense and enact change to yield research insights into the processes of institutional change at a micro level.

Alignment with RRBM Principles of Responsible Research

  • Principle 1: I seek to develop insights that can help actors engaging with complex systems and embark on change thoughtfully.
  • Principle 2: My research aims to integrate theory-based puzzle and practice-led problems to contribute to knowledge development and how it is applied by stakeholders.
  • Principle 3: Whilst this study is primarily located in management research, it intersects with development studies and policy studies.
  • Principle 4: This study utilizes several qualitative sources of data to probe and enrich the insights – interviews, documents analysis, and observations.
  • Principle 5: Engaging different stakeholders from the beginning was important to defining the scope and emphasis of what I studied, whilst also being open to surprises.
  • Principle 6: My hope is that the research insights can benefit a variety of groups – managers, policy makers, professionals, students – to consider alternative ways of thinking and practicing change.
  • Principle 7: My aim is to produce different outputs based on the research findings, including a journal publication, a teaching case study, a practice-oriented work, and a blog.

Olivia Foster-Gimbel
Stern School of Business, New York University

In the face of challenges, how do workplace allies maintain their commitment to reducing systemic inequity?

Research Summary:

Over the past few years, organizations have developed new programming to encourage their employees to become allies, those who advocate and actively work for the inclusion of marginalized groups, not as a member of that group but in solidarity with its struggle. This was fueled by the summer of 2020 with the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement during the racially fraught climate of the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, after George Floyd was murdered, organizations held webinars encouraging their members to evaluate their own privileges and employees began forming resource groups for those learning to be an ally for the first time. Allyship may be a powerful tool for increasing social equity, however, more research is needed to understand whether allies are effective at helping organizations meet their social equity goals. A particular threat to the impact of allyship is ambiguity: allyship is a new concept for many people and employees may not know how to be an ally. I suggest that this ambiguity may leave individuals unsure about how to behave as an ally, which can lead to paralysis and inaction. Allies may acknowledge that they should do something to reduce inequity but may feel like there are no clear right answers and many areas for potential missteps. As a result, employee’s commitment to and engagement in allyship may be especially likely to decrease over time, even after initially joining newly formed organizational allyship resource groups. The idea that organizational allyship programs may be all talk is major threat – marginalized employees are tired of empty promises. Thus, my research question asks: given ambiguity, how do workplace allies maintain their commitment to reducing systemic inequity? I study these emerging programs to understand how to reduce inequities and achieve justice for all through organizational allyship.

Alignment with RRBM Principles of Responsible Research:

My research follows the principles of responsible science. I contribute knowledge of allyship programs that will help organizations meet their social equity goals (Principle 1&2). My research develops new theories of allyship in management, drawing on research in multiple disciplines such as psychology, sociology, and education (Principle 2&3). I adopt a mixed-methods approach, conducting interviews with those organizing allyship programming in their companies to identify potential explanations which I can then test in a pre-registered experiment to ensure falsification of theory (Principle 4). This ensures that I ground my research in stakeholder insights without compromising academic integrity (Principle 5). In addition to publishing my results in a peer-reviewed journal, I will partner with companies to share my findings and see how they benefit from the insights I uncover (Principle 6&7). This research thus represents the beginning of a scholarly journey to understand how to create long-term societal impact through allyship.

Ouafaa Hmaddi
Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon

Can we Bridge the resource gap for disadvantaged entrepreneurs? A randomized field experiment in Morocco

Research Summary:

Exploiting an entrepreneurial idea requires the right combination of factors, timing, and sometimes sheer luck. I examine what it takes to help entrepreneurs who need more luck than most to act on their idea, persist in the initial stages of the entrepreneurial process, and develop a successful strategy – those who live in areas where access to resources is extremely constrained both pre-entry (education and labor) and post-entry into entrepreneurship (training, mentoring, and funding). Specifically, I investigate how entrepreneurial action, persistence, and strategy formation in early-stage ventures are influenced by ventures’ access to different types of resources and whether such resources can offset the large gaps in resource endowment. In investigating this question, I try to emancipate the literature of resource mobilization from its selection biases to determine the causal effect of access to resources within an environment with high levels of human, social and financial capital inequalities. Whereas existing research has identified the impact of acquired and endowed resources together, in enabling entrepreneurial action and persistence, far less attention has been devoted to understanding such impact when the gaps in endowment are large and the chances to access are equal. I posit that access to resources would help increase entrepreneurial action even when large gaps in human and social capital endowment exist because it increases the entrepreneurs’ self-perceived quality and gives them access to information that helps the entrepreneur plan and know how to act. I further predict that access to funding helps increase persistence because it gives the entrepreneurs the slack needed to access more of their cognitive and emotional resources. Moreover, financial resources help the entrepreneurs experiment and pivot so they can persist longer using different learning mechanisms. In short, I plan to contribute to the general knowledge for both academics and policymakers to design and implement entrepreneurial policies that make entrepreneurship a path to reduce inequality rather than means to increase inequalities.


Alignment with RRBM Principles of Responsible Research

Principle 1—Service to Society: Bridging the resource gap for entrepreneurs serves disadvantaged entrepreneurs and the broader society given that such gap spills over to the product market representing the needs of unprivileged individuals.

Principle 2—Valuing Both Basic and Applied Contributions: Resource allocation within resource constrained environments is at the center of attention of resource holders such as policy makers and accelerators.

Principle 3—Valuing Plurality and Multidisciplinary Collaboration: In studying entrepreneurial resource mobilization, I bring my organizational research training and borrow from the literature and methodologies of development economics to guide my theoretical thinking and research design.

Principle 4—Sound Methodology: This research is based on a randomized field experiment. For more details, the pre-registration ID for this experiment is RCT ID AEARCTR-0005305.

Principle 5—Stakeholder Involvement: Working closely with the host organization and being in the field during the design and implementation is key driver for the success of this experiment.

Principle 6—Impact on Stakeholders: This research helps entrepreneurial resource holders (induvial and institutional) understand how to optimally allocate their resources to disadvantaged entrepreneurs.

Principle 7—Broad Dissemination: I plan to share the results of this research with scholars as well as practitioners through academic papers, conferences, blog posts, and white papers.

Diana Jue-Rajasingh
Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

Why do markets and companies that exist to create social value, such as those that promote products addressing global health and human development challenges, often fail or are slow to grow? How can these market and institutional challenges be overcome?

Research Summary:

Millions of people around the world are exposed to contaminants in the environment, such as water-borne diseases and air pollution, resulting in social justice issues highlighted by multiple UN Sustainable Development Goals including “good health and well-being,” “reduced inequality,” and “gender equality.” Environmental health innovations like inexpensive water purifiers and smoke-reducing cookstoves, have been designed for the most vulnerable “base of the pyramid” consumers. The reality, however, is that these innovations have not attained full-fledged acceptance, acquisition, and adoption. Along with the public and social sector, private sector actors are increasingly involved in the provision of these health-protecting innovations. That said, although for-profit business models have taken up the mission to provide these products, few have done so successfully. My dissertation research is motivated by the following questions: Why do markets and companies that exist to create social value, such as those that promote products addressing global health and human development challenges, often fail or are slow to grow? How can these market and institutional challenges be overcome? My dissertation consists of three studies that examine aspects of the consumer adoption and firm provision of environmental health innovations. In my first study, I study the role of social impact framing in persuading partners to join value chains for these innovations. In my second study, I study the role of mobile phone-based reminders in convincing consumers of these products’ long-term value. In my third study, I study how funders shape emerging markets for these life-improving innovations through their preferences for certain types of ventures and entrepreneurs. Together, these studies address not only the UN Sustainable Development Goals mentioned above, but also “partnerships,” “no poverty,” and “decent work and economic growth,” as they explore ways to pursue inclusive and equitable development with the involvement of the private sector.

Alignment with RRBM Principles of Responsible Research:

This research design follows the principles of responsible research. Because my dissertation topic directly addresses issues of social justice and equitable development, this research is in service to society (Principle 1). The results of this work include implementable strategies that can be immediately put into practice by socially motivated firms operating in the field (Principle 2). Because this design relies heavily on global fieldwork, it draws on the contributions and perspectives of a variety of local stakeholders and tests interventions in the local context (Principles 3 and 5). Experiments will be pre-registered, and all human interactions will be put before the relevant institutional review board (Principle 4). Since my research has important practical implications for stakeholders (e.g., users, funders, entrepreneurs, and industry associations promoting environmental health innovations), I will also write and disseminate short practitioner-oriented reports for communities of practice, such as the Clean Cooking Alliance, which would be interested in these findings, as well professional journals, such as the Stanford Social Innovation Review (Principle 6 and 7).

Ussama Ahmad Khan
Foster School of Business, University of Washington

How do organizations fighting poverty form relationships based on trust, respect, and support with their beneficiaries? How do these relationships allow people in poverty to experience growth in their financial, social, emotional, and cognitive well-being?

Research Summary:

The world today is faced with several grand challenges. One of those grand challenges is global poverty and inequality. Millions of people around the world live under conditions of extreme financial hardship and vulnerability. Organizations have played a key role in the fight against poverty. One of the most promising interventions for poverty alleviation was the advent of the microfinance model where poor people were offered micro-loans to start or expand their business ventures. However, recent evidence has suggested that microfinance has not had the transformative effect that was hoped for. I suggest that part of the reason that microfinance has not been as effective is because it has primarily used an economics lens to understand the issue of poverty and inequality. However, in addition to financial hardship, the poor face other forms of hardships including health inequality, trauma, and human-right violations. In this dissertation, I use an organizational behavior lens to theorize the role of relationships based on respect, trust, and support in how microfinance organizations can become more effective and help people living in poverty to heal from the social, emotional, and cognitive effects of poverty. To answer these questions, I focus on Akhuwat, Pakistan’s largest microfinance organization that charges zero interest on its loans and aims to eradicate poverty through compassion, equity, and dignity. In Study 1, I conducted over 40 interviews with Akhuwat borrowers and other key stakeholders. Using emerging insights from the qualitative study of the lives of the poor, I plan to conduct a field survey study and a randomized control trial study. This research has the potential to change the landscape of the microfinance industry in Pakistan and other developing countries and has important implications for how organizations conceptualize helping the poor.

Alignment with RRBM Principles of Responsible Research:

This research aims to develop theoretical as well as applied knowledge on how development and microfinance organizations create relationships with their beneficiaries based on respect, trust, and support, and the social-psychological processes through which such relationships enable growth in their financial, emotional, social, and cognitive well-being (Principles 1 and 2). By integrating theories from multiple disciplines (economics, microfinance, organizational behavior) and using rigorous methodology (qualitative, filed surveys, and filed experiments), this research hopes to generate novel insights into the phenomenon (Principles 3 and 4). Throughout the processes of refining the study design as well as later on, regular interaction and exchange with key stakeholders including Akhuwat management has enabled this work to be grounded in the social and cultural realities of the context as well-being practically relevant (Principles 5 and 6). I hope to disseminate the lessons from this research across multiple academic as well as practitioner forums that will create greater awareness and impact (Principle 7).

Afsa Mukasa
Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde

How do ties (or gaps) between indigenous informal micro-entrepreneurs and MNEs support or deter entrepreneurship, and how can they be leveraged for more inclusive growth?

Research Summary:

On one hand, 80% of sub-Saharan’s economic activity occurs in the informal space (Banerjee & Duflo, 2011; Chen, 2001; Williams et al., 2011) yet this sector contributes averagely 38% to regional (GDP) growth. On the other, women represent 60% of this activity (GEM, 2019) yet the financing gap for African women in agricultural value chains is estimated at USD 15.6 Billion (AFFAWA, 2021). This situation needs urgent redress.

Base of the Pyramid (BoP) models (Prahalad & Hammond, 2002) provide a blue print against which most decisions by global organizations are made today: they propose that by availing basic goods and services in developing markets, MNEs drive growth and contribute to poverty alleviation. MNEs are vital: large employers, technology providers, and tax payers with under-utilized capacity to consume locally produced goods. However riots against them are rampant: catalyzed by the global pandemic. This is paradoxical. Different social-political risks e.g. the Jacob Zuma riots of 2021, George Floyd moment, and “Me too” movement precipitate and similarly burst into a deadly and rather spectacular display of the gap between indigenous people and MNEs. Societal expectation has certainly changed.

When conflict or revolution manifests, normal science must prevail (Kuhn, 1996; 2021). So we challenge the relevance of BoP assumptions. The study evolves into business model development via an ecosystem exploration. Using embeddedness theory (Granovetter, 1973), we showcase the role of an intermediary BPW Uganda (www.bpw-international.org). Women-led actors bridge the informal and formal space and build synergies with civil sector, policy makers, and international networks. We conceptualize how the model applies to MNEs. Symbolic directives of Mandela (2005) towards equality warrant a mandate to reorient our global attention to host communities as primary stakeholder (Mukasa et al., 2021).

Alignment with RRBM Principles of Responsible Research:

I empirically study peripheral yet mainstream communities in the Global South, marred with issues of inequality (Principle 1). The research contributes towards theory and practice (Principle 2). Informality is complex and diverse: so to ensure quality research, findings from Uganda are explained by drawing parallels to South Africa and elsewhere in and outside the region (Principle 3). Action research and phenomenology involving 3 phases of data collection over a 10 year period from 2013 to 2022 is engaged, following the Gioia method of grounded theory (Principle 4). In addition to exploring the two private sector actors and a gender-led intermediary, I engage an ecosystem approach interviewing practitioners and policy makers to widen the source. The above steps set the scene for disseminating findings towards practical implications after completion of the research (Principle 5). I will utilize the existing BPW platform and partner with responsible practitioners such as AfDB, ITC, UN women, NSSF, and PSFU to influence government policy (Principle 6). Open data sharing principles apply. Preliminary findings attracted an invitation to publish a book (Palgrave Macmillan) on the broad research topic which posits continuous simulation by engaging more case studies (Principle 7).


  1. AFFAWA (Affirmative Finance action for African Women), African Development Bank, https://www.afdb.org/en/topics-and-sectors/initiatives-partnerships/afawa-affirmative-finance-action-women-africa
  2. Banerjee, A. V., & Duflo, E. (2011). 02 A billion hungry peoples? In Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty. https://doi.org/10.1108/13666282200100026
  3. Bosma, N., & Kelley, D. (2019). Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report: 2018/2019. In Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.
  4. Chen, M.A., 2001. Women and informality: A global picture, the global movement. Sais Review21(1), pp.71-82.
  5. Granovetter, M.S., 1973. The strength of weak ties. American journal of sociology78(6), pp.1360-1380.
  6. Kuhn, T., 2021.The structure of scientific revolutions (pp. 176-177). Princeton University Press.
  7. Mandela, N., 2005. Make Poverty History http://www.cippusa.com/in-full-mandelas-poverty-speech/
  8. Mukasa, A., Sahasranamam, S. and Nicolopoulou, K., 2021, March. A review of technological micro-entrepreneur-multinational enterprise ties in sub-Saharan Africa: integrating effectuation into base of the pyramid model. In 21st Annual Conference of the European Academy of Management.
  9. Prahalad, C. K., & Hammond, A. (2002). Serving the world’s poor, profitably. In Harvard Business Review.
  10. RRBM position paper, accessible from www.rrbm.network
  11. Tsui, A.S., 2019. Guidepost: Responsible research and responsible leadership studies. Academy of Management Discoveries, (ja).
  12. Williams, C.C., Shahid, M.S. and Martínez, A., 2016. Determinants of the level of informality of informal micro-enterprises: Some evidence from the city of Lahore, Pakistan. World Development84, pp.312-325.