Tusculum professor awarded research contract with Kettering Foundation

Dr. Joshua Ray, assistant professor for management and chair of the management department at Tusculum, has been awarded a research contract with the Kettering Foundation of Dayton, Ohio.

Dr. Ray will be collaborating with two other business faculty from small colleges, Dr. Susan Aloi, director of the School of Business at West Virginia Wesleyan College, and Dr. Glenn King, chair of the Division of Business at Concordia College in Selma, Alabama. These three faculty will utilize the technique of deliberative dialogue in various classroom settings to guide college students in studying the role of business in society.

According to the World Economic Forum, the role of business over time has remained fairly constant: to provide goods and services that people need and want.  Decades ago, business students were taught that the primary, or even sole, role of business was to maximize profit for the owner. Over time, however, society has grown to distrust business and developed higher expectations than simply the provisions of goods and services.

The public wants these goods to be safe, well-made, and provide good value. They want business leaders to be ethical, and for businesses to contribute to the well-being of their communities.  Today’s new employees, the millennials, are concerned with the purpose of the organizations in which they spend their working days. Research indicates that most employees are at least as much, if not more, motivated by purpose as they are by profit.

According to Dr. Ray, this Kettering research contract will enable students in a variety of business classes at these three colleges to learn how to utilize the process of deliberative dialogue in exploring various views on the role of businesses in communities. Deliberative dialogue is a technique to encourage discussion participants to explore a problem from a variety of perspectives and to intentionally draw out the advantages and challenges of each viewpoint.

Dr. Ray, Dr. Aloi, and Dr. King have been trained as moderators for deliberative dialogue through the Kettering Foundation. The Kettering Foundation supports the work of deliberative dialogue in Centers and other formats around the world.  Kettering sponsors activities that study democracy from a citizen-centered perspective. The sense that ordinary citizens desire to be in control of their daily lives is a basic focus of Kettering’s research.

Specifically, Dr. Ray and his co-researchers will be investigating these questions: What is the role of business schools and their faculties in shaping students’ awareness of the relationship between businesses and society; How can deliberative dialogue, based on the deliberative dialogue model, be used in a variety of classroom settings to frame the discussion on the role of business in society; and How will students’ participation in such dialogues affect how they interact in the communities in which they live and work as business people after graduation.

Throughout the next several academic semesters, Dr. Ray and his co-researchers will integrate different models of deliberative dialogue in a variety of business courses at their institutions. Students will learn how to lead discussions that promote civic dialogue in other classrooms and in their communities.

For more information about this research, please contact Dr. Ray at jray@tusculum.edu.