A mission of our Chair is to build bridges between academia and practice. While this relationship is sometimes marked by mutual scepticism, we see great potential in the cooperation between the two groups. In business practice, there are many unanswered questions, especially regarding sustainability and its implementation. In many cases, science can be a strong partner here due to its specific know-how on empirical research methods (e.g., regarding impact measurement).
The companies that cooperate with our chair have several advantages, which we would like to explain in the following.
Our partners enable us to continue and further develop our work at the University of Mannheim. Thus, they help the University to anchor the topic of sustainability in its curriculum and to equip tomorrow's managers with the awareness and skills that will enable them to contribute to a sustainable development.
In addition, the University of Mannheim is one of the best business schools in Germany and the Mannheim students are exactly those high potentials which the HR departments are looking for. Taking on a partner role for our chair makes one's own company visible to this target group in the sense of effective employer branding. In addition, joint seminars or guest lectures often provide the opportunity to get into direct contact with possible highly qualified applicants.
Beyond this direct target group, there are also positive image effects due to the partner's role, in particular due to the currentness and relevance of the sustainability topic. The courses and events we organize underline the association with innovation and agility (e.g., hackathons, design thinking workshops, social entrepreneurship seminars).
Last but not least, the intensive contact with our Chair gives partners the opportunity to benefit from our specific competence and know-how in the field of sustainability. The joint examination of practically relevant issues provides starting points for joint research activities. In addition, our Chair also offers special formats that are aimed directly at business practice as a target group, e.g. peer learning platforms, conferences, and networking events.
There are different intensity levels of cooperation. Of course, it is also possible to financially support our chair without getting actively involved in other forms, or to get involved in various forms without making a monetay contribution. If an active role is desired on the side of the partner, it is possible, for example, to be selected for guest lectures in our courses (given the content fits the topic), to offer excursions for students to the company locations, or to organize joint workshops. At a higher level of intensity, it is sometimes possible to write joint case studies or book chapters, or to create digital teaching formats together. At the highest level of cooperation, joint research projects, such as customer or employee surveys can arise.
Together with her colleagues Lars Lengler-Graiff and Prof. Dr. Jan Wieseke, Laura Marie Edinger-Schons received the German Research Award for Best Cooperation between University and Company 2016.
Laura Marie Edinger-Schons was awarded the German Science Award “Best Cooperation” for the collaboration project “Consumer Retailing Insights Panel (CRIP)”. The starting point of her research was that private businesses are increasingly engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. However, day-to-day, managers face manifold unanswered questions concerning the right design and communication of their CSR engagements. How should companies weigh the diverse and often conflicting expectations and claims of their company-internal and external stakeholder groups? Should they involve their stakeholders in CSR-related decisions or should they merely inform them about their CSR strategy? And more importantly: how should they talk about their good deeds?