1 June 2022

How do intentional efforts of climate activists or pro-democratic movements shift our beliefs and behaviours towards grand societal challenges such as climate change or the Covid-19 pandemic?
Students receive feedback in the student-led purposeful work symposium

In our purposeful work symposium (PSW) we (Laura, Stella, Bennet, and Venus) brought together young scholars who researched in the area of purposeful work and offered them a forum to discuss their research and develop new ideas through discussion with their peers.

The symposium was part of the world-class workshops series that was awarded funding by the University of Edinburgh Business School in 2022. The event took place in a hybrid form on 18 May 2022 at the Business School. Participants from six universities in Europe and the USA attended.

Professor Tom Lawrence (University of Oxford) and Professor Nelson Phillips (University of California) gave insightful talks to participants. At the same time, together with Professor John Amis and Dr Andrea Wessendorf (University of Edinburgh), they also provided feedback to all submitted papers.

Created specifically for PhD students, the symposium was also meant as an opportunity to network in a small and familiar environment with peers interested in closely related areas and leading academics in the field of purposeful work.

In the symposium, we discussed purposeful work, particularly focusing on the newly developed concept of social symbolic work. Therefore, we discussed in detail the efforts of interested actors in shaping our beliefs and behaviours towards today's grand challenges. Taking a social-symbolic work lens, we engaged with and critically discussed the assumptions and boundaries of the vibrant traditions of research that explore the intended work of reflexive actors such as emotions, identities, relationships, boundaries, and institutions.

How did we engage and discuss these timely and pressing issues?

08:30: Participants arrive

The day started with participants arriving at the Business School's concourse. We all had the chance to mingle, discuss interesting academic ideas and expand our networks.

09:00: Professor Tom Lawrence's talk on theorising

Tom Lawrence presenting at the student-led purposeful work symposium

Professor Tom Lawrence kicked the day off with an interesting presentation on theorising within management research. Both PWS participants and PhD students from the University of Edinburgh had the chance to receive invaluable advice on what theorising means and should look like within academic writing.

10:00: Participants receive feedback on submitted papers

Following his enlightening morning session, Professor Tom Lawrence and Professor John Amis provided feedback to the first group of PWS participants that had submitted papers to our symposium. All participants had the opportunity to present their work, ask questions and receive suggestions for improvement.

12:00: Lunch

All vibrant discussions continued as we all had lunch together on the concourse. Plans for summer conferences, workshops and symposiums in different countries were also made.

13:00: Professor Nelson Phillips' talk on using empirical data in management research

Coming back from our break, Professor Nelson Phillips joined us virtually from California and talked about how to use and analyse empirical data in management research. Again, all PhD students from the University of Edinburgh could join, so the conference room was full of vibrant participants with multiple questions.

14:00: Participants receive feedback on submitted papers

The time had now come for the second and final group of our PWS to receive feedback on submitted papers. This time Professor Nelson Phillips, together with Dr Andrea Wessendorf, facilitated the discussions and provided participants with enlightening information across their line of work.

17:00: Wine and dinner

Participants of the symposium gathering for food and drinks

After a long day, all participants and organisers gathered together for food and drinks. This was a fantastic experience! Thank you to all of you, participants, academics, and members of staff that made this possible!

By Stella Kyratzi