Promoting Neuro-Inclusion in Bordeaux

Ben Morris is a PhD candidate at Birkbeck’s Centre for Neurodiversity at Work. He reflects on a presentation given at the 15th European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology Conference, 6-8 July 2022, University of Bordeaux, France.

To what extent does the traditional triad job selection process (CV, interview,
references) hinder job seekers who are neurodiverse or neurotypical to access

Even though there are a lot of programmes like ‘Autism at Work’ and other
employment initiatives for people with disabilities, the employment gap for
neurodiverse people is still big. One of the things that makes it hard for neurodiverse
people to get and keep regular, paid work is that the world of work is set up for
neurotypical people, including the recruitment process.

At the conference in Bordeaux, I talked about my future research, which will be about
finding the right ‘fit’ and how, when done right, this can help both the neurodiverse
person and the organisation. Finding the right ‘fit’ for an organisation can be good
for the health and well-being of employees. The hiring process can also have an
effect on an applicant’s health. I also talked about the good things and strengths
about hiring a neurodiverse person from an employer’s point of view and used
evidence from the literature to back this up. I told them that my study would be about
the ways that the traditional triad recruitment process chooses people (CV, interview
and reference).

The goal of the study is to answer the question, ‘To what extent does the traditional
triad job selection process (CV, interview, references) hinder job seekers who are
neurodiverse or neurotypical to access employment?’

I went on to say that the methods used to do this will be based on a review of the
literature and conversations with stakeholders, including people who have lived

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Publishing for real-world impact: helping engaged scholars navigating the publication process

Dr Konstantinos Chalkias was a keynote speaker on impactful research at the Academy of Management Paper Development Workshop in August.

Dr Konstantinos Chalkias, Senior Lecturer in Birkbeck’s Department of Management was a keynote speaker at the Academy of Management Paper Development Workshop ‘Publishing for Real-World Impact: Helping Engaged Scholars Navigating the Publication Process’ on 6 August 2022.

The hybrid panel event, organised by the Impact Scholar Community, invited editor-author pairs to discuss the process of conducting and publishing research with impact.

Panellists were invited to comment on preparing a manuscript for submission with impact in mind; interacting with editors; and connecting published work with practice to maximise impact.

Reflecting on his 2019 paper ‘Exploring inter-organizational paradoxes: methodological lessons from a study of a grand challenge’, Konstantinos noted the synergies between writing papers and producing impactful work: “I believe that working on impact enables us to write better papers and working on papers enables us to have better impact.” Both Konstantinos and co-author Paula Jarzabkowski cautioned against producing work for the sake of impact, commenting instead that when research is high quality and answering important questions, it will inevitably involve generating impact in practice.

Konstantinos also commented on the value that editors bring to the paper development process. Editors can be instrumental in encouraging the authors to include more of the study’s context in the paper, bringing the grand challenge they explored to life.

The discussion was part of the 82nd Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management.

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How analysing co-creation during the Covid-19 pandemic offers insights on the simultaneous generation of academic, social and business value

Dr Muthu de Silva from the department of Management gives an overview of the findings of two recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reports, published with her co-authors, about the role co-creation played during the Covid-19 pandemic, and how it can shape innovation going forward.  

Co-creation is a mechanism of simultaneously generating academic, business and social value. During co-creation actors of the innovation ecosystem – such as businesses, universities, governments, intermediaries and society – act as collaborators to integrate their knowledge, resources, and networks to generate mutual benefits. The idea behind co-creation is that the joint efforts towards change or impact can lead to lasting and effective innovation.  

As an institution, Birkbeck is committed to delivering theoretically rigorous research with real-terms, practical impact, and a concept like co-creation is a really great way to facilitate this. Co-creating with non-academics enables academics to integrate needs and resources of both academic and non-academic communities, enhancing the reach and usefulness of their research.   

Over the years, I’ve published about 20 journal articles on the topic of co-creation and received eight best paper awards for these publications. In 2019, I was invited by the Working Party on Innovation and Technology Policy of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to develop a conceptual framework on co-creation between science and industry. This meant publishing a high quality journal article and leading their 2021 – 2024 co-creation project that directly influences the strategies of innovation agencies, and ministries of 37 countries who belong to the OECD, and a wider audience that benefits from OECD publications.  

This work resulted in two reports and a journal article designed to influence innovation strategies of OECD member states. It has also resulted in leading another project regarding the importance of university and industry co-creation for a societal and economic green transition.  

Based on evidence gathered from 30 COVID-19 co-creation initiatives from 21 countries and three international cases, the two reports showed that co-creation was widely used to respond to the challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. What was evident through the reports was that existing co-creation networks enabled the rapid emergence of new initiatives to address urgent needs, while digital technologies enabled establishing new – and, where necessary, socially distanced – collaborations.  

For instance, co-creation of medical innovation relied on substantially larger existing networks due to the complexity of medical discovery and manufacturing processes involved in developing these innovations. The COVID-19 Türkiye Platform, the transnational Exscalate4CoV, and the UK’s Oxford-AstraZeneca initiatives are examples of this. Digital tools were also used in numerous ways. As an example, the COVID Moonshot project which aimed to develop antiviral drugs against COVID-19 by identifying new molecules that could block SARS-CoV-2, involved three scientists who organised a hackathon inviting researchers/virologists to submit molecules, donations and assays (testing) via Twitter, resulting in over 4 000 submissions.  

Aside from funding initiatives, governments engaged actively in co-creation by granting access to their networks, advising on initiative goals and offering support to improve quick delivery.  The role of civil society was important as well, and the socially impactful nature of research and innovation was a motivating factor for engagement. For example, the Austrian COVID-19 Pop-up Hub initiative; the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology co-developed the themes (Digital Health, Distancing, Economic Buffers and State Intervention) for public virtual discussion and participatory policy idea development taking place via the Hub.  

What emerged from the reports, were the following lessons for the design and implementation of future policy programmes for co-creation:   

  • Purpose is the strongest driver of co-creation; incentives to support co-creation should go beyond facilitating access to funding.  
  • Crisis-specific programmes may not be needed out of the crisis, but networks and infrastructures should be strengthened during “normal” times. 
  • There is room for building new collaborations between researchers and producers to accelerate innovation during “normal” times.  
  • Policy should support wider development and use of digital tools for co-creation.  
  • New approaches should be leveraged more to tap into the large pool of diverse and readily available capacities in the economy.  
  • Governments’ involvement in co-creation activities as network builders can help speed up solutions; enhanced agility in their operations should be encouraged.  
  • Public engagement in co-creation can help market uptake of new solutions. 

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Working with local council to reduce plastic waste

Single-use plastic has become increasingly common in our news feeds, and not for good reason. Microplastics are now showing up in meat products and even in our blood. It will take a collaborative effort from government, business and individuals to tackle our plastic waste problem. We caught up with Dr Pamela Yeow, Reader in Management to discuss her research into ethical consumerism.

Image of a reuse logo

Tell us more about the Ethical Consumerism project

The project began in 2014 with my collaborators from the University of Essex and the University of Kent. We wanted to understand why households weren’t adopting certain ethical behaviors and what could be done about it. In our first paper on the topic, we explored the case study of bags for life and noted the role of both individuals and institutions in encouraging sustained behavioral change towards more ethical consumerism.

When the opportunity arose to further this research with funding from the Birkbeck COVID-19 Recovery fund, we decided to explore the role of the householder in tackling the reduction, recycling and reusing of plastics in a sustainable way. We chose to focus on householders because the decision as to what to do with single-use plastic waste in the home ultimately lies with individual consumers.

With the generous support of Haringey council, we were given the opportunity to interview a variety of stakeholders within their community. These included decision-makers at different levels and residents and householders living in that area. We found a few things:

  • Organisations and individuals have different and inconsistent views on waste

Our discussions with consumers and members of the council revealed different and sometimes conflicting prioriities when it comes to waste management, for example in the case of contaminated waste. Contamination results from the co-mingling of recyclable and non-recyclable products. This includes items that the processing facility cannot or will not accept or items that are acceptable but not clean. For the council, contaminated waste represents a loss of income, as it is no longer recyclable. For consumers, the co-mingling of waste at the point of recycling suggested that there was little commitment by the council to recycle.

  • Residents don’t agree on who is responsible for waste management

Our interviews uncovered that there was no clear line of responsibility for managing plastic waste. Opinions differed on whether responsibility rested with residents, many of whom were tenants, or landlords and housing agents. With a large, transient resident population in Haringey, there is also a need for continuous and consistent messaging to ensure recycling and waste disposal is done properly.

  • A collaborative approach is needed to bring together residents, local authorities and wider infrastructure

With many community champions who are keen to be ethical consumers who reduce or reuse single-use plastic, there are ample opportunities for the council to co-design campaigns and get whole neighbourhoods involved.

How will this research impact household recycling practices?

As a result of this research, Haringey council has pledged the following actions:

  • Put support in place to help all Haringey businesses reduce the sale and use of single use plastics.
  • Improve waste management infrastructure by auditing containers at street-based properties and properties with communal bins.
  • Review the council’s contamination policy and communications with residents to reduce contamination and ensure more waste can be recycled.
  • Encourage buy-in for recycling services from landlords and residents in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) by ensuring representation of the waste team at the council’s HMO working group.
  • Gather up to date data on current use of waste and recycling services across the borough.

Councillor Chandwani, Cabinet Member for Tackling Inequality and Resident Services said:“We are determined to exceed the Mayor of London’s target of recycling 50% of our household waste, but this can only be achieved by working with our communities to find solutions that will enable us to reach our joint ambition. To help achieve this ambition we have recently launched ‘Destination 50%’; a strategic campaign to deliver a range of initiatives co-produced with local residents.“Our partnership with Birkbeck, University of London has been an invaluable tool in the Destination 50% programme. Through their research with residents we have really important insights, exploring the complexities that come in an urban borough with a mix of housing tenure, architecture, socio-economic conditions and diversity of culture and languages. All of these aspects make Haringey a wonderful place, but it also means that our recycling targets can only be met if we match the range of factors in our borough.We are grateful to the Birkbeck Research team for the opportunity to access their skills and expertise that have led to in-depth conversations with residents, Veolia and Council staff objectively and independently. Without them we could not have had the candid dialogue needed. The findings have enhanced the innovative transformational approach of the programme with some changes already being implemented. I would also like to thank all the residents who gave up their time to engage in the research. Sharing their experiences, perspectives and ideas has been at the heart of this project and we will continue to listen to their views.”

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