Making academic research accessible- NBS meets Norwich at Café Conversations 2017

Cafe Convo

The idea behind “NBS meets Norwich” is to bring UEA and Norwich communities together through coffee and conversations. The aim is to increase the engagement of the non-academic audience into research via a joint discussion around some research themes explored in Norwich Business School.

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The programme includes five thought-provoking conversations on various aspects of wellbeing at work and corporate social responsibility. During the conversations, held in the heart of Norwich at North Bar, participants are encouraged to reflect on some questions and to share their experience with the aim of facilitating an evidence-based dialogue.

The series has been organised by Mariella Miraglia (m.miraglia@uea.ac.uk) and Roberta Fida (r.fida@uea.ac.uk) on behalf of the NBS Employment Systems and Institutions (ESI) group.


So far in the series we have had 3 thought provoking conversations-

“Being Part of Something – the Importance of Workplace Belonging”

Kevin Daniels, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, kicked off the series with a conversation on the relevance of workplace belonging for wellbeing at work. His questions for participants were “How does workplace belonging come about?” and “What are its effects on wellbeing?”.

We all know that work should provide more than wages and that workplaces are also places where we can establish meaningful relationships, developing feelings of being part of a wider community. The conversation focused on these processes and on how feeling part of “something bigger” increases wellbeing and productivity.

What works

Kevin also presented the most recent findings from a large project on wellbeing at work, conducted within the Work, Learning and Wellbeing evidence programme for the ESRC funded What Works Wellbeing Centre. The project provides evidence on different aspects of work and wellbeing, and it offers recommendations to turn such evidence into practice. Here some of the main results that Kevin discussed. First, being in a “good”, high quality job is essential for our life satisfaction; likewise, learning and training in the workplace is relevant for our wellbeing; furthermore, wellbeing is hit negatively by unemployment and positively by re-employment; finally, the relation between retirement and wellbeing is complex and depends on factors such as the control over retirement timing and plan, the type of job, and the possibility of taking a “bridging job”.

Want to know more? Visit the What Works Wellbeing Centre website where you can find briefings and factsheets addressing the question “Work and Wellbeing: What Works?”

“Growing wellbeing: The benefits of productive relationships with plants”

David Watson, Senior Research Associate on the Work, Learning and Wellbeing evidence programme for the ESRC funded What Works Wellbeing Centre, led the second conversation focused on the influence of gardening and food growing on wellbeing.

David Group
Audience assembling for David’s cafe conversation

David reported some evidence in support of how growing plants is good for our wellbeing. The benefits are many. Gardening and food growing act as a stress relief, facilitate physical exercise, improve attitudes towards and intake of fruit and vegetables, offer the chance to experiment and learn new skills and an opportunity to connect with nature, strengthening our connection with the broader community. Community food organisations, such as allotments, gardening clubs, community gardens, are crucial to support our wellbeing by giving us the opportunity to exert our agency. Indeed, they provide meaningful work, reconnect people to the local environment, boost social relationships, and contribute to establish a sense of belonging.

Participants reported their personal and passionate experiences with community gardens – some of them were specifically involved into community gardening projects. And… we all went home with some cute (and tasteful) spring onion plants to grow, kindly donated by David!

David onions
David’s spring onions!

“Practice what you preach… is corporate social responsibility meaningful?”

Gaia Melloni, Lecturer in Accounting at NBS, shifted the focus of the conversation to organisations’ responsibility towards the environment, human rights and the society in general. Participants were engaged in a discussion on what Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is, why companies commit to social and environment goals (or should increase their commitment towards them), and why they measure and report on CSR.

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Gaia Melloni

Gaia framed the dialogue by presenting examples of CSR and related research models. Moving away from the negative case of Volkswagen – the well-known recent corporate scandal on neglecting environmental sustainability –, some worldwide and local examples of sustainable companies were shared. Gaia then showed the“three P” keywords – People, Planet and Profit– underlying the idea of sustainability, the pyramid of CSR (business, law, ethics, philanthropy) to illustrate the reasons behind firms’ commitment to CSR, and a useful matrix to make sense of CSR initiatives.

As food for thought, Gaia pointed us towards an interesting lecture- “Accountants Will Save the World” by Peter Bakker on Harvard Business Review (March 05, 2013).



Coming up…

We are hosting two further café conversations this June, and we would love for you to join in the conversation. Both sessions start at 6pm and there is no need to book. Participation is free and coffee/tea will be offered.

Thursday 15 June 

  • Can leaders boost wellbeing?
  • How do the relationships with your leader or followers shape your wellbeing?

To know more, please join the discussion on “Leadership for Wellbeing” led by Annilee Game, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour and Business Ethics.

Thursday 29 June

  • Have you ever worked while ill?

If yes, you should join the conversation on presenteeism “Working while ill: Causes, consequences, and possible solutions?” led by Mariella Miraglia, Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour.

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