Academic Should Not Be Too Involved In Social Business

THURSDAY, 21 NOVEMBER 2013 08:26

By Shahfizal Musa
Pix Raai Osman

BANGI, 8 Nov 2013 – Academics must not get too involved in social business because it may undermine their role, said a Social Entreprenuership Professor from Denmark.

As observers and researchers who needed to find accurate answers about social business they should not be influenced by the excitement ensued.

Prof Lars Hulgard from Roskilde University said this in his keynote address at the 1stInternational Research Conference on Social Business held in The National University of Malaysia UKM) here today.

Organised by UKM and The Grameen Creative Lab Germany the conference was to chart and accelerate social business as an alternative economy.

Social business is a business that is not profit motivated but with its main objective of solving society’s most pressing problems.

He said if academics were to carry out their research and analyse social business objectively, then they should not be directly involved in social business as that would cloud their judgment resulting in them overlooking certain things.

The distance will enable the academic to give his most objective analysis so as to chart the future of social business.

His suggestion was unexpected because many of the social business projects that were set up around the world have the academics involved as catalyst or actors.

Academics have crossed the boundaries of being passive observers but are now making a difference by getting their hands dirty.

There have been some immediate changes, a difference seen and felt beyond the academic world.  But even so, Prof Hulgard felt that was not necessarily good in developing social business as an alternative economy.

He gave an example of a surgeon doing his job effectively. Surgeons have such a steady hands when operating on patients.

But if the patient is his own son or daughter, his hands may tremble because he is closely affected by the outcome. Thus surgeons do not normally conduct surgery on their own family members.

Similarly academics should remain detached from social business in order to get accurate answers. They must concentrate on the boring aspects of the business like legal or accounting implications.

He admitted that it was necessary to facilitate the smooth running of social business so it can develop to be an industry.

He thus urged academics to concentrate more on the part that people don’t want or don’t have the capacity to think about including anticipating problems that may arise in the current system. So a solution needed to be devised to prevent any collision between social business and the current economic system.

Present at the first day of the conference was Director of CESMED, Prof Dr Fauzi Mohd Jani, Managing Director of Grameen Creative Lab, Micheal Brohm and participants from various countries.