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Posted February 8, 2011


Can We Talk? Carleton Professor Michel Rod Honoured With 2011 Research Achievement Award

Ottawa – Talk, talk, talk. That’s the focus of Michel Rod’s next research project at Carleton University as he explores the different ways that university, industry and government people talk about their collaborative efforts.

Rod, an associate professor with the Sprott School of Business, is one of 10 Carleton professors to be honoured with a Carleton University 2011 Research Achievement Award. The awards honour faculty for innovative research that helps solve real-world problems. The other winners are being announced during Carleton’s Research Days celebration that runs until Feb. 11.

“Inter-organizational collaboration can be difficult at the best of times,” says Rod. “When you factor in three different and extremely complex sectors such as universities, industry and government, it is essential to understand how they use language to position what they hope to achieve through their collaborations with each other. By analyzing this language, we can see how they are talking about their motives, the challenges they face and their indicators of success, which they feel would not be possible without the participation of all three sectors.”

Nine years ago, when Rod completed an in-depth study of one multi-sector collaborative initiative among 13 pharmaceutical companies, government and university partners for his PhD thesis, he discovered that a key issue was the use of language by the various participants in his study.

“In the case of multi-sector collaborative ventures, representatives on the various boards of directors are accustomed to different organizational cultures, terminologies and management philosophies,” points out Rod. “So when people from different sectors are interacting with one another, their talk can be very telling in terms of the repertoires they draw upon in framing what they want to achieve and how to achieve.”

Rod will use an approach called discourse analysis that will help him deconstruct how various participants from the three sectors are speaking about collaborative efforts and how this discourse might be influencing how the collaboration is working and possibly how it could be conducted differently to lead to better collaboration.

“This research will provide insight as to how best to initiate and then manage complex inter-organizational collaboration efforts on an ongoing basis,” says Rod. “We can then update and broaden an existing collaboration framework in an effort to better guide those involved in these initiatives.”

Rod has taught a number of marketing courses in Canada, New Zealand, China, Iran and Vietnam.

He has also looked at the issue of service worker burnout to help companies either prevent it or decide how and when they can help their frontline employees. His findings are already being used by human resources departments of different organizations in New Zealand. In the future, he hopes to do some comparative research looking at frontline service worker burnout in the health-care and call centre fields in Canada.

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