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The Academic Engine: Academic and BAM Practitioner Collaboration

by Mick Bates

Jim Collins, the late Peter Drucker and Michael Porter are near household names in the business world. What do they have in common? They are academics who have impacted the efficiency and effectiveness of organizations around the world. Yes, their work also influences BAM organizations, but what if there was a cadre of academics who focused on helping BAM companies be all they can be in transforming economies, being social change agents, bringing the gospel to a world in need and helping the planet?

Academics interested in BAM are out there, but the challenge at hand is to bring them together in a way that creates critical mass. You might say this sounds good, by why does it matter?

How Academics Add Value to BAM

Academics, just as those mentioned above, are uniquely positioned to add value to the BAM movement, specifically in the areas of research, practitioner support and student engagement. Their ability to apply disciplined research techniques to BAM problems gives reliable and valid data that goes beyond the “gut-feel” of the BAM practitioners to what is really happening in the BAM space. The broad perspectives and experiences of the BAM academic can bring effective training, best practices and education to BAMers and their constituencies thereby providing an immediate boost to business productivity and evangelism effectiveness. BAM academics, by virtue of their classrooms, are also principal seed-planters for the next generation of possible BAMers. It is the academic who generally drives the engagement of students with the concept of BAM, practitioners in the field, and doors to experiences with people groups around the world. The academic with an orientation toward BAM, can be a focal point for real-time added value. An academic network with collaborative partnerships with BAM practitioners can be a driver, an “engine,” if you like, for future impact.

Barriers to Entry

You might say this sounds great, but why have we not seen more academics involved in BAM? The challenge with any start-up or movement is often overcoming the barriers to entry. For the academic with a heart toward BAM, this is particularly relevant. For instance, the faith element of BAM causes friction for the business academic who has responsibilities to publish in their area of discipline. There are very few publishing outlets for business academics that recognize the role of faith in business success. Consequently, researching and writing about BAM may create limitations in the academic’s ability to be published. If the BAM movement wants more legitimate research, it must help in creating publishing opportunities for academics.

A somewhat related barrier is that much of the BAM activity is in areas of the world where security is a concern. This inhibits communication, the willingness of people to offer specific information, and the danger of publishing stories. This is becoming a bigger issue as social media makes it easier to “out” people doing BAM work.

Finally, the individualistic nature of the academic pulls against the need to come together, share and collaborate. These barriers seem formidable, but they also create opportunities.

Opportunities at Hand

Opportunity for the BAM movement and interested academics is encapsulated with the posture that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. God inspires and empowers individuals, but it is relationship in community that brings change. Getting BAM practitioners, academics and others working together is the opportunity at hand. This can occur in joint research and other collaboration activities, for example, engaging students in cross-institutional projects or trips, or faculty working together in consulting engagements to maximize value for the BAM practitioner. For instance, how cool would it be to have students and faculty from different institutions working together on a research or consulting project? Then, the faculty members could present their results together at a BAM conference or other academic forum. The BAM practitioner, students and academics achieve wins all around.

There are pockets of these types of academic collaborations occurring in isolated instances, but how can we catalyze these into beneficial community experiences? One way is to become involved in the BAM Academics network.

Invitation to Connect

BAM Academics is a group of higher education professionals dedicated to the promotion and support of the Business as Mission movement. The group accomplishes this in their daily activities in colleges and universities around the world with special emphasis on BAM-oriented research agendas and BAM practitioner support. The goal of the group is to foster closer ties between academics, to generate momentum in areas of common interest, and ultimately, to bring value to the global BAM movement.

Additionally, the Academics Track at the annual BAM Conference USA and the upcoming BAM Global Congress 2020 are an excellent way to meet, engage and collaborate. Not only do participants receive valuable information and new ideas, the relationships formed here often lead to unexpected scholarly, student engagement and consulting opportunities.

I invite BAM practitioners and others to connect with academics to share needs, hopes and desires as they relate to productivity, employment/internships and empowering the movement. You can start the conversation via email to academics@bamglobal.org where you will be connected with potential resources.

Request for Proposals

The BAM Global Congress will be held in Jomtien, Thailand from 29 April to 3 May 2020. It is anticipated there will be over 1,000 people from all over the world in attendance.

As part of Academics Track for the Congress, the BAM Academics network is soliciting proposals for presenting papers, briefings on academic work in support of BAM, or relevant discussion panels. Each session of 20-30 minutes will bring valuable information to academics, practitioners and supporters of BAM. To make a proposal for consideration, please follow this link, BAM Global Congress Proposal Submission, and enter the requested information no later than 31 December 2019. Offers to present will be made no later than 30 January 2020.

As you consider about how you might contribute to the BAM Academics track, I encourage you to think in terms of Boyer’s Scholarship Model that addresses the scholarship of Discovery, Integration, Application, and Teaching and Learning. This model provides more flexibility and value points for academics to contribute to BAM in a variety of ways. Regardless, if you have engaged with BAM in an “academic” way, please submit a proposal. We all learn from each other.

Whether you present or not, I encourage you to consider attending this important global conference. I guarantee you will come away with some new ideas, new friends and inspired. Finally, please do not hesitate to forward this information to likeminded people in academia and do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of service in any way.

Finally, the late Peter Drucker once posited that management was a liberal art, “’liberal’ because it deals with the fundamentals of knowledge, self-knowledge, wisdom and leadership: ‘art’ because it is also concerned with practice and application” (Drucker, 2001, p. 13). I believe we can extrapolate these thoughts to a similar recognition of BAM and its quadruple bottom-line by academia. I hope to see you at the BAM Global Congress in 2020.

 

Drucker, P. (2001). The essential Drucker. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

 

This month on The BAM Review blog, we are focusing on the four major constituencies within the BAM community: Business, Academia, Church and Agencies.

Join us at the BAM Global Congress, the ‘one stop shop’ for the global business as mission movement. The Congress is open to everyone interested and only happens every seven years, so don’t miss this chance to connect with BAM leaders from every continent! Find out more information about the Congress here.

 

 

The BAM Global Congress in April next year will reflect the four major constituencies of BAM, including:

  • An Academic Track
  • A Church Track
  • An Agency Track

Plus, Business topics and sub-tracks of all kinds:

  • BAM stories and cases
  • BAM planning and start-up
  • BAM operations
  • BAM incubation and investment
  • Practical integration of business and missional objectives
  • Industry-specific Roundtables
  • The application of BAM to tackling human trafficking and poverty
  • The application of BAM to taking the gospel to the unreached
  • And many more.


Mick Bates
has developed a passion for imbuing the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in others. He has spent the last 14 years in higher education, primarily as the Founding Program Chair and Associate Professor for Business Administration at Life Pacific College, and currently Associate Professor of Marketing at Taylor University. Prior to that, Mick spent 20 years in business in call center technology start-ups.

 

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Four Constituencies in the BAM Movement: Business and Beyond

It is stating the obvious to say that a major part of the international BAM community is made up of businesses and business people. This is business as mission. We see the great commission and the great commandment to love our neighbour fulfilled in the daily context of company life; lived out through business men and women faithfully sharing the love of Christ in word and deed. Businesses and business people are a core constituency of the BAM movement.

However, these companies and business people will not thrive outside of a healthy ecosystem made up of many types of individuals, skills, perspectives, and institutions. We will not reach a tipping point for macro impact through business as mission unless our business constituency is connected to and supported by a much broader network. Therefore, we see that the BAM global community is made up of four major constituencies; leaders from business, mission, church and academia.

BAM thought-leader Peter Shaukat expresses this same idea as the 4 As: 1

  • Academy: scholars and educational institutions
  • Agency: mission agencies, yes, but also other kinds of entities with specialist functions
  • Assembly: local churches and congregations
  • Actualizers: the business people who run business as mission enterprises

The Four Major Constituencies in the BAM Movement

 

At the same time, we are part of a broader movement of God’s people following Christ in many arenas. The BAM movement should also be more broadly connected to, and overlapping with, like-movements, such as ‘Justice as Mission’, ‘Education as Mission’, ‘Art as Mission’ and so on. Business as mission is not a “silver bullet” and we should see our place among those that the Lord is raising up in all spheres of society.  Read more

BAM Endurance: Principles and Habits for Long-term Fruitfulness

One of the foundations of business as mission is that the company must be profitable and sustainable – otherwise how can it be a business long-term? We know that making sales, maintaining cash-flow and reaching profitability are a non-negotiables for BAM company health. Commercial success is critical.

But what else besides commercial success is vital to the endurance of a BAM company – or indeed to the BAM practitioners who run it?

Endurance vs Attrition

Missionary attrition is a term adopted by ‘member care’ experts to describe missionaries quitting the field earlier than planned and the factors that contribute to that. There is much we can learn from the wider mission community about the causes and cures of stress and attrition, however, when you add a commercial operation into the mix, there is an added layer of complexity.

What are the stressors common to business as mission that wear down a company’s chances of long-term survival? What causes practitioners to give up and go home? What causes BAM attrition, and conversely, what helps BAMers endure? Read more

What is Success? Advancing Spiritual Impact in BAM: Best of BAM Blog

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with great content and resources. Each year we do a summer roundup of articles which have stood out in the past 6 months.

Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for January to June 2019.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Tom

It is easy to be confused by how success in business as mission (BAM) is defined today from a spiritual perspective.

Once-upon-a-time the core concept of BAM was to have a spiritual impact. The reality that a business needed to be profitable should also have been a given, after all, a business that does not make money can’t survive or, as we say in BAM, cannot be sustainable. Even with this relative simplicity, being able to measure spiritual impact seemed elusive.

Early definitions struggled between Business AS Mission and Business FOR Mission both of which held that a central purpose was spiritual transformation. Early theological debates centered around the secular-sacred divide, could business even be spiritual? There were common perceptions of money and profit, often portrayed as evil and exploitive among Christians, that needed to be overcome. Business AS Mission assumed that when operations aligned with spiritual values, businesses could and would produce spiritual results when driven by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Business FOR Mission simply used the profits of a business to support traditional missional activity.

Today the definition of BAM has expanded to include an emphasis on poverty alleviation and job creation etc., issues that are also popular in the secular social enterprise world. However, one danger we face is that while we are expanding, we might also lose what makes us distinctive, appearing to put less and less emphasis on spirituality or spiritual impact. Yet, without intentional spiritual impact BAM is not any different than any well-meaning secular program.

Twenty years on from the early days of the business as mission movement, we continue to wrestle with this topic of spiritual impact in BAM!  Read more

What is Success? Advancing Spiritual Impact in BAM

by Tom

It is easy to be confused by how success in business as mission (BAM) is defined today from a spiritual perspective.

Once-upon-a-time the core concept of BAM was to have a spiritual impact. The reality that a business needed to be profitable should also have been a given, after all, a business that does not make money can’t survive or, as we say in BAM, cannot be sustainable. Even with this relative simplicity, being able to measure spiritual impact seemed elusive.

Early definitions struggled between Business AS Mission and Business FOR Mission both of which held that a central purpose was spiritual transformation. Early theological debates centered around the secular-sacred divide, could business even be spiritual? There were common perceptions of money and profit, often portrayed as evil and exploitive among Christians, that needed to be overcome. Business AS Mission assumed that when operations aligned with spiritual values, businesses could and would produce spiritual results when driven by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Business FOR Mission simply used the profits of a business to support traditional missional activity.

Today the definition of BAM has expanded to include an emphasis on poverty alleviation and job creation etc., issues that are also popular in the secular social enterprise world. However, one danger we face is that while we are expanding, we might also lose what makes us distinctive, appearing to put less and less emphasis on spirituality or spiritual impact. Yet, without intentional spiritual impact BAM is not any different than any well-meaning secular program.

Twenty years on from the early days of the business as mission movement, we continue to wrestle with this topic of spiritual impact in BAM!  Read more

Procurement and Technology Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In this series of blog posts, we have been looking at Porter’s Value Chain Analysis as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we have also unpacked how the tool could be used as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this sixth and final part of the series, we continue to examine the support activities of the value chain, this time focusing on Procurement and Technology.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

Read more

Human Resource Management Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In this series of blog posts, we have been looking at Porter’s Value Chain Analysis as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we have also unpacked how the tool could be used as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this fifth part of the series, we continue to examine the support activities of the value chain, this time focusing on Human Resource Management.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

Read more

The Role of Business Leadership Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

This article picks up where we left off last year in the series on Value Chain Analysis Through a Spiritual Lens. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

As we continue examining the way the value chain analysis can be useful, we need to keep in mind that these activities do not operate in isolation or for their own purposes. The activities in one functional area impact other areas and must be coordinated to help the company achieve its overall strategic objectives.

For example, if a firm takes a differentiation strategy in which its products, services, brand and marketing messages are unique from its competitors, then every functional area must seek to add value to achieving that objective of uniqueness. A company like Apple spends significant money on R&D, quality components and exceptional advertising to set its products apart. Primary activities including inbound logistics (sourcing components), production (quality control processes), and sales and marketing (advertising) must all support this objective, as well as the support activities of procurement (spending the necessary money to ensure differentiation) and human resources management (hiring, training, evaluating and compensating the kind of employees who will maintain the standards of excellence needed).

Read more

Value Chain Analysis Through a Spiritual Lens: Introduction

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with great content and resources. As we start the new year, we are highlighting articles which have stood out in the past 6 months.

Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for July to December 2018.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Ross O’Brien

In his 1985 book Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, Michael Porter introduced the value chain analysis. Many business people are familiar with Porter’s Five Forces Framework as well as his three generic strategies. The five forces address industry-level issues that to a large degree shape the potential for a return on investment in any given industry. The generic strategies help business leaders select the appropriate strategy for operating within a given industry and market. Both are helpful tools in the strategy toolbox.

Many are not as familiar with the value chain analysis. This tool looks closely at each of the activities involved in a business to examine how each activity can add value to the company as it seeks to execute its strategy. These activities are divided into primary activities and support activities.

Primary activities are those in which employees are “hands on” with the product at any stage in its development or involved with the customer at any stage in the customer’s interaction with the company.

Support activities are those necessary for the business to carry out the primary activities.

It is important to see both primary and secondary activities as a whole system as well as component parts. In doing so, you can understand how a competitive advantage is only possible when the various activities operate in harmony, not in isolation. Below is an image showing each of these activities.

Read more

Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever: A Response

by Ross O’Brien

Like Mats Tunehag in his original article Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever, I hope that one day followers of Jesus whom God has gifted for business will naturally recognize their vocational call to the marketplace as a call to fulfill the missio Dei, the mission of God.

God’s purpose in the world is to redeem all creation from the effects of sin and restore all creation back into right relationship with himself. As followers of Jesus we have the blessed privilege and responsibility of co-working with God in this mission. I agree with much of what Mats say in this article and in general.

However, I question a few points, which reflects some of my own mental pilgrimage on BAM.

1. What’s in a Name?

Granted, I am an academic and we tend to try to define and describe everything, sometimes to an extreme. However, there is value in recognizing the unique similarities and differences in various phenomenon. The word “missions” for example means different things to different people. For some, going down the street witnessing to people who look a lot like us is referred to as missions. Serving food in a homeless shelter is also called missions. Going on a one-week mission trip a few states away is missions as is moving your family to a foreign country for a lifetime.  Read more