Daughters of Themis workshop 2017 on ‘Interdisciplinary work and transdisciplinary outcomes’

This year’s workshop delivered insightful and thought-provoking discussions on the challenges and opportunities with engaging in interdisciplinary research, spanning the use of multiple disciplines and methodologies as well as the strengths with creating partnerships with colleagues.

Photo: Beate Sjåfjell

Fourteen international female business scholars from Norway, Spain, Ireland, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, United States, Canada and Australia participated in the third annual workshop for Daughters of Themis: International Network of Female Business Scholars. The workshop took place in the island Kea, Greece, and lasted for a week.

Kea, Greece

The theme for the workshop was ‘Interdisciplinary work and transdisciplinary outcomes’ and the participants were selected based on their response to a call for papers. As the network has grown over the past year, this year’s call for papers was particularly competitive with a waiting list as long as the list of selected participants. Topics of the presented papers ranged from interdisciplinary research in law, sustainability in sovereign wealth funds, qualitative empirical case studies, to Marxist understanding of legal institutions.

Perspectives and interlinkages between interdisciplinary work and transdisciplinary outcomes

Aikaterini Argyrou, Doctoral Research Fellow at Nyenrode Business University and Ph.D candidate at Utrecht University was excited about the different perspectives among the other workshop participants. She explains:

‘What I found particularly interesting and that I will consider in my research are the constructive criticism against interdisciplinarity with sound arguments that Irene presented [Irene Lynch Fannon, University College Cork]. I will also consider the experience that Tory [Victoria Baumfield, Bond University] shared with us in her paper on the related scientific dangers with engaging in interdisciplinarity. At the same time, I will consider the solid arguments for the actual opportunities that interdisciplinarity offers that Tory, Roseanne [Roseanne Russell, Cardiff University] and myself discussed in our papers.

I will also substantially reflect on the role of trust in integrative research practices that May-Britt [May-Britt Ellingsen, Norut] presented. I was actually fascinated by the value of trust and how it can influence collaborative research and its outcomes particularly in supporting transdisciplinary outcomes. Fascinating also was how other disciplines, such as the political economy (presentation by Lorraine Talbot, University of York, UK) provide the researcher with a completely different conceptual view of the company that may lead to new theoretical insights - at least for us lawyers.’

These discussions were indeed fruitful and as they were all part of the paper presentations, these insights will be captured in the planned publication following the workshop.

Another participant, May-Britt Ellingsen, senior researcher at Norut in Norway shared Aikaterini’s excitement:

‘The Daughter of Themis workshop was an inspiring interdisciplinary meeting. As a social scientist, it was useful to get better insight into perspectives from law and economics. It was very fruitful to discuss a common topic with scholars from other scientific backgrounds; it opened and turned my mind to new directions and provided me with new knowledge. It was also very inspiring to get comments from other scientific perspectives on my paper.’  

May-Britt adds that there were some key take-home messages from the workshop that she thinks are important to highlight. She says that two main conclusions were that interdisciplinarity is essential (1) to understand the complex processes related to planetary boundaries and the critical state of our planet and (2) to be able to initiate the necessary changes. She continues with some reflections on the interdisciplinary collaboration process:

‘This demands inter- and transdisciplinary face-to-face discussions. Natural scientists describe the state of the planet, people create the problems and people have to act to create solutions. Social science and law are disciplines that work with social actions and how to regulate them and these disciplines have to take the lead in the debate about the future of the planet. The Daughter of Themis workshop is an excellent forum for that.’

Great value of a female business network

Workshop discussion
Workshop discussion

In addition to this year’s workshop’s fascinating outcome in terms of papers on forward-thinking interdisciplinary approaches, it has become clearer and clearer that the network of female business scholars is important in itself. It is a forum that allows for open-minded and free discussions, insightful and constructive feedback, during sessions as well as outside of sessions. As one participant observed, it is a ‘safe space’ in which ideas can be discussed openly, thoroughly and respectfully with the aim of supporting and encouraging each other in our work. In addition, the platform has enabled deepened companionship, mutual support, as well as compassionate and intellectually stimulating and challenging discussions, says founder and head of the network, Professor Beate Sjåfjell. She adds that she already looks forward to next year’s workshop and to see the network grow:

‘I would love to see the network grow even more international, including also female business scholars from the Global South.’

Plans ready for the 2018 workshop

At the network meeting on 2 June 2017 the Steering Committee of 2017-2018 was elected. In 2018, the workshop theme will be ‘Innovating business models for sustainability’, where members will work and present their conceptual and/or interdisciplinary different approaches and ideas of how this century’s business should be structured in the context of this century’s immense sustainability challenges.  Dr Carol Liao, PhD Candidate Aikaterini Argyrou and Professor Beate Sjåfjell will prepare a call for papers for the 2018 workshop.

Female business scholars who are interested in joining the network may fill in this online form. Any questions may be directed to Beate Sjåfjell.

Published Aug. 14, 2017 10:00 AM