8/15/2011 - A new partnership between the Kellogg School and Abbott will help to build understanding of how businesses make customer-focused decisions when social and political risk is involved.
The Illinois-based healthcare company has given $750,000 to the school’s Ford Motor Company Center for Global Citizenship
to establish the Risk Research & Strategic Action Network. The network will investigate the role of business and its interaction with the social and political environment. Its objective is to address — through research and teaching — the challenges faced by corporations that have become the main agents of global, social and political change.
The center will focus on the economic, psychological and political factors that influence decisions around new products, services and activities where the impact is uncertain, said Jean Egmon, research assistant professor and director of the Ford Center Network.
Ronald Robison of Abbott is optimistic that the company’s investment will serve as a catalyst for additional support from others in the emerging field of risk-communication research. And, he adds, it will eventually help Abbott better communicate the benefits and risks of medication to patients and healthcare providers.
“Kellogg is uniquely qualified to host this initiative, given its extensive experience in leading complex collaborative research networks and its successful track record in attracting external funding to support such initiatives,” said Robison, vice president and head of regulatory affairs at the company’s pharmaceutical products group. “By drawing on Northwestern's rich and diverse scientific community as well as external experts, the network is well positioned to assemble a core network of outstanding researchers from diverse scientific disciplines to pursue a cutting-edge research agenda on risk communication methods and approaches.”
The Ford Center will lead and facilitate the engagement, growth, sustainability and impact of the network, including research, education, network recruitment and additional funding.
“There are many different angles that have already looked at risk perception and risk communication,” Egmon said. “We want to find out what’s already out that can be repurposed or used and translated in an applied way, and also learn where the gaps are for new research.”
As ideas emerge from this network, students and alumni can help translate those findings into concrete products, tools and events, Egmon added.
“This is one of many conversations and relationships that Kellogg has with Abbott,” she said. “It reflects the unique relationship between Kellogg and industry, and we’re appreciative of that.”