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Real-world impact

Isabel Brüggemann doing fieldwork in Indonesia.
Isabel Brüggemann in Indonesia for a research project in collaboration with Fauna & Flora International

At Cambridge Judge Business School, real-world impact is key. There might be different terms for it - meaningful research, deep engagement or policy research -  but what we are all after is to make a difference with our research. While some might argue that impact is for later, we believe that aiming for real-world impact starts right with the PhD and the research that inspires us! This philosophy drives our efforts to create active partnerships with organisations, be it for business, public sector or international development, addressing real-world challenges while at the same time ensuring rigorous and methodologically sound research.

As PhD students we are part of and seek to shape the debate around real-world impact, for instance with our recently initiated Impact Forum. See for yourself and explore what real-world impact can mean and how we aim to achieve it.

Isabel Brüggemann

Isabel is a PhD candidate in Organisational Theory at Cambridge Judge Business School working on topics around social innovation and institutional change. She seeks to understand how actors, who are operating in challenging institutional environments with limited power and resources, can introduce impactful social and environmental change. As part of her research, Isabel is studying the efforts of community enterprises in rural Indonesia to develop sustainable livelihoods and the initiatives of social entrepreneurs in Egypt to combat inequalities and make society more inclusive for minority groups. She is combining participatory observations during multiple visits to the field with in-depth interviews.

For instance, as part of a research project in collaboration with Fauna & Flora International (FFI), Isabel has travelled to Indonesia to observe the formation and development of two agricultural community-based enterprises in two rural villages in the West Kalimantan region. The aim of the project is to identify how FFI and the farmers of the villages can work together to increase the value of existing entrepreneurial activities in the region to the communities. Findings from this study contribute to research on outsider-driven change initiatives to facilitate international development. In Egypt, Isabel is studying how local entrepreneurs can legitimise their new social ventures in a restrictive legal, political and social environment and work together with established actors, such as corporations, to realise their goals.

Sytske Wijnsma

As part of her research, Sytske has developed partnerships with a number of key organisations. In collaboration with Europol, the European law enforcement agency, Sytske studied the incentives behind illegal waste disposal, which often results in health and environmental violations in developed and developing countries. Sytske helped disentangle the issues faced by the agency, structure them in a game-theoretic model, and demonstrate potential consequences of policy interventions. 

Sytske has also been involved with the UNEP-WCMC, the conservation unit of the UN Environment. She has researched how the impact of unsustainable practices and benefits of economic development are often distributed disproportionally within rural communities.

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