Guest article by Lerzan Aksoy, Christopher Lovelock Career Contributions Award Recipient 2022.

I am humbled and honored to be named the 29th recipient of the Christopher Lovelock Career Contributions Award. As I have always associated it with the luminaries in our wonderful discipline, it is surreal to be included among them. It is important to note, however, that despite this being recognition for my career accomplishments to date, I have no intention of stopping. I believe that there is so much that we as service researchers can do that will make a positive lasting difference in our world that I am energized by the thought what the future holds.

As I reflect on my career, I am especially grateful that the service discipline has been so warm and welcoming to me. I will always be indebted to the many people who gave me a chance to prove myself.  It is something that believe strongly is the ethos of service, and as such it is essential for it to continue as it manifests what we stand for as a discipline. However, the field has grown tremendously over the twenty plus years I have been a part of it, which raises the potential that not everyone who wants to a be a service researcher will feel as welcome as I have. Therefore, I would ask that those of us who have found success in this great discipline provide opportunities to new researchers so that they have the chance to prove themselves and to learn from our experience. But the flow of learning isn’t one way. The fresh perspectives from new researchers to the field are exactly what we need to remain relevant and vibrant.

Service Is Not an Ivory Tower

Ours is a practical science. We exist to improve the science and practice of management. But if we are to move our ideas from publication to practice, we must find ways to demonstrate the power of transformative service so that there is conclusive evidence to the leaders of today that there is a better way.

This requires that we recognize that CEOs often don’t look to our research to help guide their decisions. To be clear, they should! But the reality is that they have countless issues demanding their attention. They also have many polished, easy-to-understand, often wrong management fads offering solutions to their most vexing problems. It’s difficult for our frequently complex truths to compete with that.

But that is precisely what we must do. It has led me to learn to write and publish for managers through books, management journals, and trade publications. It has led me work in curriculum development so that the future leaders we are educating will be inspired by service principles and will use them when it is there turn to lead. It has led me to serve as Managing Director of the Responsible Business Coalition at Fordham, which unites educators, executives, researchers, nonprofits, and students around the idea that responsible business practices can drive business value and profitability. And it has led me to serve as interim dean so that I can have an influence in educating compassionate global business leaders of tomorrow who will make a positive, lasting difference in this world. 

We Thrive on New Ideas

These things demanded that I learn new skills. They pushed me out of my comfort zone. They weren’t easy.

As I think about my journey as a researcher, I would say the same things: new skills needed, uncomfortable, and not easy. But that is what is means to be a service researcher. We thrive on new ideas, on seeing the world in a different way, and hopefully in making this new view of the world the dominant view.

This brings me back to where I started. It is the fresh perspectives of our new researchers that ensure the long-term vitality of our discipline, which makes it the obligation of those who have found success in our wonderful discipline to let them know that they are welcome. 

Lerzan Aksoy
Professor of Marketing
Fordham University