Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Re-imagining Business Models for Greater Social Impact


The world is looking for business to step up—now—and address profound social and environmental issues at local and global scales. The essential connections between current business models and climate change, inequality, and many other significant problems is clear, and demand from customers, employees, stakeholders, and communities at large is forceful. But businesses are failing to demonstrate intent and results. Even attempts at innovative, circular, open, collaborative, and sustainable models are not delivering the value they promise.

How can we rethink our models and systems so that business can play, and be recognized for playing, an influential role in addressing profound social and environmental issues and restoring public trust?

In this talk, Melea Press explores the factors that prevent business from creating positive social and environmental value across ecosystems. She outlines an innovative approach to new business models that has the potential to deliver positive impact to individuals, groups and communities, and create valuable space for innovation, employment and capacity building.


HeadshotMelea Press, PhD, is Associate Professor of Marketing and Associate Director of Connections with Practice at the Adam Smith Business School at the University of Glasgow. She serves as Associate Editor of the journal Sustainable Accounting, Management, and Public Policy, and is a Trustee of HIV Scotland and a Co-Catalyser of Unstitution, a global Fair Shares Commons Social Enterprise dedicated to ‘Re-booting society’s operating system.’ Melea’s goal is to co-create just systems that allow all individuals to thrive. Her research on business models, market systems, and sustainability strategies in the US, sub-Saharan Africa, and Scotland, and has been published in leading international journals, including Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research, Academy of Marketing Sciences Review and Journal of Public Policy and Marketing.

Related Reading

Sustainability Initiatives Succeed with Good Storytelling, Melea Press

Ethnography Taught Me to Fight Climate Change. But to Have Impact at Scale, Ethnography too Must Change, Mel Gregg

Toward Donut-Centered Design: A Design Research Toolkit for the 21st Century, Christopher Golias

Corporate Care Re-imagined: Farms to Firms to Families, Jan English-Lueck & Miriam Avery Lueck

Video Resources

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Integrating Sustainability Perspectives in Ethnographic Work (tutorial), Mike Youngblood

Human Action and the Dynamic Environment (panel discussion), Elizabeth Churchill et al

Racist by Design—Why We Need a New Economic System for the 21st Century (keynote), Carolyn Rouse

On AI Natives and the Business of AI (keynote), Ashwini Asokan

Human Sciences & Value Creation (tutorial), Johannes Suikkanen

Post–Human-Centered Design: Working Responsibly at Scale (tutorial), John Payne


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