The DLSU Center for Business Research and Development: A prophecy and a renaissance
By Susan Claire Agbayani and Denver Daradar
“I myself know nothing, except just a little, enough to extract an argument from another man who is wise and to receive it fairly.”
Socrates, in Theaetetus, 161b, by Plato
“Hail, children of Zeus, and give your song that excites desire.
Celebrate the holy race of immortals who are for always,
those born from Ge and starry Ouranos, and
from dark Night and those whom salty Pontos bore.
Tell how the gods and Gaia first came into being and
rivers and the boundless sea raging with swell and
the shining stars and wide Ouranos above…”
– Theogony, Lines 104-110, by Hesiod
Along Taft Avenue, near the edge of the City of Manila, there rises the white, iconic St. La Salle Hall of De La Salle University (DLSU). Its façade features four Corinthian columns at the center, flanked by graven posts with the same Corinthian-styled capitals. The images seem to hark back to the land of olives and the salty sea, when certain men met at the marketplace to ask the questions of life and death.
There was Socrates, whose inquiry into almost everything set into motion the entire mechanism of philosophy and research that since then has irrigated the history of Western civilization. Indeed, it was by asking questions that the species homo sapiens transited from ignorance to knowledge. And it was by dialogue—by further inquiry and teaching—that this tradition of learning continues.
Behind this Hall, about a stone’s throw away, quietly sits the university’s Faculty Center. The more contemporary architecture once contained the University Library, a repository of static yet valuable knowledge. Today, it is home to many professors and lecturers, the living, dynamic vessels of knowledge. And on the second floor, tucked away in a little corner, is the office of the DLSU Center for Business Research and Development (CBRD), the research and advocacy arm of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business (RVRCOB).
This little office is envisioned to be the mouthpiece of inquiry in the modern marketplace. This little office is tasked to ask questions that can advance research – to extract more data and argument from the participants of 21st Century business – and thereby bring in new knowledge, new insight, and hopefully new wisdom to RVRCOB, to its faculty, students, and alumni, to the local business scene, and to the world.
While the temples of Corinth are more than 2,000 years old and nothing remains but dust and rubble, CBRD traces its history to only 21 years ago. As if coming of age, it leaves behind a colorful past marked by the birth and growing pains of a child of prophecy. Every director, like a Delphic Oracle, presaged a destiny for the center. There were halcyon days, there were stormy ones.
And this is its story.
An age of Titans
“First of all Chaos … came into being. But then
Gaia broad-chested, always the unshakable seat of all
the immortals who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus,
and dark Tartaros in the recesses of the wide-wayed earth,
and Eros, the most beautiful among the immortal gods,
loosener of limbs, who subdues the mind and prudent counsel
in the chests of all gods and of all men.”
– Theogony, Lines 116-122, by Hesiod
At the dawn of creation there was chaos. So spoke the ancient Greeks through the hand of Hesiod, among others. One might hypothesize that these ancient Achaeans embraced the worldview that at the beginning of all things, as in many things, there is rarely order, mostly confusion. Indeed, if through the Grecian looking-glass this was how the world and the Titans came to be, it should come as no surprise that looking past the halls of De La Salle University, Manila, the rise of CBRD was no different.
Although 1996 was not in a state of primordial chaos, it was a historic year for mankind. That year was marked by the birth of Dolly, the sheep. She was the first mammal to be successfully cloned from an adult cell. The Nintendo 64 (N64) was Time Magazine’s Machine of the Year. It was destined to be the last home console video game system in cartridge storage format.
Ebay was born in 1996; Japan launched the digital video disc (DVD) format; and for the first time, global count for internet usage exceeded 10 million. The Philippines, under the presidency of Fidel V. Ramos, hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit for the very first time. The Economics and Newsbreak referred to the country then as “the newest economic tiger.”
It was in this macro-environmental context that DLSU’s College of Business and Economics (CBE) gave birth to the Center for Business and Economic Research and Development (CBERD).
The darkness of the night could very well describe the research climate of the CBE. The dean then, Dr. Tereso Tullao Jr., recalled, “When I became dean, a few members of the faculty had doctorates and were qualified to do research. Even [with a faculty roster] with master’s degrees, among the colleges in the university, Business and Economics ranked the lowest in terms of production. But even if these people had no previous experience in research, the administrators knew they could be engaged through proper tutoring, mentoring, and incentives.”
This observation was echoed by the first CBERD Director, Dr. Divina Macalinao Edralin. “When I became the director, it was a bit hard for faculty to participate in research, because they preferred to teach rather than go out and gather data. It was only the junior faculty at that time who were really interested in doing research.” While the zeal of the faculty for teaching was unquestionable, the center faced the challenge of encouraging research activity among the teachers.
Indeed, Edralin initiated the journey out of this darkness. More than just christening the center and giving its name, and beyond continuing to offer training programs on research and capacity-building for faculty members (especially in the areas of research), she began the work of seeking external research funding – sometimes going solo; other times working with other units in the university.
Starting small, the Center, led by its Director Edralin, with the support of CBE Dean Tullao, embarked on a number of initiatives to promote research and publication.
Among these were the Notes on Business Education, a publication that featured the lessons or lecture notes and research output or findings of business faculty. Nine volumes of the publication, covering topics and issues that helped high school teachers and college professors all over the country, enhanced the teaching of Economics and Business. Subjects covered included Accountancy, Advertising, Business Management, Entrepreneurship, Finance, and Marketing.
Beginning 1998, still under the leadership of Edralin, CBERD launched the CBE Working Paper Series, which was later renamed CBERD Working Paper Series. It allowed writers to gather opinions, comments, and suggestions on their findings and ideas, before these were published in peer-reviewed academic journals. CBERD also subsequently released a Filipino-language newsletter Negosyanteng Pinoy, which taught readers how to start business ventures, and how to become effective entrepreneurs. It published articles on raising capital, cooperatives, legal obligations, business ethics, rate of return of employment, and analyses of economic indicators of the country.
By the early 2000s, CBERD was already embarking on a series of in-depth industry profiles for priority sectors. In March 2000, the Center initiated The Development of a Philippine Program for the Promotion of Services, funded by the Philippine Exporters’ Confederation, Inc. – Trade and Investment Policy Analysis and Advocacy Support (PHILEXPORT-TAPS). Among the industries covered by the project were Accounting and Finance, Animation, Architecture, Education, Engineering Services, Entertainment, Film, Furniture, Health Services, Hotels and Restaurants, Information Technology, Management Consulting, Pre-Need Services, and Printing and Publishing. Edralin also undertook two other studies that evaluated the footwear sector in Binan, Laguna and the fishing sector in Dumaguete.
During her stint as CBERD Director, Edralin led several cornerstone projects that further advanced the cause of the Center as a link between industry, government, academia, and civil society.
Worth noting are a series of studies on child labor that was funded by the National Union of Workers in the Hotel Restaurant and Allied Industries (NUWHRAIN) and the International Labour Office – International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (ILO-IPEC). These projects were translated into several publications and training manuals such as “At Your Service: Combating Child Labor in the Tourism Industry,” “Training Manual on Combating Child Labor in the Tourism Industry,” “In the Heat of the Night: Combating Child Labor in the Tourism Industry,” and “At Your Service: Mga Kwento ng mga Kabataang Manggagawa sa Industriya ng Turismo.” Edralin involved in these various projects several junior faculty members of CBE, one of whom would later become the Center’s director.
Towards the end of Edralin’s term, CBERD conducted an In-depth Study on College / University – Industry Linkages in the Philippines, a million-peso project funded by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). This brought the project’s research team to the various regions of the country. Edralin shared:
We undertook this externally-funded research on university-industry linkage for a year. We tried to find out from industries employing [our] graduates what their assessments were of the values, skills, and knowledge of the students, if these met expectations; and, problems they encountered regarding apprenticeship.
The results of this particular study proved valuable. While it surfaced the need for academic programs to be more relevant and responsive to the industries’ needs, it empowered the research team to make operational recommendations regarding apprenticeship, research and development, and consultancy.
By 2001, the leadership of CBE and its attached centers were changed. As if the era of Ouranos and Gaea had ended, the leadership of the college and of the center were transferred into the hands of a new order, that of the economists. Thus came Dr. Michael Alba, the new dean, who once quipped, “All over the world, it is the economists who make the business schools stand out… We did not have the research mindset in Business (yet).” Meanwhile, Dr. Winfred Villamil began heading CBERD, with a clear mandate to transform CBERD into a self-sufficient unit.
While Alba was at the helm of CBE for five years, Villamil headed CBERD for only a year. It was a productive one nonetheless, pushing through what was no less than a titanomachy of sorts.
The projects of CBERD at this time focused on providing faculty with research opportunities not just for personal intellectual growth, but for improved teaching capability as well. The Center facilitated the granting of funds to faculty members for research or materials development projects. Professional development programs were also offered to business organizations.
One year into Alba’s leadership, Dr. Myrna Austria assumed the leadership of CBERD. During her time, the Center served as editor and clearing house of faculty articles that were intended for newspaper columns, including Business Focus of Manila Bulletin. The CBERD Working Paper Series, which had been launched during the Center’s early years, were now made available online.
During Austria’s term of office, CBERD embarked on Phase 2 of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)-funded Private Enterprise Accelerated Resource Linkages (PEARL 2) Project. CBERD was especially chosen for its “capability and resources for research, data analysis and storage, and related activities” that were needed for the State of the Sector reports and the Market Intelligence System (MKIS).
The sector reports covered market, production, and value chain analyses of sectors supported by PEARL. These sectors included fine and costume jewelry, digital animation, furniture and houseware, holiday décor, leather goods and footwear, medical transcription, organic and natural products, and software development. The MKIS, on the other hand, gathered, stored and processed data on markets and marketing, which could be used by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for market strategy formulation and planning. Much of its initial data were sourced from the Internet and appended by specialized publications or collaterals on specific markets or products.
PEARL 2 published the reports and distributed these to project beneficiaries, partners, the government, and the academe, among others. The project reached its denouement in August 2007.
CIDA supported another study, the Development of a Curriculum and Training Methodologies for Financial Management of the Philippines. This project aimed at crafting a suitable curriculum, training module, and training methodology for upgrading the capabilities of partner organizations, particularly in the areas of financial management and control.
The Center also embarked on a study to evaluate the magnitude of external migration, and to measure the impact of international migration at the household, community, and national levels. The study also explored the impact of international labor migration in easing the unemployment problem. This study, The Economic Impacts of International Migration: A Case Study of the Philippines, was funded by the East Asian Development Network (EADN).
In March 2005, CBERD organized a Business and Economics Conference and Exhibit. Spearheaded by both Alba and Austria, the conference was conceived to be the first coming-of-age event of the Center. Around 600 participants listened to presentations made by academic experts and business practitioners. Its banner theme, “Emerging Issues in Business and Economic Governance” proposed to participants not only the need for new mechanisms in the new economy, but also the subtle truth that CBE and CBERD were at the forefront of change and development in business, management, and economics.
Without a doubt, the work of the preceding Titans of CBERD helped pave the way for the wave of externally-funded, industry-linked studies and projects. CBERD had risen from the darkness of Chaos-nested Erebus, into a whole new world of research, training, and industry engagements.
Then, in 2006, Austria assumed the reins of CBE. After an arduous search for her replacement, she and the university found one in the person of Dr. Tullao — the same individual who, as Dean of CBE, initially organized CBERD with then Director Edralin.
During his first year as Director, Tullao conducted studies on economic integration, cross-border capital flows, human resource movement, and regulation and policy formulation. These projects, mainly for ASEAN, added to the growing luster and prominence of CBERD as a research organization.
Enhancing the Movement of Natural Persons in the ASEAN Region: Opportunities and Constraints was one of these studies. It highlighted two main avenues for the movement of human resources across the region: the perspectives of trade negotiation and the labor market. This project was initiated and completed under the auspices of UNESCAP’s Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade (ARTNet).
Another study conducted by Tullao and a team of Economics faculty members was The Impact of Temporary Labor Migration on the Demand for Education: Implications on the Human Resource Development in the Philippines, which was commissioned by the East Asian Development Network (EADN).
Another major project under the directorship of Tullao include Financial Conglomeration in the East Asian Region: Recent Trends and Implications for Financial Market Development, which was supported by the ASEAN Secretariat, the International Bureau Ministry of Finance of Japan, and the Korea Ministry of Finance and Economics. The CBERD team, composed of faculty members from the Economics and Financial Management departments of DLSU, worked in close collaboration with Dr. Jae-Ha Park, team leader of the study and Senior Research Fellow of the Korea Institute of Finance (KIF).
The ASEAN Secretariat also provided financial support for the project titled “Market Infrastructure, Supervisory Structure and Regulatory Framework for the Supervision of Financial Markets: A Comparative Perspective from ASEAN 6 + 3 Economies’ Experiences,” which was led by Financial Management faculty member Neriza Delfino. This, and a number of other ASEAN-related researches, served as inputs to the ASEAN Finance Ministers’ agenda to push for greater financial integration as well as to construct means to arrest financial crises that may arise as a result of financial conglomeration.
During this period, CBERD also did projects for Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), Philippine Pacific Cooperation Committee (PPECC), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Standard Chartered Bank, Southeast Asian Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) and the Rockefeller Foundation.
While serving his term as CBERD Director, Tullao also served as editor-in-chief of the DLSU Business and Economic Review (from July 2008 onwards). Under his watch, the publication was listed in SciVerse Scopus and accredited by CHED as “one of the most distinguished Philippine journals.” According to Tullao, DLSU Business and Economic Review “has become an international journal with its advisory board of editors coming from some of the most prestigious universities in the U.S.A. and the Asia Pacific region.” It has also been receiving contributions and publishing articles from different universities in the Philippines and abroad.
“Thus Zeus spoke, and blameless Kottos answered him:
‘Strange one, you do not reveal what is unknown, but we
ourselves know that your mind is superior and your purpose,
and you are the defender for the immortals against icy cold
harm, and by your advice from the gloomy darkness
and harsh chains we have come back again,
lord son of Kronos, having suffered the unexpected.
Now with stubborn mind and ready spirit,
we will defend your power in dread battle-strife,
fighting against the Titans in strong encounters.’”
– Theogony, Lines 654-663, by Hesiod
In 1999, the Angelo King Foundation bestowed a multi-million endowment on DLSU. This endowment led to the creation of the Angelo King Institute for Economic and Business Studies (DLSU-AKI), with DLSU providing counterpart funding. DLSU-AKI was autonomous. Its Executive Director Dr. Ponciano S. Intal Jr. reported directly to the institute’s own Board of Trustees.
When Austria became CBE Dean in 2006, AKI was reorganized and attached to the CBE. However, the University had a standing policy that each college shall have one and only one research center. Thus CBERD and AKI were merged and named the Angelo King Institute for Business and Economic Research and Development (AKIBERD) in 2008. Under this set-up, the AKI team focused on generating externally funded projects, while CBERD concentrated on internal projects.
But that time after the merger proved to be a challenging one. “Both centers were under one executive director, but in practice, they were still doing the same thing, still operating as they were,” recalls Dr. Raymund B. Habaradas, one time deputy executive director of AKI, and current director of the Center for Business Research and Development (CBRD).
The merger and the division of labor was aimed at fulfilling a key purpose. In its 2009-2010 annual report, the Institute declared that:
The corporate vision of AKIBERD merged its founding institutions’ drive for research excellence, policy relevance, and overriding concern for poverty alleviation. The establishment of the Institute was a response to the challenging times when many of the issues that the country and the world faced required the deepening and enrichment of macro and national level perspectives with insights from research undertaken at the level of individual firms.
Villamil took over the reins of CBERD-turned-AKIBERD towards the end of 2007. Reporting to Villamil then were Dr. Pons Intal, who continued to handle the ongoing multi-year projects of DLSU-AKI; Dr. Gerardo Largoza, who handled the activities of CBERD; and Habaradas, who was tasked to rebuild the college’s professional development unit (formerly the DLSU Professional School’s Professional Development Center), which eventually spun off as the Center for Professional Development in Business and Economics (CPDBE).
Villamil’s return served the research center well. The DLSU Business and Economics Review was reorganized and strengthened. Linkages with the World Bank, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), existing partners of DLSU-AKI, were improved.
AKI’s traditional Young Economists’ Convention was carried under the AKIBERD banner in academic year 2009-2010. This forum had always been organized for Economics students across the archipelago and the ASEAN region to discuss relevant issues with prominent economists and lawmakers.
During this time, AKIBERD also launched the Lecture Series on Poverty Research, and hosted the Symposium on Climate Change, which tackled the realities of the effects of climate change in Southeast Asia.
The underlying contrasts of differing research cultures, priorities, resources, and programs of the erstwhile AKI and CBERD came to a head. These, compounded by the strategic intent to create focused units for the University’s economics programs and business programs, accelerated the titanomachy.
A year before the University began its celebration of 100 years of Lasallian presence in the Philippines, CBE dissolved and from its ashes, like two phoenixes rising, the College of Business (COB) and the School of Economics (SOE) were born. With this spin-off came the split of the merged AKIBERD even before it could take off; with the Center for Business Research and Development (CBRD) resting in the arms of COB, and AKI finding its home in SOE. CPDBE, which was later renamed CPDB, became a separate center under COB.
In 2011, the College of Business was rechristened the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business (RVRCOB), in honor of a distinguished La Salle alumnus who is also acknowledged as one of the founding fathers of Philippine industry.
This new age, this allegorical Age of Olympus, found Dr. Brian Gozun at the reins of RVRCOB, and Dr. Roderick Bugador leading the adolescent CBRD.
The Age of Olympus
“Zeus, king of gods, made Metis his first wife,
most knowledgeable of gods and immortal men.
But when she was about to bear Athena of gleaming eyes,
then by a cunning he deceived her mind
with coaxing words and put her down into his womb,
in accord with the advice of Gaia and starry Ouranos.
Thus they told him in order that the kingly province
no other of the gods who are for always might hold instead of Zeus.
For it was fated that from her would be born
thoughtful children. First, a maiden, gleaming-eyed
Tritogeneia who has might and keen plans equal to her father.
Then Metis was going to bear a son to be
king of gods and men, having a very forceful heart.
But Zeus sent her down into his womb before then
so that the goddess might advise him on good and evil.”
– Theogony, Lines 886-900 (the conclusion), by Hesiod
The Center, as we know it today, adopted its current name in 2010. Dr. Roderick Bugador, its first director, envisioned CBRD to be the research center that “would bridge the faculty with the broader global research community, especially professional academics in their areas of expertise.” His was a pioneering vision that grew deeper roots in the DNA of the center. The areas of focus were “business education, entrepreneurship, and administrative policy.”
Bugador’s watch was a period of transition. His time was a period for laying foundations. RVRCOB faculty members were informed of, and were encouraged to participate in, local and international conferences. Incentives were developed and provided, to concretize the support.
By 2011, the environment surrounding CBRD became even more conducive for research. The University Research Coordination Office (URCO) was given a fresh mandate to embark on more aggressive campaigns to encourage the University’s faculty members and research fellows to churn out path-breaking research projects.
During Centennial academic year 2011-2012, Vice Chancellor for Research Dr. Arnulfo Azcarraga facilitated the formulation of a new research agenda for the University that listed five priority research areas: food, nutrition and health; women, children and family; sustainability, environment and energy; living and contemporary societies; and, learners and learning innovations.
It was this same year – 2011 – that saw CBRD’s new director in Dr. Aida Licaros Velasco, an engineer. While the stage was being set for advancing the cause of research within the university, notwithstanding the intensity of the Centennial celebrations, Velasco led CBRD as it spread its newly-christened wings. The groundwork had been, and was continuously being laid.
With Velasco at the helm, the center embarked on the Consultancy-Based Learning for ASEAN SMEs (COBLAS). COBLAS was part of the ASEAN Common Curriculum for Entrepreneurship that was jumpstarted in 2010 by the Asia Science and Education for Economic Development Institute (AsiaSEED). This was in collaboration with universities from the region, supported by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund.
CBRD was involved in the establishment of a common entrepreneurship curriculum in ASEAN. The program included an annual seminar where participants could share knowledge and information on entrepreneurship education, exchange ideas, build an ASEAN network, and apply the COBLAS approach. From July to October 2011, DLSU implemented in the Philippines a pilot run of this program, through CBRD.
The Center also co-organized and hosted the 9th Asian Network for Learning, Innovation, and Competency-building Systems (ASIALICS) International Conference, a two-day conference held at the Dusit Thani Hotel on 4 and 5 October 2011. It adopted for its theme, “Innovation and Appropriate Technology for the Development and Inclusive Growth of Asian SMEs.”
Chaired by Velasco, the conference saw the gathering of over 60 scholars from Bangladesh, Estonia, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. It was attended by government science and technology policymakers, technology policy and innovation management researchers, graduate students of innovation policies and management, academics, social scientists, and natural scientists.
CBRD’s co-organizers from within DLSU included RVRCOB, the School of Economics, and the DLSU Innovation and Technology Office. External partners included the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), Procter and Gamble Philippines, and the PHINMA Group of Companies. The international Scientific Committee and co-organizers hailed from China, Denmark, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The last of the major projects of CBRD under Velasco involved a team of RVRCOB faculty researchers that helped forge a vision and strategic roadmap for the Philippine chemical industry. The output was a short-term framework for the years 2012 to 2016, a mid-term roadmap for the period 2017 to 2022, and a long-range plan spanning 2022 to 2030. This project, funded by the Samahan sa Pilipinas ng mga Industriyang Kimika (SPIK), required the team to work closely with the chemical industry’s stakeholders: industry decision makers, government policy makers, faculty members, and researchers. The project was implemented from May 15 to August 31, 2012.
Were the lips of Bugador smeared with Olympian nectar and ambrosia, that he saw all these barely two years before their realization? Was it not he who first said that CBRD “would bridge the faculty with the broader global research community?” Did he not also say that the areas of focus would be “business education, entrepreneurship, and administrative policy?”
Under the leadership of Velasco, the prophecies appeared to be coming true. But she was no pawn to the fates. Like a sibyl, she too foretold that “CBRD can be a potent factor in the economic development of the country.”
In 2013, CBRD welcomed Dr. Raymund B. Habaradas as its new director. He was appointed during the academic year 2013-2014 under the RVRCOB deanship of Dr. Maria Andrea Santiago. He began his term by conducting consultation sessions with the various academic departments of RVRCOB. This led to the reformulation of CBRD’s research thrusts in light of RVRCOB’s commitment as signatory of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), an initiative supported by the UN Global Compact. He also invited the following individuals who comprised the Center’s first Board of Advisers: Dr. Jose Ramon Albert, Secretary-General of the National Statistical Coordination Board; MBA Professor and newspaper columnist Dr. Elfren Cruz; marketing guru Dr. Eduardo Roberto; and DLSU Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Dr. Raymond Girard Tan.
In academic year 2014-2015, the college acquired new leadership under Dean Dr. Ma. Luisa Delayco. Upon her recommendation, Habaradas was appointed as CBRD Director for another two years. [Note: Under the organizational set-up of the University, research directors report directly to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation (VCRI), but are appointed upon the recommendation of the college deans]. In 2016, when Dr. Brian Gozun returned as Dean of RVRCOB, Habaradas’ term as director was extended for another three (3) years. It was during this period that CBRD finally came of age.
The sun, set free by the first leaders of CBRD, had begun its arduous climb, and the gods-that-be eagerly, and patiently, watched as the center entered its own.
Reflecting on the initial challenges, Habaradas said, “We started in 2013 just to get CBRD known. We updated our official web site, and made our online presence felt through social media. To succeed in this endeavor, we had to post relevant content on a regular basis.” Habaradas explained how the Center revived the CBRD Working Paper Series by asking the college’s senior researchers to share their works-in-progress; and how it came up with DLSU Business Notes and Briefings, which featured research-based articles meant to ‘influence policy and practice’. He added: “To further increase the reach of our Facebook page and to encourage user engagement, we introduced the CBRD Infographic Series.” CBRD also regularly posted the weekly opinion columns managed by the DLSU Management and Organization Department – Green Light of Manila Standard, Managing for Society of Manila Times, and View from Taft of Businessworld – which featured articles written by RVRCOB faculty members and graduate students.
Partly due to its active online presence, CBRD began to receive inquiries about its research projects and about the services it offers. This eventually led to externally-funded projects, including those with an international component. “We began to get different requests to do projects from all over, from government, from private firms, and from other external funding agencies,” Habaradas said.
During Habaradas’ second year as director, CBRD started work on the wide-ranging “Vision 2020 and Beyond: Road Map of the Printing Industry of the Philippines.” Funded by the Philippine Center for Print Excellence Foundation (PCPEF), the project involved the conduct of five studies tackling various aspects of the Philippine printing industry. CBRD sought the feedback of key stakeholders in a series of roundtable discussions, and consequently drafted a road map to help the industry grow and become more competitive, in light of the ASEAN integration, and given the challenges posed by technological, sociocultural and environmental forces. The project culminated in a public presentation that was participated in by government, academia, and major players of the printing industry and its allied industries, including the leaders of the three rival industry associations.
The Center also embarked on “Assessment of Corporate Responses to Sustainability Imperatives,” a project funded by the Commission on Higher Education – Philippine Higher Education Research Network (CHED-PHERNet). The project, led by RVRCOB Dean Santiago, involved several studies examining various aspects of sustainability in corporations: (a) sustainability reporting, (b) corporate social initiatives and social enterprises, and (c) humanistic management practices of firms. Since one of the goals of the project was to develop research capability, senior faculty members with extensive research track records guided research teams that comprised of junior faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduate students completing their theses.
Habaradas’s goal of securing foreign-funded projects was soon realized. Interestingly, all three projects had an Australian connection.
The first project was Business Model Development and Evaluation (Business Analysis) Activity in El Nido, Palawan, a component of a larger World Bank-funded Capturing Coral Reef and Related Services (CCRES) Project. Managed by the University of Queensland (UQ), the CCRES Project aims to demonstrate how coastal communities in the developing world can sustainably capture the benefits of marine (i.e., coral reef, sea grass and mangrove) ecosystem services in a way that contributes to local economies without undermining the long-term health and economic value of the ecosystem. CCRES needed a local partner to help collect and analyze data, and evaluate how several key existing business sectors are structured and currently function within the local El Nido economy. Given the reputation of DLSU as a leading business school in the Philippines and banking on the track record of its research team led by Dr. Arnel Onesimo Uy, CBRD was able to bag the project.
The second project was Business model innovation: Assessing the value creation processes of selected government training / learning institutes in the Philippines, which was funded by the Philippines-Australia Human Resource and Organisation Development Facility (PAHRODF). The study, conducted by a team headed by Dr. Divina Edralin, sought to map out the current business models of the BSP Institute (BSPI), Civil Service Institute (CSI), the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), and the Local Government Academy (LGA), and to determine whether these agencies are creating value for their key stakeholders. After generating insights from the experiences of these four institutes, the research team developed a framework, consistent with the new public management (NPM) paradigm, which could guide other government agencies in determining the appropriate business model for their own training institutes.
The third project was the ASEAN Academic Partnerships for Small Business and ICT Knowledge Transfer, which is a multi-country collaboration among Victoria University (Australia), Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (Malaysia), De La Salle University (Philippines), and Mahidol University International College (Thailand). The project began with an intensive 5-day knowledge-transfer session held in Melbourne on March 13-17, 2017. This was followed by several one-day workshops hosted by the participating ASEAN universities in their respective countries. The local workshops, which were held on April 20 in Terengganu, on May 26 in Bangkok, and on June 23 in Manila, allowed the participating ASEAN academics to share the knowledge they gained from the intensive workshop in Australia to their local colleagues.
Funded by the Australia – ASEAN Council (AAC), the project aimed to promote cooperation between individuals and institutions in Australia and Southeast Asian countries to enhance learning, teaching, and research in areas of mutual interest, to broaden awareness and understanding in Australia and in ASEAN countries of each other’s culture, values, and traditions through increased people-to-people contact.
By the end of 2017, CBRD had conducted various research projects for local institutions, such as Bevtech, Inc., Carolina E. Go Marketing Consultancy Services, Inc., Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), TNT Philippines, Unilab Foundation, Inc., and Women’s Business Council Philippines (WBCP).
Over and above being a producer of knowledge, a research center is also tasked to disseminate knowledge, which ought to be shared. Prophecies do not remain in the throats of Delphic oracles. They must be declared so that the virtues of knowledge and their impact may be experienced, indeed for the common good and the glory of God.
Thus, under the leadership of Habaradas, RVRCOB and CBRD co-organized with the University of San Carlos (Cebu City) in 2013 the 1st National Business and Management Conference, which has now become an annual undertaking. CBRD subsequently co-organized the NBMC with San Beda College (Manila) in 2014; with St. Louis University (Baguio City) in 2015; with Ateneo de Davao University (Davao City) in 2016; and with Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (Naga City) in 2017.
Indeed, the NBMC has become a venue for faculty members and graduate students of Philippine business schools to share their scholarly research. It has provided opportunities for scholars to present their research proposals and outputs, and to elicit feedback to improve their scholarly work. A unique feature of the conference is the conduct of research capability-building sessions, usually facilitated by seasoned DLSU researchers, for conference participants. Habaradas added that:
The networking that takes place during conferences has opened up opportunities for research collaborations between and among institutions. Also, since the participants know that we, in La Salle, could provide research capability-building, we have been receiving, over the years, invitations to conduct training in various colleges and universities all over the country.
Aside from organizing the NBMC, RVRCOB and CBRD continued to organize several international conferences. Two years after hosting the 9th ASIALICS Conference, CBRD played a pivotal role in the 4th PRME Asia Regional Forum, which DLSU co-organized with the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and the Ateneo Graduate School of Business (AGSB). The theme of the Forum was “Sustainable Business for the Common Good: Developing Asia’s Leaders for Today and Tomorrow.” An important side event of the Regional Forum, which was held in November 2013, was the 4th PRME Asia Research Conference 2013 that solicited papers on socially responsible practices of Asian businesses.
Two years later, in February 2015, CBRD once again took an active role in organizing the 9th International Conference on Catholic Social Thought and Business Education, which was jointly hosted by DLSU, Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), and De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde (CSB). Other collaborating institutions were the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought of the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota; Marquette University, Wisconsin; and St John’s University, New York. The conference, co-chaired by DLSU management professor Dr. Benito Teehankee and Ryan Institute Director Dr. Michael Naughton, ran on the theme “Prosperity, Poverty and the Purpose of Business: Rediscovering Integral Human Development in the Catholic Social Tradition.” It attracted about 200 delegates, including professors of business, philosophy, and theology, from more than 20 countries.
CBRD’s knowledge dissemination activities also took the form of hosting several visiting researchers and professors. Mostly in partnership with the Management and Organization Department (MOD), CBRD organized lectures by the following: University of Dublin Trinity College professor and action research expert Dr. David Coghlan; University of Notre Dame professor and business ethics expert Rev. Oliver Williams; University of Manitoba professor and organization theorist Dr. Bruno Dyck; Australian National University professor and human resource management scholar Dr. Simon Lloyd Restubog; and University of South Australia lecturer and action science scholar Dr. Tim Rogers.
Habaradas’ term also saw the establishment of several sub-centers, which allowed CBRD to institutionalize its research and advocacy in the areas of responsible management education, humanistic management, sustainable business practices, corporate social responsibility, corporate governance, and social entrepreneurship. This is in keeping with DLSU’s mission “to be a leading learner-centered research university, bridging faith and scholarship in the service of society, especially the poor.” These sub-centers are the Business for Human Development Network (CBRD-BHDN) and the Social Enterprise Research Network (CBRD-SERN).
Specifically, CBRD-BHDN “conducts critical realist, interdisciplinary research infused with Catholic social principles” to understand the contexts and forces that influence business leaders in adopting more humanistic and socially responsible business practices. It conducts both conceptual and empirical research projects, including the development of multi-stakeholder models of business for educational and management development, case studies of humanistic and socially responsible managers and companies, and developments in multi-stakeholder corporate governance policies and practices.
Led by Dr. Benito Teehankee, CBRD-BHDN also conducts advocacy through business newspaper columns, dialogues and forums with business leaders, recognition programs, collaborative projects with business-oriented organizations, and policy advocacies with government agencies and legislative offices. The Network has active linkages with international groups pursuing organizational and management practices that support human flourishing such as the Action Research Collaborative and the Humanistic Management Network.
CBRD-SERN, on the other hand, “aims to harness the initiatives of researchers, faculty, students, and practitioners to form a network that advances social enterprise management and social entrepreneurship.” Under the guidance of Habaradas, CBRD-SERN has produced research and publications on challenges and strategies faced by Philippine social enterprises, and on social enterprise incubation and financing. It has also built a database of social enterprise case studies, and has produced practitioner- and student-friendly materials in the form of business notes, newspaper articles, and teaching cases.
Finally, CBRD has laid the foundations for a Case Center, which has been developing a pool of researchers and writers of teaching cases and teaching notes. Dr. Eduardo “Ned” Roberto played a key role in this endeavor. Over a period of several months, he guided several RVRCOB faculty members who wrote teaching cases derived from their research and from their class requirements. CBRD also entered into a partnership with the Asian Institute of Management – Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism (AIM-ALT-CFT), which conducted case writing workshops that resulted in the production of several teaching cases. These cases will be compiled into case books that could be used in business and management classes in Philippine universities and colleges.
The questions of a modern day Socrates, the dialogues of a 21st century Plato, the investigations and ruminations of a new Aristotle will no longer be lost in antiquity. Through its sub-centers, CBRD will truly be a knowledge destination, a new Delphi or Dodona.
“Given the invitations we receive, the citations of our publications and working papers, the major conferences we have organized, and the sub-centers we have created – I think, little by little – we have been able to establish our reputation as a center that could take on important research projects locally and internationally,” thus spoke Habaradas.
What CBRD has become is indeed the fruit of visionary leaders, institutional commitment, stakeholder participation, and divine intervention – all amid the vicissitudes that come with human dynamics and environmental forces. In Homeric fashion, Habaradas reflects:
In the past few years, we’ve established CBRD as a center that is distinct from the Angelo King Institute, and really different from the CBERD of the past. Given all the activities we are doing and have done, I can say that CBRD is now recognized as a research center comparable to other research centers under DLSU. We are coming of age.
Gone are the pains of birth. Gone are the days of titanomachies. Gone are the twilight hours of uncertainty and puberty. Indeed, CBRD has finally come into its own.