Ivey Assistant Professor Wren Montgomery's research on water access and affordability – an issue that has heightened in importance during the pandemic – won the NBS-ONE Research Impact on Practice Award at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management.
The award, which is sponsored by the Network for Business Sustainability (NBS) and the Academy of Management’s Organizations and the Natural Environment (ONE) Division, recognizes peer-reviewed research on social or environmental sustainability that has important implications for practice. Montgomery and co-author Tina Dacin, a professor at Smith School of Business, won for their paper “Water Wars in Detroit: Custodianship and the Work of Institutional Renewal.”
Bringing water war injustices to light
The research looks at the impact of the Detroit water shutoffs, which began in 2014 and continue today. They have severely affected the city’s mostly poor and Black population. Montgomery said the implications are particularly apparent as Detroit emerges as a coronavirus hotspot and its cases are exacerbated by the lack of water.
“The pandemic has revealed many of the often unacknowledged injustices that have intersected in 2020: poverty, racial inequality, and lack of access to basic services like water and health care for vulnerable and marginalized communities,” she said. “But the research also looks at how everyday citizens coming together can start to reverse these issues and protect institutions that are under attack.”
Montgomery said she hopes the paper will expose these injustices and offer insights for collaboration and is pleased the work is being recognized for helping to solve the world’s challenges.
“This award is particularly important to me as it honours research that is seen by a panel of both academics and practitioners to have real-world impact and implications. I tried to do that throughout the project working with local grassroots groups, NGOs, politicians, and businesses,” she said.
Award for responsible research in management
In March, the paper also won the 2020 Responsible Research in Management Award, which recognizes research focused on important issues in business and society.
The project is part of a series of research from Montgomery on how emerging water crises, such as floods, drought, access, and affordability, are affecting the environment, society, and business.