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Jo Anna Russon

joanna russon

Research Fellow

Nottingham Business School

Staff Group(s)
Department of Management


Jo-Anna originally took up a role as Research Associate with the Responsible and Sustainable Business Lab (RSB Lab) in February 2017, but was promoted to the role of Research Fellow in May 2018.  Jo-Anna currently works with the RSB Lab team to develop funding streams, academic papers and impact-case research outputs on core projects related to values-driven business and values-driven leadership, particularly in an African context.

Jo-Anna also supports alumni within Nottingham Business School on various research projects which fall under the remit of the RSB Lab.  Projects to date include an empirical paper on the incorporation of Bloomberg in economics and finance teaching for undergraduates, and the development of an empirical paper on emerging forms of CSR among privately owned enterprises in China.

Finally, Jo-Anna also contributes to the broader research environment at NTU including MSc Supervision, tutoring on the online MBA Responsible Leadership module, and hosting international academics as part of NTU’s Global Responsibility Week.  Most recently Jo-Anna worked with Tee Dymond and Linda Gibson to establish the NTU Africa-Middle East Network, securing funding for the inaugural event in September 2018.  This event brought together staff from across NTU who are involved in or interested in research in this region.

Career overview

Jo-Anna Russon is a PhD graduate from Queens University Belfast, UK. Her research entitled 'Poverty Alleviation: The UK Government-MNC interface in Sub-Saharan Africa', reviewed the increasing emphasis within the UK's Department for International Development on working with the private sector to deliver overseas aid.  The research raised concerns about the boundaries of DFID’s engagement with multinational corporations from a political-economy perspective, and highlighted the need for a clear policy framework for supporting, managing, and measuring the role of corporations in the delivery of UK overseas aid.  After completing her PhD in 2015 Jo-Anna initially worked as a freelance researcher and teaching assistant before relocating to Nottinghamshire where she joined the RSB Lab in NTU.

Jo-Anna previously worked as a drug and alcohol counsellor and the manager of a voluntary sector drug and alcohol treatment centre.  It was in this latter role where she developed an interest in the relationship between business and society and the potential for strategic links between voluntary sector organisations and the private sector.  As a result she returned to higher education where she gained both an MSc and PhD in the field of sustainability and corporate responsibility. Throughout her career Jo-Anna has developed a keen interest in theory and practice on how government, academia, not-for-profit actors and local communities can work collaboratively to tackle poverty alleviation, particular in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Research areas

Jo-Anna’s primary research activities as a Research Fellow are:

Values-driven leadership in Africa and the REAL-Network:

The Values-driven leadership (VDL) programme is an executive leadership education programme which targets low and middle income (LMIC) economies.  The VDL programme in Africa brings together business, government and NGO leaders in a 3-day workshop designed to empower African leaders when confronted with systemic pressures to act unethically.  This is an experiential learning-oriented programme focusing on enabling ethical habituation instead of abstract ethical reasoning, and the application of Mary Gentile’s Giving Voice to Values (GVV) pedagogy.  In her capacity as the Research Fellow Jo-Anna work involves multiple elements including:

  • Coordinating   VDL programmes in Kenya, South Africa and Egypt;
  • Working   with a team of researchers coordinated by Prof. Mollie Painter on the   publication of research outputs linked to the VDL project, one of which is   under review, with two further papers in development.
  • Coordinating the   establishment of the Research on Ethical African Leadership Network (REAL-Network).  The REAL-Network was established in 2017   for VDL alumni in order to sustain and capture the impact of the VDL. Jo-Anna   manages this online community of academics and African leaders.
  • Producing   ongoing reports and documentation for the VDL-Africa Impact Case in   preparation for REF 2021.

Jo-Anna was successfully awarded funding to attend the GCRF RCUK Global Engagement Meeting in Kenya in January 2018.  Jo-Anna also coordinated the RSB Lab’s successful application for funding for the VDL project via the NTU GCRF QR funding allocation from Research England.

Sharing Vocabularies for Values-driven Business:

This originated as a UN Global Compact - PRME project addressing the diverse vocabularies used to label business functions related to values-driven business, such as Ethics; CSR; Compliance and Sustainability.  The resulted research project (led by Prof Mollie Painter) addresses the problem that diverse vocabularies related to Ethics; CSR; Compliance and Sustainability are used to label business functions responsible for values-driven business, resulting in confusion over their meaning and scope.  The project aims to build understanding and inform future decision making on how the functions are defined and managed.  To date Jo-Anna coordinated six university partners for the collection of empirical interview data; co-wrote a paper (published in the Journal of Business Ethics) and a practitioner summary which was published online.  A second paper is currently under review, and a book proposal is being developed.

DFID and the Big Four:

The ‘Big Four’ (KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and Deloitte) constitute an influential and specific part of the development consultancy industry.  A recent House of Commons Report referred to DFID’s relationship with development consultancy firms as one which is based on the procurement of poverty reduction.  Jo-Anna was recently awarded NTU Seedcorn funding to pursue research on the nature and efficacy of DFID’s relationship with private contractors and consultancy firms.  Jo-Anna is leading this project with academic partners at Cambridge University and the University of Sussex.

From performance to Impact in the age of Sustainability Goals

This project is led by Associate Prof. Wendy Chapple.  The purpose of the project is to understand how Impact (social, economic and environmental) is being framed in a multi-disciplinary arena.  Jo-Anna is supporting the first phase of this project which consists of a systematic literature review to identify what ‘impact conversations’ are taking place across disciplines, and the identification of the various impact definitions, characteristics and methods employed.  This conceptualisation of the impact space will lead to new insights for generating and capturing the impact of business, governments and non-profit actors in relation to the sustainable development goals.

External activity

Member of the Development Studies Association (DSA) and a convener for the DSA Business and Development Study Group.