Welcome once again to the "Inside the office" series where I interview the members of B2N team. My name is Edward Gerald Hingert and for this post, I talked with the PI of the B2N Research Project, Professor Johanna Kujala.
Edward: Hello Johanna, can you tell us about yourself?
Johanna: My name is Johanna Kujala and I am a Professor of Management and Organizations at the Tampere University, Faculty of Management and Business. I am also the Vice Dean for the Faculty and the Principal Investigator (PI) of the B2N Research Project funded by the Academy of Finland.
Edward: What is your responsibility as a PI for this project?
Johanna: I am responsible for the whole project. In projects funded by the Academy of Finland, the PI takes care that we achieve everything that was promised in the funding application. Directing the project is part of my job as a professor without additional compensation. In this project, I coordinate and bring researchers together to discuss topics as the whole project is a big collaborative effort. Although I feel that I am just another member of the team, when situations call for decisions, I am responsible for making them.
Edward: Please tell us more about your own research background.
Johanna: During my whole research career, since the beginning of 1990’s, I have been interested in responsibility and sustainability issues. When I started my research, the field was known for business ethics and corporate social responsibility. More recently, the focus has shifted to issues related to responsibility, sustainability and stakeholder engagement.
In the B2N Research Project, the collaboration with researchers from environmental politics has further put emphasis on the issues related to the natural environment and nature as a stakeholder. Actually, it was Senior Researcher Ari Jokinen who came up with the idea of studying business-nature interaction, and he contacted me and asked if I would like to plan a research project together with him. That is how the B2N Research Project and our collaboration started.
Edward: How has this project been treating you so far?
Johanna: Careerwise, having this kind of research projects is really important. However, what is even more important for me, is the opportunity to work in this great team and do interdisciplinary research while engaging with researchers from different disciplines. I have learned a lot and also enjoyed a lot when working with these people.
Edward: Since B2N is an interdisciplinary project, have you ever gotten into any ideological debate or conflict with researchers from other fields?
Johanna: Yes, we do sometimes. For example, a couple of months ago when we were planning the book that will be the final outcome of this project, we got into some intense and even disagreeing discussions. But as academics, we are not afraid of that kind of debate but rather enjoy them. However, usually we don’t have much disagreement because we are all experts in our own fields and we rely on each other regarding different aspects of the project.
Edward: Tell me about the most remarkable places the project had led you to?
Johanna: Last November, we went together to a conference in India and visited two restoration sites in the area. Especially the Aravalli Biodiversity Park was interesting and even touching for me. The differences in the air quality and the greenness between the park and other areas in New Delhi was amazing. And the site was a new discovery even for the people from the BIMTECH university organising the conference. During this spring, I visited some costal restoration sites in San Diego. I was travelling without the rest of our team, and I was very proud that I managed to find such an interesting place on my own.
Edward: As B2N project is coming close to its end, do you have any plan in mind for B2N 2.0?
Johanna: We are having another project on circular economy that started in the beginning of this year, that is the CICAT2025, (www.cicat.fi). Most of the B2N researchers are a part of that project, too. But who knows, maybe we will return to collaborate again in the future for the second B2N, or even on B4N project.
Edward: It was a great pleasure to gain insights about the B2N project from the PI herself. This project has been very profound and insightful for me, and I am looking forward to see what Johanna’s next projects will bring.