An Academic Life Well Lived: Dr. Jerry Calton
July 23, 2019
Jerry Calton arrived at UH Hilo in 1986, which qualifies as the Neolithic (New Stone Age) period of academic endeavor in Hawaiʻi. At this time the School of Business & Economics was still a division within the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). However, the School proved adept at developing new stone tool technologies and quickly moved into the computer age. This innovative streak prompted the hiring (among others) of Professor Kelly Burke, who specialized in scaring students smart in his management of information systems and quantitative business analysis classes. Professor Calton provided a softer touch in his classes, consistent with his role as a “closet humanist” within the business program. He has a PhD in History (1970) from the University of Washington (teaching history at the University of Kentucky from 1970-1976. He earned a second doctorate in Management from the University of Washington in 1986, and taught management courses at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs from 1982-1986. Having spent so many years in institutions of higher learning, supplemented by a habit of reading widely and deeply across academic disciplines and political divides, he was once complimented by an admiring CoBE student via the question: “Who needs Google when we have Dr. Calton?” In his upper division Business & Society, International Management, and American Business History classes at UH Hilo, Jerry has encouraged students to explore the interface between business and its external cultural, social, and natural environments. This exploration has focused on finding ways business managers can garner profits for the firm while treating non-owner stakeholders fairly and respectfully as partners in creating mutual value. He regards his students as his primary stakeholders, as well as his friends.
Jerry’s teaching builds on his research interest in the potential of “multi-stakeholder learning dialogue” for coping with the paradoxical tensions inherent in jointly striving to reconcile or balance competing interests or claims (i.e., stakes) in the firm’s value-creating process. Since the mid-1990s, Jerry has published a number of book chapters and articles along these lines in top-tier refereed social issues and business ethics journals, such as Business & Society, Business Ethics Quarterly, the Journal of Business Ethics, and the Journal of Corporate Citizenship. In recent years, he has taken up issues of social entrepreneurship as a cooperative venue for building capacity for self-help at the base of the global development pyramid (where the poor get by on $1 a day) as well as ways to promote cross-sector (government, corporate and NGO) collaboration to help resolve global challenges to system sustainability. He is very proud of his most recent publication, a book chapter entitled “Getting from corporate social responsibility to corporate system responsibility: Toward a dialogic process of network governance.” It appeared in 2018 in a book series, Business & Society 360, put out by Emerald Publishing. It was positioned toward the end of the book in a section called “The Future of Corporate Social Responsibility.” Also recently, Jerry was invited to serve on the editorial board of the Journal of Business Ethics, the top- ranked business ethics journal in the world.
The above recognition suggests that Jerry has managed to establish a respected place in his research field, while serving his primary stakeholders, his students, wisely and well. For the past three years, he has offered a MGT 425 elective on Social Entrepreneurship Venture Planning. The focus is on student projects to identify unmet social or environmental needs on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi and to apply business methods informed by empathy and aloha to help our neighbors help themselves. Hopefully, this legacy of community outreach can be continued after Jerry retires at the end of Spring Semester, 2018. Meanwhile, Jerry plans to move with his wife, Sally, and her cat, Miss Wu, to an island in Puget Sound, north of Seattle, to pursue adventures in wood working, landscaping, gardening, and general hell-raising. His new stakeholders will be butterflies, bees, and humming birds. He will miss his friends and colleagues at UH Hilo and he hopes that the sentiment will be mutual.
See more news from 2019.