ULSB PhD student wins prestigious prize

Posted by pm357 at Sep 27, 2018 09:05 AM |
Lubica Mueller's academic paper on her research into Philippine coffee actor-network wins the Tony Beasley Award at BAM
ULSB PhD student wins prestigious prize

Lubica Mueller

Lubica Mueller, PhD Student at the University of Leicester School of Business (ULSB), has been presented with the Tony Beasley Award at the annual British Academy of Management (BAM) Doctoral Symposium held at Bristol Business School, University of the West of England on Monday 3 September 2018. Her work on the Philippine coffee industry saw her beat fellow PhD students from across the country to take home the award.

The Tony Beasley Doctoral Award is presented in memory of former doctoral student Tony Beasley who served on the Council of the British Academy of Management. The award is designed to recognise outstanding doctoral research in the form of a high quality academic paper presented to the annual BAM conference. The European Management Journal kindly sponsored the Tony Beasley Award this year.

Lubica’s winning paper was called 'Agencing processes in the Philippine coffee actor-network.' It describes the basic concept of her current PhD research project. When Lubica moved to the Philippines four years ago, she came face-to-face with poverty on a daily basis and she wondered whether and how these people could be helped.

She explains further how this influenced her research and her paper: “I learned that Philippine coffee farmers belong to the poorest individuals in the country, primarily due to disadvantageous work relations in the supply chains of multinational corporations. Coffee farmers earn very little and lack technologies and capabilities; thus, their options to improve their socioeconomic situation are very limited.

“However, some coffee farming communities have recently started to work more closely with social entrepreneurs, development practitioners, government offices, technologies, fair trade certifications and other actors in order to develop their capabilities and to create new ways of engaging in coffee agribusiness. Through ethnography, I am exploring farmers' interactions with these actors, their responses to the capacitating strategies and the tensions they experience in their actor-network.”

She heard about the BAM conference from her PhD supervisors, Dr Winnie Onyas and Dr Matthew Higgins. They worked closely with her drafting her research proposal, which became the basis for the paper that she submitted.

Dr Higgins highlights why they suggested she submit her paper: “The PhD is an apprenticeship and this was Lubica’s first exposure to an academic conference. Our objective as supervisors was to support Lubica’s network building and to give her a taste of presenting to a high calibre audience. The prize was not part of the plan, but it is an excellent reflection of Lubica’s work and more broadly the calibre of research students ULSB regularly produces.”

Lubica attended both the conference and the Doctoral Symposium at the conference, allowing her to attend high quality development workshops, obtain impartial expert tailored advice on her research and the chance to network with peers and senior academics. She added: “I enjoyed networking with academics and editors as well as sharing with my peers the ups and downs of doing PhD, which is very helpful for distance learners like myself. I also attended several workshops devoted to the strategies to successful publishing - an activity that seems increasingly important for any PhD student.

“I did not realise that there will be awards given at the end of the Doctoral Symposium so the event happened to be a double surprise. Of course, I felt very happy about the award but I instantaneously thought to myself: "How am I going to carry this home?" I came only with a small backpack and the plaque was quite large - but no worries, at the end it all fitted in.”


Lubica is currently carrying out her research. She gets to meet the people, watch what they do, sense what they sense, listen to what they say and ask questions - in other words, to walk their journey of life with them for a while. This will be intertwined with writing chapters, reflecting on data, and reading more literature - a process that will go on in this type of research until she finishes her PhD thesis in the next two years.

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