Written by Kaitlyn Alkass
While most members of the Rollins community spent their fall term in Winter Park, one member was a little more southwest of campus—in Mexico. Dr. Mary Conway Dato-on, Associate Professor of the Crummer Graduate School, spent her days at the IPADE Business School in Mexico City, conducting research on social entrepreneurship. The J. William Foreign Scholarship Board (FSB), in conjunction with the U.S.-Mexico Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange (COMEXUS), awarded the accomplished Dr. Conway Dato-on with a Fulbright-Garcia Robles Award which allowed her to conduct research and forge a special partnership.
Teaching international business and marketing, Dr. Conway Dato-on is no novice when it comes to social entrepreneurship. “I was teaching social entrepreneurship before it was called social entrepreneurship,” says the professor. Her research question for her Fulbright scholarship digs a little deeper, attempting to explain the theoretical and managerial overlap of traditional and social entrepreneurship in the Mexican cultural context.
“Ultimately, we are looking for similarities and differences among social and traditional entrepreneurs in their personal motivations for becoming an entrepreneur. The focus on this includes specified social/ industry issue, the processes of going from an idea to establishing an organization, and the current state of the organization they lead in relation to the enablers and constraints that exist in the Mexican environment for the work they seek to do,” says the professor.
In addition to teaching a course at IPADE, Dr. Conway Dato-on spent the majority of her time on research. She engaged in establishing interview protocols, conducting interviews, and sharing ideas with others at IPADE.
“I hope to contribute to the academic and popular literature to make the work of the Mexican entrepreneurs known to more people. Ultimately, I hope we have theoretical contributions to the emerging field of social entrepreneurship and practical implications for current and future entrepreneurs.”
Dr. Conway Dato-on worked closely with Ashoka Mexico and Endeavor Mexico organizations and also presented three individual sessions on Nonprofit Marketing & Branding to IPADE Executive MBA students. Teaching at IPADE was a convenient fit for the professor, considering her second language is Spanish. Also fluent in Japanese and Tagalog, Conway Dato-On lead biannual global consulting projects by assisting student teams in solving real-world business issues. Allowing others to realize their potential, whether it be students or an entire country, seems to be a natural-born talent of the professor.
“Mexico, in particular, is full of potential, nascent, and experienced social entrepreneurs who are doing tremendous work in all fields. Little is published about them and I hope my work changes that a bit. We can learn much from how the social entrepreneurs in Mexico, and Latin America operate in resource constrained environments but accomplish great outcomes.”
Dr. Conway Dato-on has submitted two cases for publication, including one for a competition at Michigan State University that focuses on “green branding” as well as business models crafted to decrease poverty. In addition, she presented her research at the Ashoka Exchange at Brown University in February of 2014.