Adrian Lui works as a Council Coordinator for a global membership organization for the business community in Hong Kong. He tells us how his general sociological skills help him to work with businesses in order to strengthen their services.
What is your occupation?
My job title is Council Coordinator. My company is a non-profit, membership organisation that creates and disseminates knowledge about management and the market place to help businesses strengthen their performance and better serve society.
What type of work do you do?
I help my company to organise their councils. These are small, intimate, cross-industry networking peer groups that bring together executives specifically to share information and best practice. I handle the logistics of all council meetings and activities and assist the department head in researching opportunities for business development.
What type of working environment is this for a sociologist?
My department consists of an inter-disciplinary team but our job requires us to work individually on our own projects. Collaboration is limited to technical and administrative matters. My co-workers take a very pragmatic attitude towards work and life. Only immediate concerns are addressed. Sociology as well as any other social science and humanity subjects are regarded as ‘too remote’ or ‘irrelevant’. Applied sociology is understood mainly as an exercise for academia and research institutes.
How do you apply your sociological knowledge to your day to day work?
Because of the nature of the work and general atmosphere, only general skills and principles are used in my work. Sociological theories, concepts and methods serve mainly as a background analytical toolbox in dealing with issues like organisational bureaucracy and ’rational irrationality’ and avoiding individualising structural problems. However, understanding the situation doesn’t necessarily offer the power to make an immediate impact.
What are some of the benefits, rewards and successes of working in your field?
Because I don’t have autonomy in developing my own research, the benefits and rewards are limited to practical experience and first-hand knowledge for reflection on bureaucracy and organisational behaviour.
What are the challenges you face as a sociologist in your day to day work?
I believe that promoting basic ideas like understanding the limit of one’s personal experience in analysing problems and that organisational behaviour is not simply reduced to individuals’ character. Finding the appropriate methodologies for research and the hierarchical barriers to rational discussion are already huge enough challenges. Realising the promise of sociological imagination is a long and winding road.
Article copyright: © Lui Wing Shek Adrian 2010. Published by Sociology At Work. All rights reserved.
Article citation: Lui, A. (2010) ‘Strengthening Business Through Sociology: The Work of a Council Coordinator, UK,’ Working Notes, Issue 1, June, online resource: http://sociologyatwork.org/strengthening-business-through-sociology