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Walden Magazine // Feb 15, 2011

Frank Dilley Award: Effecting Social Change Through Measurable Corporate Philanthropy

Dr. David Finch, who received a PhD in Applied Management and Decision Sciences (now PhD in Management), was awarded Walden University’s Frank Dilley Award for his dissertation, The Stakeholder Scorecard: Evaluating the Influence of Stakeholder Relationships on Corporate Performance.

Dissertation Inspiration

Finch, an assistant professor of marketing at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, worked for agencies and corporations for almost 20 years before he became a full-time professor. “My specialization is consulting in community investment, corporate philanthropy, and sponsorship. This role involves advising clients to spend millions of dollars on intangible value,” he explains. “The question always is, ‘Why do I spend this money? What is the return on investment?’”

Throughout his career, he witnessed a dramatic decline in corporate social investment, which inspired him to study how to measure charitable corporate investments while pursing his Ph.D. If he could link it to measurable economic values, he reasoned, he could create a compelling argument for increased corporate giving.

Measuring Corporate Giving

Finch acknowledges that today’s economy is knowledge driven, which means that the majority of any business’s assets are intangible, and that the value of intangible assets is inherently subjective, context dependent, and future oriented—in other words, very difficult to measure. Even still, Finch developed a method of measuring the value of charitable giving by examining the value of reciprocity, reputation, duration, and economics as they relate to the influence of the media and relationship capital.

“The results of my study offer a significant contribution to social change by enabling a firm to correlate social investments as indicators of value creation, thereby allowing practitioners to test the impact of these social investments on firm performance,” Finch explains. “The next phase is to further deconstruct the model to better understand how the ‘equity’ that corporate philanthropy and social investment builds can be linked to measurable value over a longer period of time.”

Finch lauds Walden’s mission of social change, and hopes to fulfill it through his own work. “I am a huge proponent of Walden’s vision of a scholar-practitioner,” Finch says. “The social change mandate challenges every one of us in this community to not only be better scholars but to be better citizens.”

Finch’s dissertation committee consisted of Dr. Howard Schechter (chair), who received the Rita Turner Award; Dr. Jose Quiles; Dr. Javier Fadul, also a Frank Dilley Award recipient; and Dr. Norm O’Reilly.

About the Award

This award is bestowed annually upon a Walden graduate whose dissertation is judged as meeting the highest standards of academic excellence. It honors Dr. Frank Dilley’s singular academic contributions to higher education and specifically his dedication to Walden academic programs. An active contributor to the university programs, in particular residencies, Dr. Dilley personifies Walden’s innovative spirit.

Read more about the Frank Dilley Award and past recipients.