Carla D. Jones, associate professor of management in the College of Business Administration at Sam Houston State University, was named a 2021 Templeton Fellow with the Foreign Policy Research Institute in May. Her research, being conducted with two other professors through FPRI’s Africa Program, comes with a one-year, $10,000 grant to be split amongst the team.
Most of Jones’ work has been focused on leader influence within a corporation. However, more recently, she has taken an interest in how leadership influence from developed countries may shape outcomes for emerging countries.
“I think it enlightens us in a couple of ways,” Jones said. “On one hand, I’m looking at how outcomes are developed. On another side, I enjoy examining how to develop a team that can achieve better outcomes. By taking a broader scope, I gain the ability to examine a greater aspect of influence.”
FPRI’s Africa Program serves to enlighten the public about the continent of Africa, and the Templeton Fellowship is an opportunity for the institute to encourage and support research across topics they are interested in.
“Their belief is that if the general public is not informed, they will not encourage our lawmakers to do anything,” Jones said. “FPRI says we need a population better educated on Africa, and the Africa Program seeks to do that.”
Jones and her colleagues were already researching relationships between the US, China and Africa when they found the grant proposal opportunity through FPRI. Through the fellowship, Jones has the opportunity to apply her interests in leader influence to her work with the institute.
“Our research looks specifically at how the US and China might cooperate in their endeavors in the continent of Africa,” Jones said. “We examine different regions where either the US or China has already invested in African countries, what the outcome of that can be, and whether there is an opportunity for cooperation between the US and China.”
Jones’ team will develop a public policy report and an op-ed during their fellowship that FPRI will promote and bring attention to. This allows her and her co-authors to dive deeper into the outcomes of their research and what they expect might happen going forward with China, the US and Africa.
“This stretches us to go one step further and say, ‘Now that we’ve completed this research, what are the potential outcomes and how might it actually impact what is done?’ Developing public policy documents is something new and exciting that we are not usually responsible for,” Jones said.
Not only does Jones see the value of research as it relates to corporations, countries and the general public, but she also sees how research benefits her students. As a first-generation college graduate seeking knowledge in a way that will make a difference around the world, Jones hopes to make an impact on her students the way her undergraduate professors did on her.
“Research helps us understand the environment that we work in better. The research that I do helps me to understand decision-making and how executives/leaders work together as a team,” Jones explained. “It also gives me the opportunity to bring new ideas into the classroom. At SHSU, I am able to help broaden students’ horizons and encourage them to do things they may not have considered previously.”