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Research we’re reading – July 2017

Research we’re reading is a regular series written by Taylor & Francis employees, taking a look at recent research that has caught our attention and got us thinking.

Katherine Burton, Associate Editorial Director

A Companion Dog Increases Prosocial Behavior in Work Groups by Stephen M. Colarelli, Amanda M. McDonald, Matthew S. Christensen & Christopher Honts

Published in Anthrozoös

“As another bus pulls past displaying the poster-Retriever of the film A Dog’s Purpose, I started to think about how humans (me included) have assigned ‘purpose’ to dogs over the long history of our relationship with our furry friends. How have humans made use of dogs in their daily existence? What roles do dogs play in developing connections among humans? And what benefits are there to maintaining human/animal interactions with dogs in our everyday work?  I turned to Anthrozoös; a versatile journal which specializes in the interactions of people and animals.

In their 2017 article “A Companion Dog Increases Prosocial Behavior in Work Groups”, the authors describe how they assigned friendly ‘companion dogs’ to small work groups within a large organization to see if this would improve group interactions. This approach to group-working resonated with me, not least given the teamwork that we are engaged in at Taylor & Francis, but perhaps as this could mean I could bring my own poochy pals to the office to help us work better together. Surely a choccy Lab would be a growth champion with his capacity for piling on the pounds? And would a Boxer lean work processes, if not eradicate all waste?

Colarelli et al’s study set out to explore whether there is a relationship between people’s positive behaviours in group work situations when a companion dog is present. The study concluded that, in general, when a dog was present, interactions among the groups appeared more positive, people in the group spoke in a friendlier manner to one another, made more eye contact and were more likely to make physical contact.

While this study was limited to working with three dogs, the positive effect of a dog’s presence in promoting social inclusion within a work group was convincingly demonstrated. Perhaps this is why humans have enjoyed such a long history of working, living and interacting with dogs – they make us more likeable to our fellow human beings.”

Paul Naish, Publisher

First Waltz: Development and Deployment of Blue Danube, Britain’s Post-War Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Aylen

Published in The International Journal for the History of Engineering & Technology

“I have a long-standing interest in both the history of science and engineering, as well as military history in general, so this recent article on the development of Britain’s first atomic bomb stood out to me. Even though it has been many years since its development, the threat of nuclear warfare is still unfortunately all too real.

From a historical standpoint the paper is well worth reading. It covers both the secret nature of the project, being approved by the UK government just after World War Two, and its wider impact on post-war British military technology and defence strategy. The paper examines the technical difficulties of independently designing a nuclear bomb, examining the existing technologies that were used, and the novel innovations in electronics and other areas that were required for the project to be successful. It goes into detail, telling the story of the Blue Danube’s development step-by-step.

The picture that emerges is one of a true British design and engineering success story, creating a hugely powerful weapon with limited resources when compared to contemporary rivals. Aylen sums up this fascinating glimpse into the creation of the weapon very succinctly:

Above all, Blue Danube — however provisional — was a British deterrent. The weapon was developed and deployed with awesome professionalism and with emphasis on the credibility of the threat it posed. Cheap but practical development of the atomic bomb saved deploying resources elsewhere.””

Chrissy Sihdu, Press & Media Relations Executive

Local attitudes towards tourism and conservation in rural Botswana and Rwanda by Rosemary Black & Patrick Brandful Cobbinah

Published in Journal of Ecotourism

“As someone with a keen interest in wildlife conservation this research article caught my eye. The authors conducted interviews with rural African communities in areas that have good potential for wildlife tourism, to understand their views on how tourism and conservation could work together. Local support is paramount in ensuring that these projects are successful and it is not uncommon for conservation attempts to fail due to lack of local support. It can be hard in developing countries to explain the importance of wildlife conservation as much more pressing issues, such as lack of running water or an education infrastructure, are often prevalent. This study shows that members of rural African communities are supportive of the conservation efforts proposed which is a small step forward in a very long race, but nonetheless still a victory.”

Read the previous Research we’re reading post.