Empathy, Social Justice and Business: An interview with Matthew Cartabuke

Matthew Cartabuke

When he began his graduate studies at Appalachian, Matthew Cartabuke and Dr. Jim Westerman quickly discovered they shared two interests: membership in Amnesty International and an interest in researching social justice. "I was interested in what makes people more likely to embrace social justice issues," said Cartabuke. "Dr. Westerman and I agreed that empathy might be a likely precursor. This provided the foundation for our research as well as my thesis."

Cartabuke successfully defended his thesis "Empathy as an Antecedent of Social Justice Behavior" in April. He hypothesized that empathy is related to perceptions of societal fairness and that those higher on empathy also hold more social justice attitudes. He demonstrated that empathy linked to social justice variables has important implications in the development of business students and academic business programs. "The thesis was a challenge to write, but it ultimately ended up being one of the most rewarding things I have ever done," said Cartabuke. "It helped me improve my writing and critical thinking skills and has garnered recognition from the university community."

Cartabuke received the "Creating a Healthy, Just, and Sustainable Society" research grant and has presented his work at many conferences including the Appalachian Business in Research Symposium, The River City Industrial Organizational Psychology Conference and the Southern Management Association. Cartabuke added that his Appalachian professors are passionate about the work they do and are equally passionate about supporting their students. "I have gotten to know all of my professors on a personal level, which has been a unique experience."

What Cartabuke feels is not unique is a trend in industry: businesses are increasingly adopting sustainable business practices. "It is quite clear that sustainability is the wave of the future, which makes it even more crucial that more research be done about how businesses can pursue sustainability," said Cartabuke.

For the second time in his life, Cartabuke is undertaking the challenge of dual degrees. In the time it may take another to earn one degree, Cartabuke earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in History at Florida State University (FSU). In December 2015, Cartabuke will graduate with two more degrees, a Master of Arts in Industrial-Organizational Psychology Human Resource Management (IOHRM) and a Master of Business Administration with concentrations in Human Resource Management and International Business from Appalachian State University.

Cartabuke selected Appalachian as his choice for graduate programs because of its IOHRM program offering, which he explains is unique. "It is the only combined I-O psychology and human resource management program in the world," said Cartabuke. "This gives students the opportunity to learn the principles of both disciplines as well as integrate them to become better, more well-rounded managers."

Cartabuke, who completed an internship with TIAA-CREF last year, hopes to begin his career in human resources after graduation, although he hasn't ruled out pursuit of a Ph.D. Dr. Westerman and Cartabuke are currently working together to publish his thesis in a refereed journal.

Matthew Cartabuke
Published: May 13, 2015 1:00pm