What Makes Business School Research Impactful?

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Wednesday, July 3, 2024
Three of this year’s Influential Leaders discuss what it means to them to produce research with impact.
Featuring Brad Price, West Virginia University; Vera Blazevic, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen; and Jennifer Griffith, University of New Hampshire
  • Engaging with societal stakeholders is crucial for creating meaningful impact, as it ensures the research addresses real problems and fosters engaged scholarship that benefits society. 
  • Business school research is impactful when it delivers tangible benefits directly to people and prompts transformational change for communities. 
  • While publishing the research is an important part of telling the story, impact can often be measured prior to formal publication.

Learn about AACSB's Influential Leaders program at aacsb.edu/influential-leaders.


Brad Price: [00:15]I think impactful business school research is just impactful research in general. I think it's going out and finding a problem that impacts society, it impacts people and it transforms something.

So for me, it's been working in healthcare and the intersection of healthcare and business and going and working with different communities and seeing that impact almost immediately and changing a way a procedure works or changing a community, or giving communities resources as quickly as we could get them, or building a machine learning model that predicts, hey, this is going to happen at this time.

Can you try and get resources there quicker? Or building a piece of technology that we can deploy that changes a healthcare system and watching that healthcare system use it.

Vera Blazevic: [00:55]We have to embrace all the stakeholders that are with us. So I think that's really crucial because especially in the business schools, you know, we're about managing relations and providing social skills and all these kinds of things. And therefore we need to engage with the societal stakeholders that are there because in the end, society pays us to do research and therefore we should be meaningful to them.

So that means we should be engaged with them. So there's this concept of engaged scholarship, which I really value. We should understand all the problems that they have to really have meaningful impact because if we do research that no one's really interested in, then we won't have any lasting impact. So I think that's crucial.

In the end, society pays us to do research and therefore we should be meaningful to them.

Jennifer Griffith: [01:41] Impactful business school research is really important to me and to me personally. In my work, that means that I'm focused on things that are really going to impact people in my community, in my field, and in my areas of expertise.

So in my work, that means I'm thinking about the communities that are most at risk of things like sexual harassment or gender-based harassment. And how do I make sure that their workplaces are safe and supportive and places where they can thrive.

You can really think about how your work is, on the ground, going to help people directly.

And I think that applies to all business school research. You can really think about how your work is, on the ground, going to help people directly and what tangible benefits there are from the work that you're doing.

Price: [02:27] For me, I know my research has been impactful way before it's been published and way before we've seen anything like that. I know when we're doing the data analysis, I know when we're deploying the technology because I can evaluate it. And that's me specifically because we've impacted people.

We've impacted a number of people through healthcare, through what we're seeing in those healthcare outcomes, whether it's in, you know, COVID-19 with what we did deploying different resources, whether it's understanding, you know, how many people are improving health outcomes, those type of things.

When we're writing the publication, we're just telling the story at that point. 

We see it way before a number of citations in a publication. We're able to quantify those things very early on. Whether we're working with an organization, we're helping them achieve better outcomes or better metrics and those type of things, we're able to see that immediately.

[03:15] So that's the way I think of impact and that's the way I think of those outcomes. When we're writing the publication, we're just telling the story at that point. So to me, we're able to really quantify what the impact of the research is at that point.

Blazevic: [03:27] It's a little bit like an innovation. So I'm an innovation management scholar. If you put out an innovation that customers don't want, no one will buy it, right? And that's just the market forces.

And we are in a bit of a different situation, but in the end, we should really cater to their needs and hopefully also make the world a little bit a better place. So I always think that's important to have a bit of positive change because we can influence the discourses that are going around.

And I think it's a bit our leadership role of doing good with that, in the sense that we pick up also on needs of maybe more marginalized groups and so on, to really have positive change for everyone.


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