Why Go to a Research University?

I’m going to brag on my colleagues in the management department for a minute.  They had a terrific year and their accomplishments give me the opportunity to explain what we are trying to achieve in the college and why you want to go to a research university like UCF.

Google has a search engine that measures the impact of academic research.  It is called Google Scholar, and they recently recognized 10 papers written in 2006 as “management classics.” These are papers people are still talking about 10 years after they were originally published. This means the ideas in these articles have inspired others and stood the test of time. I was pleased to see that two of those 10 papers were written by teams that included one of our faculty. Both of these faculty are recent hires, people who joined us in the past couple of years as part of our continued efforts to attract more thought leaders to the college. Jim Combs, the Della Phillips Martha Schenck Chair of American Private Enterprise and Professor of Management, was recognized for a paper titled: “How much do high‐performance work practices matter? A meta‐analysis of their effects on organizational performance.” The paper has been cited 1,420 times. Ron Piccolo, Galloway Professor of Management and Chair of the management department, was recognized for “Transformational leadership and job behaviors: The mediating role of core job characteristics.” That paper has been cited 1,370 times. To give you a sense of how influential the ideas in these two paper are, understand the average published paper in management is cited fewer than 30 times.

I seek out and pay people with influential ideas like these so they will bring their research insights into the classroom and influence practitioners. A case in point is Dr. Marshall Schminke. Marshall is the BB&T Professor of Business Ethics at UCF.  He has written more than 40 papers, consulted with a wide array of companies and been quoted in more than 50 national publications. A few weeks ago, Marshall  was recognized as a “Master Ethics Teacher” at the 6th Teaching Ethics at Universities Conference, hosted by the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University, and sponsored by the Society for Business Ethics and the Wheatley Institution at BYU. The award recognizes outstanding faculty members who have made significant contributions to the teaching of business ethics.  They do this by taking their research into the classroom and boardroom.

And let’s not forget that Marshall’s colleague Dr. Robert Folger is one of the founding members of the behavioral ethics field.  Behavioral ethics is a new field of social scientific research that seeks to understand how people actually behave when confronted with ethical dilemmas. Rob became the college’s second Pegasus Professor earlier this year. It is the highest honor UCF bestows on faculty. He is the Distinguished Alumni Endowed Professor in Business Ethics, has mentored many Ph.D. students and has more than 25,000 citations to his work. In short, he has had a lot of insights that have inspired others and changed how people understand ethics in organizations.

As you can see, the Management Department had a banner year.  More importantly, our management students get to learn from some of the best faculty in the field. The reason to attend a large research-oriented university is you get to learn from people who are actively influencing how the future will unfold. You get to engage in conversations with people who wrote the book or article, rather than someone who is just explaining something they read. In the process, you gain more insight and perspective. In today’s information saturated world, it’s more insight and perspective that is going to differentiate you from the crowd. If you are the average of the five people you hang out with the most, wouldn’t you want to hang out with people with insights like Professors Combs, Piccolo, Schminke and Folger?  And I didn’t even mention Drs. Ambrose, Bennett, Ford, Taylor or Whiting.  Look them up — they’re pretty cool and very accomplished, too.

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