Paper proves research to be imperative

Amanda Bayhi

Two faculty members of the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration helped produce a paper that explains how the research by UA professors helps students become more successful later in their careers.

According to a UA news release, the business journal Academy of Management Learning and Education accepted the paper, “Does Business School Research Add Economic Value for Students?” for publication in 2009.

Paul Drnevich, assistant professor of strategic management, said the journal will publish the paper later this year.

Drnevich said the main idea to take away from the paper is that what the research professors do is relevant and useful and adds value to students. Drnevich said that although the material from professors’ research may not be published in textbooks for nearly 20 years, the findings present new knowledge that students can take with them when they graduate.

“Employers are willing to pay a premium for these students,” Drnevich said.

Drnevich said employers want to hire students who know something different that they can bring to the business and competing companies may not know. With this in mind, the additional knowledge is worth money to businesses.

“Employers value students who come out of balanced schools like Alabama,” he said.

The paper, Drnevich said, demonstrates that students benefit from balanced universities, where professors participate in both research and teaching. The paper points out that if no action toward positive research is taken, students may be hurt when their professors do too much research or little to no research at all. As an example, students who graduate from balanced schools earn about $24,000 more three years after graduation than students who attend schools that focus only on research or teaching, Drnevich said.

“It’s probably worth going to one of those types of schools because you’ll make a lot more money,” he said.

Drnevich was one of three people to work on the paper. The other people who contributed were UA professor Craig Armstrong, Jonathan O’Brien from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and T. Russell Crook from the University of Tennessee.

O’Brien, a professor of strategic management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said professors’ research can help students in multiple ways. In many ways, he said it keeps students up-to-date on research and developments and it keeps faculty members used to using rigorous methods, which they bring to the classroom.

O’Brien said the research also helps students learn about what other people are doing. O’Brien said that research gives students current knowledge before it is printed in textbooks.

“Schools not involved in research are just disseminating other schools’ knowledge,” O’Brien said.

Drnevich said he and the other four professors based the paper on research conducted over a span of eight years that looked at every aspect of over 600 business schools worldwide, including every major business school.

The writers controlled influences that might distort the research, such as a school’s reputation or its ranking, and found that these kinds of things actually didn’t influence the research since it came from eight years of data.

“We were able to rule out any causes that we didn’t control for,” Drnevich said.

Drnevich said the paper is the first to answer the question of relevance when it comes to professors’ research. Drnevich said the findings are reliable because the data was empirically tested.

“This is the first study of its kind,” Drnevich said.

Drnevich said the professors wrote the paper between 2007 and 2008, and the data they used came from 2000 to 2008.

Drnevich said that although the study was based on business schools, the results could apply to almost every college or major as well as undergraduates.

“I think it would apply to sciences, engineering or other fields, as well,” Drnevich said.