Babson faculty member Jennifer Bailey was in the midst of presenting research to colleagues on managing entrepreneurial risk when she did something a bit unorthodox: She asked the audience for feedback. “Maybe you can tell me where the gaps are, to help me fill in my blind spots,” said Bailey, assistant professor in the Technology, Operations, and Information Management (TOIM) Division.
This back-and-forth is part of what Babson Faculty Research Day, now in its third year, is all about. The daylong event, held February 1 in Malloy Hall, is designed to highlight and promote the research being done on campus and to help faculty make significant connections with one another, especially among disciplines. The relaxed format promotes feedback and ideas, fostering collaborations. Conversations often inspire additional exploration and revisions on papers, moving research closer to publication in peer-reviewed journals.
The research presented throughout the day included everything from raw data to completed papers currently being circulated for review. Among the tracks were Integrated Sustainability, Scholarly Development, and Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Faculty from marketing, math and science, finance, entrepreneurship, TOIM, economics, and other divisions delved into topics ranging from climate change to cryptocurrency, ethics in artificial intelligence, and gender issues.
Faculty seem to appreciate the reactions to their work, as they stayed huddled in animated conversations after presentations were finished.
“There are few events that allow you to present research in a truly developmental way,” said Alisa Jno-Charles ’05, MBA’11, an assistant professor in entrepreneurship. “Research conferences are usually looking for completed papers, so it’s rare to have an opportunity to present early work.” During her presentation on the risks and rewards of investing early in new trends, Bailey and Jérôme Taillard, an associate professor in finance, weighed in with questions and comments. “You want that cross-disciplinary feedback,” Jno-Charles said.
Eliana Crosina ’05, MBA’11, an assistant professor of entrepreneurship, agreed. After presenting research on how entrepreneurs relate to their businesses, and how that affects company growth, she engaged in a question-and-answer session with colleagues. “By presenting, you gain the perspective of others who are seeing and responding to your work from different standpoints. Every time I have the opportunity to present in front of a group, it helps me clarify my own thinking. People were asking questions journal reviewers might also pose. This is crucial to see what resonates with an audience, both positively or less positively.”
A Passion for Research
Each iteration of Faculty Research Day has spawned a few tweaks. This year introduced panel discussions into the mix, with two sessions exploring the process of getting research published, complete with helpful insider tips from faculty members who are reviewers and editors themselves. (One tip: make sure the paper is formatted to perfection before submitting, and pay attention to feedback.)
“For me, the greatest joy is to see everyone’s passion for what they’re doing,” said Danna Greenberg, the Walter H. Carpenter Professor of Organizational Behavior and co-coordinator of the event. The most important goal of the day, she added, “is to build community and conversation around research and scholarship. This is an opportunity to learn from one another about different ways of doing research and developing some cross-disciplinary collaborations. This is an important part of what Babson is.”
Hosting a day devoted to faculty research was something Babson needed, said David Nersessian, associate professor in the Accounting and Law Division, who crafted the idea for the event. Programs like this are important, he added, “because they highlight a growing trend—and underserved need—in modern business. As our world becomes more connected, faster paced, and increasingly complex, the deep problems we face cannot be solved using the tools and methodologies of a single discipline. Transformative solutions require the kind of multidisciplinary thinking that Babson’s research day represents.”
“As our world becomes more connected, faster paced, and increasingly complex, the deep problems we face cannot be solved using the tools and methodologies of a single discipline. Transformative solutions require the kind of multidisciplinary thinking that Babson’s research day represents.”
David Nersessian, associate professor of accounting and law
Connections That Drive Collaborations
Dessi Pachamanova, professor and Zwerling Family Endowed Research Scholar, Math and Science Division, has attended all three years of Faculty Research Day. This year and in the inaugural year she was a presenter, and last year she was an attendee. This year, while on sabbatical at MIT, she returned to Babson to co-present two papers with Babson co-authors; one paper (“Identifying Drivers of Commercial Success of Healthcare Innovations”) had resulted after talking with a colleague after last year’s event. “You often have the tools someone needs, and that allows you to come up with ideas for new research,” she said.
Being privy to others’ research at a campus event like this is a bonus: “You may not have time to follow other faculty members’ research or seek them out regularly. The format they’ve chosen for Faculty Research Day, the short presentations, allows you to see what others are working on, and it leaves time for questions and discussions.”
Presenting findings to faculty from other disciplines also compels faculty to find new ways to explain and position their research so that everyone understands it. “It’s fun to think of it in different ways, and you always learn something by seeing the audience’s reaction,” Pachamanova said. “My research involves theory and applications of advanced analytical techniques and can be difficult to explain, so I try help the audience see the big picture.”
Staff and students are encouraged to attend this research event too. Freshman Megan Pu sat in on an Innovation & Entrepreneurship track, listening raptly as professors gave their presentations. “This is the first time I’ve come to something like this,” said Pu, who was here on advice from one of her professors. “This is a new world for me. It’s fascinating to see the hypotheses and results of their research.”