Business Research

International Language of Research Spoken Here

by Barbara Elmore

Almost 10 years ago, a student from a university in France sought out a business professor at Baylor, hoping to study with him in Texas. She contacted him because of his research on socially responsible consumer behavior.

He agreed, she made the trip, and the collaboration was successful. Soon after, a second French student arrived.

Both students paid their own way to Waco to work intensively on her research. Each worked with a Baylor professor. Each of these early collaborations resulted in articles in scholarly journals.

In fact, the results of those two initial requests, the first coming in 2003, have had far-reaching consequences. Probably the most significant is that they inspired the McBride Fellowship program, which has resulted in multiple international collaborations with Baylor professors that extend into the classroom.

The program, now in its sixth year, may host two or three post-doctoral candidates annually, attracting scholars from Europe as well as Africa, China and Thailand. The fellowships operate under the auspices of the McBride Center for International Business.

The Fellows come to Baylor in more than one way. Faculty members in the Hankamer School of Business who have strong international relationships recruit students by asking university colleagues in other countries for recommendations. This often leads to direct international student to Baylor professor contact.

Sometimes, a student has heard about the McBride Fellowship program and contacts Baylor without knowing which faculty member might be interested in his or her research. Once Baylor finds a faculty member willing to advise the student, McBride officials invite a proposal that includes a specific date of study and a description of the student's research. The students work at Baylor for at least a month, sometimes longer.

Papers published or under production as a result of these Baylor-headquartered collaborations cover subjects as wide-ranging as the countries the students arrive from, and as varied as the topics that might be covered in business classes.

Here is a sampling of some of the papers that have been published, are in development, or are under consideration as a result of the McBride Fellowship program:


Steven Bradley, assistant professor of Management and Entrepreneurship, has produced seven papers about microcredit, many of them co-authored by Edward Simiyu, a graduate student from Jomo Kenyatta University of Architecture and Technology in Kenya.

Microcredit is the act of giving loans in small amounts to help develop businesses such as roadside vegetable stands, and some people see the loans as the solution to poverty. Bradley's research shows that is not necessarily the case. His research, for which Simiyu helped gather statistical data, reveals that although microcredit loans have some positive effects on a person's confidence, or help to literally put food on the table, they do not normally lift the recipients from poverty. Most of the businesses he studied lack innovation because the business owners tended to copy each other, operating the same types of businesses in the same places. However, innovation pays off. "If business owners did anything different, their businesses performed better," Bradley says.

These findings led the researchers to look at the factors that affect a person's ability to come up with new opportunities. They studied social capital, human capital and family business backgrounds.

"The policy implication is trying to help banks think more carefully about loaning money, about training business owners to come up with better opportunities, or to screen whether opportunities are worth pursuing," Bradley says. "Indebting people is not helping them if the business is not likely to thrive. There is growing criticism about microcredit because of this issue."

Bradley recruited Simiyu to be a McBride Fellow after meeting him on the Baylor campus in 2009. Simiyu, also interested in microfinance, had operated a church program in Kenya. He was the data collector on each of Bradley's papers that use information from Kenya.

The papers include "Capital Is Not Enough: Innovation in Developing Economies," published in June 2011 in the Journal of Management Studies; "Self-employed or Employing Others? Pre-Entry Capabilities, Entrepreneurial Action, and the Resourcefulness of Microcredit Firm Founders" in Entrepreneurial Resourcefulness: Competing with Constraints (Volume 15 of Advances in Entrepreneurship, Firm Emergence and Growth); and "Does Marketing Strategy Matter for Microcredit Firms? Market Orientation, Innovation and Performance in Developing Economies," in Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research Best Paper Proceedings.

Simiyu also lectured in some of Bradley's classes and participated in discussions. Bradley recalls one give-and-take session about property rights and the rule of law in a social entrepreneurship and economic development class. Simiyu's passion on the subject of property rights helped students see the topic from a broader perspective. "Developing countries don't have property rights" in the same way that Americans understand them, Bradley notes. "Kenya had just passed a new constitution and Edward informed us about what that was going to mean to Kenya by providing greater clarity to property rights. He was excited. For students to see that, understanding how big of a deal it was, was helpful."

Advocacy Marketing and Sales

Jeff Tanner, professor of Marketing, worked in 2005 with F. Juliet Poujol from the University of Montpellier, one of the two French students who helped inspire the creation of the McBride Fellowship program. She and Tanner co-authored two papers and Poujol completed her dissertation as a result of her work at Baylor.

"Compliance versus Preference: Understanding Salesperson Response to Contests," appeared in the Journal of Business Research and "The Impact of Sales Contests on Salespeople's Customer Orientation" was published in the Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management.

Tanner, who is associate dean of Faculty Development and Research, says Poujol's choice of topics resulted from her sales experience.

"She saw these things in the field and wondered what was important about them. The challenge for the doctoral students is being able to position the data in a way so that they are able to make the broadest contribution," he adds. "When the Fellows arrive, they are already pretty far along in the process. It's usually a matter of just shaping the results to make them publishable."

Agnes Francois-LeCompte from University-Pierre-Mendes-France in Grenoble, who studied socially responsible consumption and arrived at Baylor in 2004 to work with Marketing professor Jim Roberts, was the other French student who helped inspire the Fellows program. "Neither Juliet nor Agnes were McBride Fellows, but both came here under their own funding," says Tanner. "That was the inspiration for the program."

In 2011, Tanner worked with Jean-Laurent Rodriguez, also from Montpellier, on the topic of advocacy marketing. They have a paper under review that investigates how consumers influence other people on the behalf of a company or product. Rodriguez, who drew on his experience from the direct selling industry, found that in addition to customer satisfaction, other factors must exist for advocacy.

"Customers have to see others advocate, and they also have to be delighted," Tanner says. "When a salesperson goes beyond what's expected, we are much more likely to see advocacy."

Cloud Computing

The influence of Dorothy Leidner, the Ferguson Professor of Information Systems, has resulted in five students studying at Baylor as McBride Fellows. The most recent was Jan Huntgeburth from University of Mannheim. Leidner is working with him on a paper titled "The Role of Uncertainty in Cloud Computing Continuance-a Principal-Agent Perspective." Huntgeburth gathered part of his data while at Baylor.

The paper investigates why people use cloud computing, which allows people to use services offsite instead of on their own computers.

"The paper looks at uncertainties like privacy, security and availability, and the different factors to reduce those uncertainties-such as whether peers are using it, or if you trust the providers," Leidner says. The paper also examines how cloud technologies work together-for example, how Dropbox, a file hosting service, works with Google.

The use of cloud computing relates to a person's experience with technology, how much he uses it and how much he uses the Internet, Leidner notes. "Younger people tend to be more immune to the risks of cloud computing than older people, in part because they have been using social media for several years without knowing where the pictures, texts and videos they upload are actually stored," she says.

Leidner, director of the Hankamer School of Business's PhD Program in Information Systems, knew both Huntgeburth and his adviser at Mannheim, where she teaches each summer. Of the five McBride Fellows brought to Baylor and hosted by Information Systems, four have been from Mannheim and one from Goethe University in Frankfurt.

Intentionally Seeking Fellows

Although international students still contact Baylor to inquire about the fellowships, much like the two French students who inspired the program, marketing is more intentional now, says Steve Gardner, director of the McBride Center for International Business. Once Gardner finds a faculty member interested in working with the student, he seeks the date the student wants to arrive and the subject matter of the research.

Once at Baylor, the Fellows do presentations and attend classes. Almost all of them have published in an academic journal as a result of their visit, Gardner says. "Often students are deep into their work before they come here, but they see someone at Baylor who might be helpful to them," he says.

Connections happen more directly when students know a professor and get in touch, Gardner says.

"We have people who have developed relationships in other countries and they have proposals made directly to them," Gardner says. "The proposal may come from a PhD student they met, or they may have a faculty contact in another country. That's how quite a few of these happen. Dorothy Leidner has hosted several from her network of relationships in other universities in France and Germany."

Hankamer reaps several benefits from the Fellows, says Gardner. One is that the student has often already gathered data by the time he or she arrives on campus, resulting in a low-cost, highly effective event. Another benefit is close international cooperation with international students and universities.

"Our objective is to get more Baylor students and faculty members to have international experiences themselves," adds Gardner. "Some people are not going to do that. For many people, the international experiences will happen in Waco, Texas, when they have a closer working relationship with someone who comes here from another country. This is a way to globalize the faculty and students at Baylor while they are here."

The third benefit is the connections that Baylor establishes abroad. Because the PhD students come from schools with strong reputations, their arrival establishes a link between universities that creates new opportunities for direct relationships. Presentations by foreign students at conferences lead to more collaboration, illustrated by the number of McBride Fellows coming from the same university.

Measuring Success

Although the program began six years ago, many of the projects finished at Baylor are only now resulting in publication, as it takes several years for papers to be written, submitted and approved. "We have a better picture of how successful it has been," Gardner says.

He doesn't anticipate changes beyond encouraging broader participation in the program across departments.

"Information systems, marketing and economics have worked with a great many of McBride scholars," Gardner says. "We would love to see applications from more departments because it is a great experience. The Fellows interact with other people in the hosting department, and the program can lead to other kinds of institutional cooperation."

The Hankamer School of Business has a long history of creating international opportunities for students. The McBride Center for International Business opened in the 1980s, and by the 1990s, the business school was sending students to St. Petersburg, Russia, to teach business skills to young Russian entrepreneurs. The McBride Center helps Baylor be a great teaching and a great research university, Gardner notes, and the Fellows program extends the reach.

"When you bring people to Baylor who have not been here before, they are impressed by the campus, the faculty and the students," Gardner says. "This helps extend our reputation in the global research community."

Jeff Tanner
Baylor University