Season 6 - Episode 617
Research within Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business yields insights in business ethics, management, leadership, human behavior and more. Mitch Neubert serves as Senior Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business, Chavanne Chair of Christian Ethics in Business and Professor Management. In this Baylor Connections, he examines the role of business research at Baylor and takes listeners inside the factors that make Hankamer scholarship distinct in higher education.
Derek Smith:Hello and welcome to Baylor Connections, a conversation series with the people shaping our future. Each week we go in depth with Baylor leaders, professors, and more, discussing important topics in higher education, research and student life. I'm Derek Smith, and today we are talking Baylor Business Research with Dr. Mitch Neubert. Dr. Neubert serves as Senior Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development in Baylor's Hankamer school of business. He's also the Chavanne Chair of Christian Ethics in Business, and Professor of Management. A longtime Baylor faculty member, Neubert serves to enhance the research culture in Hankamer and support faculty in their fulfillment of its mission. He's created three ethics competitions for the school, including the National MBA Case Competition in Ethical Leadership, and continues to promote ethics in his teaching and service. In addition to numerous teaching awards, his research includes partnerships with multidisciplinary colleagues in sociology on a National Science Foundation funded project, and he'll help paint the picture of research in Hankamer with us today. Dr. Neubert, thanks so much for joining us. Great to have you on the program.
Mitch Neubert:Great to be here.
Derek Smith:Well, I know you and your colleagues, there's a lot of great work taking place in Hankamer, both as it relates to teaching to research and the intersection of both of those. Certainly not separate. And just kind of start off, I'm curious, as we approach the end of the semester now, which is kind of crazy, what are some of the activities we might find you and your colleagues engaged in or with your students? Is there something you particularly enjoy about this time of the year?
Mitch Neubert:Well, yeah, this is a time where things are kind of wrapping up. I mean, there's still some weeks to go, even though I know students have the days on their calendar kind of marked, but it is a time to kind of wrap up and celebrate some things. That might be a class just kind of celebrating, getting through a class and trying to finish off those projects, which might make it busy for some students and some faculty. There's also it seems like my schedule's full of banquets and celebrations. Last night I was at the Paul J. Meyer Christian Leadership Business Banquet, celebrating those who completed a yearlong program and those who are going to start next year. And before that we were at the senior appreciation banquets. I think there's also a kind of season of celebration in ending, which is really satisfying.
Derek Smith:Absolutely. A lot to celebrate with our great students and your fellow faculty. And as we head into the summer, I'm curious, we're talking research. Y'all keep pretty busy schedules and the summer, at least a few things clear out of it. Is that a busy time for research and advancing those projects?
Mitch Neubert:Yeah, I do think that sometimes people from the outside looking and say, "Ah, you get to spend all summer golfing or doing whatever," but really it's a time to catch up on research and because a lot of those research projects, they just take concentrated blocks of time. When you're trying to do that in between classes and committee meetings and the like it's challenging. Really a lot of our faculty look forward to this summer where they can really double down on a project to move it forward or maybe a revision of a paper that's been under review and had some feedback from the journal and they can really dedicate that time to do that. It's a great concentrated time for those who are investing in research during the summer.
Derek Smith:Visiting with Dr. Mitch Neubert, and your role, Senior Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, one position that you hold in addition to teaching. How long have you been in that role and why did that appeal to you?
Mitch Neubert:Well, I'm wrapping up four years in that role and it really appealed to me because that role actually helps us fulfill our mission. And I am really committed to our Christian mission and all elements of it within Hankamer. It involves cultivating principal leaders to serve the global marketplace through impactful research, transformational education and in a culture of innovation guided by Christian values. All those things are exciting to me and they're unique and they're distinctive, and it's what really drew me to be at Baylor. The opportunity to be in the Dean's Office, the Dean's Suite, and to be able to facilitate and strengthen and support that mission is really attractive to me. As a Research and Faculty Development Associate Dean, my emphasis though is on how to promote the impactful research that allows our faculty to kind of have a voice in large national conversations as well as just in their academic disciplines, and in faculty development overall, I just have a wonderful opportunity to meet and interview a lot of the faculty who are coming in and make sure they know what Baylor's about and see if they're a good fit for us. And that's a privilege to be able to be in those conversations. Then of course when they get here, then I get to have a role in helping orient them to Baylor and what's unique about Baylor and support them as they head towards tenure for some of them or others who are clinical folks and have a different path but also are equally important to our mission. I can support them as well.
Derek Smith:That's great. In a lot of ways you can be involved. Where all might we find you involved or how might we find you involved with your fellow colleagues in that role?
Mitch Neubert:Well, a lot of meetings, so-
Mitch Neubert:... The life of a faculty member before meetings, I find fond memories of that, but actually these are important meetings, so I'm glad to be in them. I'm usually in a fair bit of meetings to meet faculty, but then also in my role, I host a number of meetings where I'm helping them. For example, this year we had a series of four or five different faculty development seminars and each one of them had an element of the mission. We had one right in the fall, talked about teaching effectiveness, and so we invited the new faculty as well as any other faculty within the Hankamer School to come and join us for that seminar and actually had somebody from education come and speak to us in that seminar. But sometimes we've had in that seminar, which we usually try to have at least one or more teaching seminars, we've had actually award-winning teachers from Hankamer lead those sessions. But this one we had somebody from outside the school give us some tips and techniques about using technology and that was great. Then we had a seminar really about faith integration because that is so unique. All the faculty who come to Baylor have not been raised or educated in that model typically. Most PhD programs keep those things quite separate, the spiritual part. It's a seminar just to talk about what it might look like to integrate faith into business discussions. Of course, we do it in appropriate ways. I mean, when you have an accounting class, you teach accounting. When you have marketing, you teach marketing. But there are plenty of opportunities to offer kind of a Christian perspective on that, that students can consider. They don't have to believe it themselves necessarily, but it's a great place to help faculty think about appropriate ways they can integrate that into their teaching. Then even challenge students ... Excuse me. Faculty, to think about how it might spur unique research ideas. And that's something that I think our faith tends to implicitly guide some of the things that we do and the choices we make about topics that are of interest to us. But we are challenging faculty to think about, well, what might a faith perspective actually add to the way you normally think about your discipline or the topics you're interested in? For me, I was studying leadership in various ways, leadership of teams, just ethical leadership, but my faith and my belief in a servant leadership model that I saw in the life of Christ, I started to think, "Well, I wonder if I'd work out well in the business world. How about if I research it to make sure that I don't actually teach something that's going to cause people to lose their jobs, but it actually works?" Many years ago, I was on the front end of doing some work on servant leadership, which really was integrated with my faith or driven by my faith. And now Baylor has several people who do research and servant leadership and really we're kind of known for that. And it was again linked to my faith. I hope there are other opportunities for faculty to think about how their faith might give them a unique insight or inspiration for topics.
Derek Smith:Well, let's dive in a little bit more to research in Hankamer because we can go a number of different directions with this. But let's start off at a high level. I think a lot of people when they think research, they'll picture a science lab, they'll picture work being done in a laboratory or out at a field or stream, but there's a lot of great research taking place at Hankamer. What does that look like? What role does that play in Baylor School of Business?
Mitch Neubert:Well, I think it's been part of the Hankamer School of Business, our history for a while, but it certainly has taken on a stronger emphasis the last couple decades. Then in this last five to seven years really has taken on a strong emphasis as being part of an R1 university. We want to make sure that research is something that we're engaging in and we're actually publishing in the top journals in the field because that really allows you access into important discussions. And also then shapes practice when you're in journals that people are reading and they consider to be high quality journals. It's definitely a part of where at Baylor and something we've grown in. It is hard for I think people to think about what research looks like because of what you said, the different kind of stereotypical ideas of research. But for us, we're really trying to understand the causes behind people's behavior, what they do in the workplace, causes behind how or why an organization or business succeeds or fails. We're trying to explain things that are happening out there. And by gathering data over many different people in many different organizations, we really are trying to arrive at best practices, like what normally works or what works best? How we do that can be through a variety of ways. We actually do have some who do experimental research, and although we're not looking with a beaker and working with a microscope, we put people in situations where we can control the kinds of things that they're exposed to in terms of what maybe the scenario that they're reading and actually then compare that against people who are exposed to a different scenario or a different set of conditions. We do have some experimental work and we have a couple different places from the business school where we have those labs set up to have that kind of research. But there's a lot of survey research. That's just polling practitioners, people who are working in the business world. What's contributing to their satisfaction? What kind of workplace conditions are either hindering or enhancing their creativity? What are different explanations for their job performance? There's surveys that we do. Another set of folks actually do a fair bit of interviewing like we're doing here, asking questions, trying to get behind or underneath why somebody's successful or even maybe why somebody's struggling. Then another set of folks are maybe just digging through archival data, masses of data. And we're actually, data analytics is an emphasis we're attempting to grow in. There are huge stockpiles of data different places, and many of our faculty are now realizing that that's a great place to uncover and understand what's happening by mining this data for answers about relationships and what's contributing to what.
Derek Smith:As we talk here, I'm thinking we've had past faculty, your colleagues that we've had on this program, I remember we've had JaeHwan Kwon talking about eye movement research where you're looking at tracking eye movements. Ashley Otto decision making, Matt Quaid was on earlier this semester talking about ethical leadership or amoral leadership, Meredith David, a lot of faculty have been a part of this. For you you are able to get your hands on a little bit of everything, at least as you work with faculty. What's that like for you to interact with faculty in different sub-disciplines within Hankamer?
Mitch Neubert:Well, it's humbling because there's so many people who have expertise in areas that I don't have expertise. I listen and I enjoy learning about what they're doing. But it's exciting because I think we're just doing some really interesting research across the disciplines that we have majors in in the business school. It's really a privilege to try and figure out how I can sort those folks so that they can publish in the top journals that they're, along with other people in Hankamer, how we can actually publicize their work just like you're doing and our marketing and communication staff do. It's a real interesting process. And we have different seminars where people from different departments can listen in and other people who are working outside their discipline. I think that that's an interesting opportunity we've really tried to grow. In fact, I may be a little off topic here, but we do something that's been really fun. It's called a brief business brainstorm for breakfast. It's kind of a mouthful, but four Bs. And what we do is we have people present a really short, in 10 minutes or less, a research idea or a research paper that's undergoing some review and then have a multidisciplinary audience. And usually the group isn't huge, but you'll have several different departments represented and then they can go, "Oh, have you ever thought about this theory?" Or, "Have you tried this analytic technique?" We've had a lot of, I think, beneficial conversations and really interesting conversations.
Derek Smith:Dr. Mitch Neubert, Senior Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, Chavanne Chair of Christian Ethics in Business, and Professor of Management at Baylor's Hankamer School of Business. I'm going to ask you a question that maybe it's obvious, but maybe I'd be curious to hear your thoughts. You think about it, we spend a lot of time at work. Everyone spends a lot of time at work. The biggest uninterrupted or quasi uninterrupted part of our day anyway, the biggest block of time is spent at work. What importance, what opportunities does that present when you are looking ... I know work only scratches the surface, but I mean, it all kind of comes back to vocation and commerce and the ways people advance their lives or supply their lives. Well, so what does that mean to you and your colleagues when you're doing research that advances understanding?
Mitch Neubert:Business in some ways has gotten a bad rep, but at its core, businesses are created to provide services for people, products and services for people. And that's a good work. We spent a lot, I think, a fair bit of time early on with students trying to convince them that God could be calling you to work and that work could be good. And even in a chapel that we do with some of our incoming freshmen, we talk about the fact that this all began back in Genesis, right? God created everything and he worked for six days and then he rested. I mean, God's a worker. Then he called us into his work and he said, "You can have dominion, you can cultivate, you can help this creation flourish. That's what I want you to do." Work is, and organizing people towards tasks and products and services, can be a dignifying work. We believe it's something that God can call us to do. The work itself can be valuable and it can be a calling in that you can be doing good work that'll help a community flourish. How you do it in terms of your behaviors and attitudes can be glorifying to God. It's an exciting opportunity to think about how the workplace is that context to live out of calling that some people think is only reserved for those who go to seminary and so on.
Derek Smith:Visiting with Dr. Mitch Neubert and Dr. Neubert, a moment ago, I mentioned a few of your colleagues that we've had on the show. And I'm curious, realize I asked you this, I realize there there's no way to even really begin to hardly scratch the surface, but are there some projects taking place right now at Hankamer in recent years that have gained traction, that have been pretty especially exciting for you and your colleagues to work on?
Mitch Neubert:Sure. I'm going to talk about one thing that we've been spending a fair bit of time on, and actually our accrediting agency, the ACSB, has encouraged colleges to do this, is to think about the impact of our work, our research, about the things that we're teaching in the classroom, about the service that we do outside of the classroom. And that's been really helpful for us because here at Baylor, we want to make an impact. I mean, that's again why people come to Baylor is the opportunity to be good stewards of this opportunity to build in other people and also learn things and discover things that can actually make the world a better place. But it's been a helpful process try and talk about let's connect that. Let's try to make more explicit the outcomes, the impact that we're making on society. We've had conversations around this, and this is still a little bit big picture, but I'll tell you what we found out is that after we just kind of brainstormed in one of our strategic planning meetings, we found out that there are a lot of ... There's many faculty who are doing work in three areas. One is health and wellness and various aspects of that. You've had some of these people on your show, Kayleigh Hackney talking about pregnancy discrimination perhaps, or Don Carlson talking about different work family challenges or Cindy Wu talking about breaks. I mean, you've had these people who are talking about how to create a healthy workplace where people feel welcome and are well, but that's expanded across other departments as well. We're many people are doing research on wellness and how the workplace plays a big role in that. Health and wellness is one of these areas we realized we're doing a lot of good work in that area, we're known in that area. There'll be plenty other studies that don't fit in that category, but that's one where a lot of work is being done. Another one is in the area of economic development and poverty alleviation. We're trying to figure out how can business be a force for good in terms of improving people's lives through starting businesses, through having productive businesses that produce the goods and services that people need and are sustainable, but also how can you be sensitive to the disadvantaged and the folks who are maybe outside of opportunities that others have? How can we use business to give other people opportunities? Because we believe that business couldn't be that forced to actually help raise up everyone in a society if there are more jobs and more productive businesses. There's a lot of work going on in that area about economic development. Then third area is ethics. And maybe we could call it spiritual integration. Normally most universities won't touch the idea of spiritual integration, but they'll talk about ethics. And we have plenty in ethics, you mentioned Matt Quaid, David Schaff is doing some stuff about just different ways that entrepreneurs face ethical challenges. We have folks in accounting who are doing things about ethics and auditing like Mike Mochen is doing that. [inaudible] doing some work about ethics in IT and AI and things like that. We have a lot of people doing stuff in ethics. Then we have a few doing work in kind of explicitly spiritual topics. Colleague and I did some work about spiritual capital and its role in entrepreneurship, and those are harder to publish admittedly though, because the general journals are looking for more traditional topics and they kind of stay away from their taboo to talk about spiritual things. But we've tried to push that in some areas and there's been some receptivity to that. There's kind of three big areas we're really excited about and plenty that's outside of that. But I've just recently been compiling that list of look at all the work and research and service and other things that we're doing in those spaces. We hope that that'll be actually a ... Identifying that'll help us come up with new creative ideas in that space, and then also connect people who. are doing similar work, that will stimulate more great research
Derek Smith:Meeting with Mitch Neubert and Dr. Neubert, as we wind down here, final moments of the program, I want to ask you what's ahead? As you look on the horizon, as Hankamer continues to grow and expand, what are you most excited about? What possibilities most intrigue you?
Mitch Neubert:What's been really an exciting phase of our history to have Sandeep Mazumder as the Dean. And he's emphasized three areas that we've had some traction in. And again, we already had some work in these areas, but he's been focusing on purposeful research and experience for education, which is kind of getting the business world into the classroom and getting our students out into the business world. Then the last one is Christ-centered diversity. And that's part of our mission to be unique and distinct. Those are three areas where we're just, we have a lot of energy around trying to grow in those areas and improve for the sake of, again, putting out research that people care about. It's actually meeting societal kind of needs or answering questions that people have about the workplace and about businesses, as well as trying to really enhance our students' skillset by giving them more opportunities to do that real work before they get out there and they're in an internship or they have a job. We're excited about trying some new things there and even helping our faculty kind of skill up and learn about making those connections. We're always kind of connecting what we talk about, and theory's not a bad thing, actually. Good theory is very practical. We want to talk about theory, but then we want to make sure we connect that to practice and bringing in business speakers or getting students out to do consulting projects in the community, that's exciting. And we really want to grow that area as well. Then Christ-centered diversity is really just the idea of wanting to celebrate that this is ... We invite kind of everyone to come into the business school, right? And we want all people from different tribes, tongues, and nations if you refer to Revelations passages around that, to have opportunities to do good through business. We're just trying to make sure it's an accessible place, a welcoming place, and we're just taking our cue from scripture that God created diversity and the things he's celebrating and that we want to celebrate and affirm.
Derek Smith:That's exciting. We're looking forward to seeing a lot of those continue to grow and develop. And Dr. Neubert, really appreciate you taking the time. Thanks for taking us on a tour of research inside the Foster campus in the Hankamer School of Business.
Mitch Neubert:Yeah, my pleasure.
Derek Smith:Appreciate it. Dr. Mitch Neubert, Senior Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, Chavanne Chair of Christian Ethics in Business, and Professor of Management at Baylor's Hankamer School of Business, our guest today on Baylor Connections. I'm Derek Smith. Reminder, you can hear this in other programs online, baylor.edu/connections, and you can subscribe on iTunes. Thanks for joining us here on Baylor Connections.