Research plays a large role in the business world, but how? Our Kenan Scholars were able to learn more about research in the business world on Nov. 6 at the “What is Business Research?” workshop. In this second of a series of workshops taking place this year, students from the Kenan-Flagler Business School — including the newly admitted Kenan Scholars class of 2023 and MBA Kenan scholars class of 2022 — heard from professors Brad Hendricks and Breagin Riley, as well as PhD student Andre Martin and Postdoctoral Research Associate Ayana Younge about their experiences in research.
Our students learned that business research is unique in that it goes beyond the bottom line of making money. Dr. Riley pointed out that research in business seeks to understand “outcomes like persuasion, like voting, like market share, like choice.” Dr. Hendricks added that business research is about creating new knowledge and hopefully removing some of the bias that exists in other research areas. At the end of conducting business research, the information gleaned is given to businesses so that they can improve.
The panel also stressed the importance of relationship building in research. Whether conducting research as an undergraduate or a graduate student, Andre encouraged students to do research not with the most prestigious professor, but with the professor that you are most compatible personality-wise. If you aren’t comfortable giving the professor you are conducting research with bad news three meetings in a row, Andre said you most likely are not compatible with this professor. Dr. Hendricks also provided feedback on how to best approach a professor whom you want to act as a mentor during your research. He encouraged scholars to provide professors with direct information on what the student expects from the professor because professors have a hard time making an open-ended commitment to be a mentor.
As a researcher, you are also gaining valuable skills. Ayana compared her experience as a researcher to the entrepreneurial process. She said research is like building a company from the ground up, and it is very self-driven. Because of this, as a researcher, you’re developing and enhancing your creativity, critical thinking and time management skills. Dr. Riley added that researchers also learn critical listening skills because they often have to perform one small, specific task as part of a research team and that requires listening to instructions.
Whether our scholars are taking the opportunity to join a professor in their research or embarking on the process of an honors thesis, the panel gave valuable advice on conducting their research. Dr. Hendricks advised that the research you conduct should be on a topic you are interested in as often that research extends into what you research for the rest of your career. Dr. Breagin also suggested getting your research project as narrow as possible so that you can accomplish it within the time scholars have to complete their research as well as talking to as many people as you can while doing your research to get different opinions and perspectives.
The panel provided great advice to our business students who are eager to embark on their research.