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Darla Moore School of Business

Four Moore School faculty among top 1 percent of worldwide researchers

Moore School faculty members Paul Bliese, Tatiana Kostova, Robert Ployhart and Patrick Wright are included in the top 1 percent of all management professors worldwide in terms of their scholarly impact, according to a comprehensive database of 100,000 top scientists.

Using a standardized citation index, a professor from Stanford University and his colleagues have developed a comprehensive database of 100,000 top scientists across 22 scientific fields and 176 subfields.

The Moore School is distinguished by having four non-emeritus faculty members within the top 1 percent of scientists in the business and management subfield in the database. Out of 475 institutions identified in the database, only 65 institutions have four or more top scientists on the faculty, which positions the Moore School among an elite group of researchers.

Read below as Bliese, Kostova, Ployhart and Wright discuss what drew them to their specific research topics and why their research matters from a big-picture perspective.

Paul Bliese, the Moore School's Jeff B. Bates Professor of Management

What drew you to your specific research field/topic?
A lot of my work focuses on ways organizations can use statistics to make better decisions and support employees.  I was drawn to this type of research because my experience was that organizations spend considerable time and effort collecting data, but these efforts often produced limited insights. I felt that different ways of looking at data might help produce valuable insights.

Why is your research valuable/critical big picture?
Researchers in academic settings have opportunities to see best practices in terms of data analytics and in applying analytic results across firms. Because we have this broad perspective, I think we are in a rather unique position to help spread ideas through teaching and in working with partner firms.  While publishing in top journals is important, it is equally gratifying to see large firms fundamentally improve some human resources practice or other type of practice based on input from academic partners.

Tatiana Kostova, a Carolina Distinguished Professor, the Moore School's Buck Mickel Endowed Chair and a professor of international business; she also works with the Center for International Business for Education and Research

What drew you to your specific research field/topic?
My research agenda and scholarly identity were shaped by a set of circumstances:

  • Opportunity to closely study several high-level multinational companies (MNCs) in my early career, including 3M, Cargill, Nissan, Novartis and others. The field work I did in those companies exposed me to the enormous management complexity they faced when conducting business across borders; I was fascinated by the challenges global managers had to deal with on a daily basis as well as by the positive economic and social role these companies played in communities in different countries around the world. I was also lucky to meet many smart and dedicated global managers who were willing to share their knowledge and help me develop new understandings on practical issues they were facing in their jobs.
  • Training in strategic management and organization, plus a cognate in sociology and psychology, in one of the most rigorous Ph.D. programs in business administration in the U.S. — the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. The theoretical perspectives I learned there allowed me to better understand and systematize the challenges and opportunities faced by MNCs. The methodological training I received equipped me for rigorous studies.
  • Rich and extremely diverse personal background and experiences — born, raised and educated initially in Eastern Europe and then more education in the U.S. I also lived/studied/worked for extended periods of time in several countries in different world regions — Austria, Ukraine, Mexico, Hong Kong, etc. I was also educated and trained in several fields including mathematics, cybernetics, computer programming in my early professional career followed by the education in economics and business administration later on. This provided a lot of insights into interesting research questions, for example about cross-country differences, organizational complexity, interaction between society, firms, individuals and others.

Why is your research valuable/critical big picture?
In a nutshell, my research provides insights on a range of relevant issues:

  • What is distinct and key in managing a multinational company (MNC) versus a domestic one
  • What are the competitive advantages of MNCs compared to domestic firms and how are they created and sustained over time
  • How are MNCs, their strategies and organization shaped by their external environments, including political order, economic conditions, institutions and culture
  • How can MNCs overcome the various “distances” (i.e., differences) when doing business in multiple countries? 
  • Best practices in cross-border transfer of knowledge, managing MNC legitimacy, agency issues between headquarters and subsidiaries of MNCs
  • Comparative management including corporate governance, family firms and state-owned enterprises
  • The Corporate Social Responsibility agenda of MNCs including CSR performance, reporting and contracting; CSR in global supply chains and in emerging market firms.

Robert Ployhart, Bank of America Professor of Business Administration and management and Master of Human Resources professor

What drew you to your specific research field/topic?
My research interests have been largely shaped by practical experiences working with organizations and trying to solve THEIR problems and challenges. But my interests have also been shaped by personal experiences, good and bad, relating to job search, hiring and development. If I see something that is problematic, I have to try to improve it or make it better.

Why is your research valuable/critical big picture?
I do research that empirically demonstrates the business value of talent. Every leader says talent is their most important resource; but in my research I try to put substance behind such claims. My research uses advanced analytics to show how, when, why and where talent drives key business metrics such as productivity, profit and growth.

Patrick Wright, Thomas C. Vandiver Bicentennial Chair, director of the Center for Executive Succession and management and Master of Human Resources professor

What drew you to your specific research field/topic?
I got interested in human resource management because it was a field that fit with my worldview of seeing the imago dei in all people, meaning they have inherent value and dignity. Given that view, it seemed to make sense to me that organizations that treat people with dignity and respect would probably be more effective than those that treat people as simply a form of capital to be used toward some financial end. So, much of my research focuses on how firms could use people as a source of competitive advantage, particularly through using HR practices that reinforce their value and dignity. So, many of my published papers seek to theoretically and empirically explore how the HR practices firms use results in higher financial performance.  

Why is your research valuable/critical big picture?
We see a more visible debate today regarding whether firms should take a “stakeholder” versus “stockholder” view of how they manage their business. To some extent, this may come off as an either/or trade-off, but I’ve hoped to show in my research that investing in employees through creating positive work and work environments, training them and treating them as partners in the organization elevates their psychological, social and economic wellbeing while also resulting in increased customer and shareholder outcomes.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.