Researcher in Residence Program Builds Bridges Between Theory and Practice

In the Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) program, industry insights and research acumen meet. A new program in the marketing department amplifies the impact of DBA research.

Thomas Dammrich (BA ’74, MBA ’78, MS ’85, DBA ’19), Research in Residence.

Thomas Dammrich (BA ’74, MBA ’78, MS ’85, DBA ’19), Research in Residence.

When industry experience and academic research join forces, both fields benefit. This is a core tenet of the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program at DePaul’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. It’s the same principle that led Associate Professor of Marketing Richard Rocco to establish the Researcher in Residence program within the Department of Marketing.

Rocco, who teaches in the DBA program, saw firsthand how industry experience amplifies the impact of research, first through writing his own dissertation while working full-time and later through advising DBA students.

Rocco launched the Researcher in Residence program in Fall 2022 based on feedback from DBA alumni. These researchers wanted to amplify the impact of their work and publish it in peer-reviewed journals where it could reach a wider audience.

To do that, they needed access to university resources, ranging from databases and data sets to Kellstadt’s vast network of faculty, students and alumni.

The program provides access to these resources. The university, Rocco says, will benefit in return. Faculty and current DBA students will gain new collaborators. As researchers publish more widely, their work will extend the reach of Kellstadt and DePaul.

As the program enters its second year, all three researchers in the inaugural cohort have returned for another year. They represent a wide range of fields.

Chris Hansen (MBA ’98, DBA ’21), vice president of university partnerships at Everspring, has over 25 years of experience in educational technology, where he has helped senior administration and faculty bring their offerings to life online.

Tammy Higgins (DBA ’18), a consult partner at Kyndryl, brings more than 35 years of experience in the information technology (IT) industry to her research on IT sales strategies.

And Thomas Dammrich (BA ’74, MBA ’78, MS ’85, DBA ’19) earned his DBA after more than 20 years as CEO of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

As for Rocco, he hopes that the program as it exists now is just a starting point. The model could easily expand to other departments and programs, he says.

“We have a wealth of resources in our DBAs,” he adds. “This is a way to expand on that. It’s a way for DePaul to get our name out there. It’s a way to influence the conversation. You never know where those kinds of connections might lead.”

Researcher in residence Q&A

Thomas Dammrich reflects on his research and its impact and how the Researcher in Residence program helped him expand on that work.

College of Business: Give me the elevator pitch for the research you conducted for your DBA. How are you building on this work as a researcher in residence?

Dammrich: I worked in an industry where manufacturers and dealers do not advertise the price of boats for sale. You can only find this out by speaking with a boat dealer or attending a boat show.

Every model of the consumer purchase journey includes an evaluation phase. Much has been written about other aspects of that phase. But very little, if any, empirical work has been done to understand what happens to consumers’ path to purchase when an objective price is not available.

I designed my dissertation research to address that gap in the literature.

As a researcher in residence, I have been working with DePaul faculty to extend and publish the results of my work in a Tier 1 or 2 academic journal. Not only have we identified a gap in the literature, we also believe we can provide practical advice to practitioners.

College of Business: How did your industry experience influence your research?

Dammrich: Because of my knowledge of the industry, my relationships with many industry players and the willingness of a third-party website that was a significant resource for consumers shopping for new boats, I was able to design and conduct a field experiment with random assignment. This form of research provides the opportunity to learn causation, not just correlation.

The third-party website believed the industry would sell more boats if prices were more available on their website. They were eager to help me gather evidence to test this proposition. And because of my relationships with the CEOs of many boat builders and dealers, I was able to get them to agree to participate in an experiment where price was randomly shown or not shown to visitors to the third-party website.

My research confirmed that displaying price increases search, leads and purchase intent.

College of Business: How has the Researcher in Residence program allowed you to further collaborate with the DePaul community?

Dammrich: I was delighted to be invited to be part of the Researcher in Residence program. I had been working closely with Richard Rocco to publish an article related to my dissertation. As we began this effort, I quickly realized that I was at a disadvantage because, after graduation from the DBA program, I no longer had access to library resources, Qualtrics and other necessary tools. The Researcher in Residence program gives me access to those resources.

The program also allowed Dr. Rocco and me to speak with other faculty about what we were working on. Associate Professor of Marketing Zafar Iqbal has joined our team and contributed excellent recommendations that extend the analysis to create an article that should be of great interest to academia and practitioners.

College of Business: How is the Researcher in Residence program allowing you to amplify the impact of your research on industry?

Dammrich: One of the primary goals of the DBA program is to cross the chasm between academic research and practitioner implementation. By bringing additional faculty, Dr. Iqbal, and new perspectives to our work, I am confident we will be able to publish our work in a journal read by academics and practitioners alike.

The research I did for my dissertation has a high level of relevance for industry while addressing a gap in the literature that should be of interest to the academic research community. Getting the results published in a peer-reviewed journal, which is our goal, will significantly magnify the impact of the research I did for my DBA dissertation.

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