The National Black MBA Association annual conference, held in early September in Washington, D.C., brings together a Who’s Who assemblage of top African-American business leaders. The recent gathering honored Gen. Colin Powell as MBA of the Year, and featured Earvin “Magic” Johnson and motivational speaker and psychologist Dr. Robin Smith.
The University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business was well-represented with Ph.D candidate Demetra Andrews honored at the conference as one of two winners of the NBMBAA’s prestigious Fellowship Competition. Andrews, a doctoral candidate in Marketing, was awarded $12,500 for her plan to encourage more collaboration between minority scholars and corporate business leaders via an online portal.
One the site proposed by Andrews, industry representatives could state their research needs in order to be linked with scholars with a level of expertise and interest in those areas. With profiles of each — companies seeking research, and scholars seeking a corporate structure in order to conduct research — the portal would allow cross-searches and ultimately help facilitate important relationships between the two groups, Andrews says.
“There can be mismatched skill sets between corporate entities and university personnel in a community,” says Andrews. After working for United Airlines, American Airlines and Mobil Oil Co. in the areas of international marketing, marketing strategy, internet marketing and corporate finance, she has been on both sides of the fence. “Often the ways of connecting are haphazard, and a portal could make alliances happen more easily and quickly.”
Andrews’ proposal would also “increase the currency” wielded by minority faculty, she says, strengthening their position in the market. While the number of minority students and faculty at business schools is on the rise, they are still under-represented in top administrative positions such as Dean, Assistant Dean and other key leadership roles. There are only five African-American deans of research-oriented business schools in the U.S., Andrews notes (one, Dr. Eli Jones, Dean of Louisiana State University’s E. J. Ourso College of Business, is a former Associate Dean at Bauer).
Andrews cites research by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) which indicates stagnation at the top levels of academia. “That is where you have a lot more influence,” Andrews says.
One function of the proposed website would be to encourage pursuit of market-relevant research topics for publication in scholarly journals while simultaneously boosting the visibility of colleagues conducting the research.
“Several journal editors have called for an increase in research on topics that are relevant to marketing practice,” Andrews says. An online portal that encourages a dialogue between corporate and academic worlds could help make that happen more easily and more often.
Andrews earned her undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University and an MBA at the University of Texas. She decided to obtain her doctoral degree from Bauer in part because of the openness and accessibility of faculty here. An overall collaborative and genial atmosphere prevailed, she says, with each faculty member offering good suggestions for her field of study, behavioral research.
“I was just blown away,” Andrews says, recalling her first impression. “I immediately felt that I could enjoy my doctoral studies here and be successful.”
While Andrews is interested in finding a corporate sponsor to help create and maintain the website she envisions, her own research concerns decision-making. Specifically, she investigates when and how uncertainty, such as that created by numerous alternatives and overwhelming information, continues to influence consumer behavior even after a choice has been made.
By Julie Bonnin
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.
About the Bauer College of Business
The C.T. Bauer College of Business has been in operation for more than 60 years at the University of Houston main campus. Through its five academic departments, the college offers a full-range of undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees in business. The Bauer College is fully accredited by the AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In August 2000, Houston business leader and philanthropist Charles T. (Ted) Bauer endowed the College of Business with a $40 million gift. In recognition of his generosity, the college was renamed the C.T. Bauer College of Business.