Bentley University's Research Agenda
This is a challenging time for higher education. After years of steep cost rises, university education is beyond the reach of many. In a still struggling economy, employment opportunities appear not to justify the heavy burden of student loans. Students, parents, politicians, and the public at large question the value of a college education. University-based research, frequently attacked for lack of practical relevance, is increasingly seen as a costly non-essential.
There is no question that university-based research is costly. A measure of that cost can be seen in the accompanying table, which summarizes the external support that Bentley faculty members and doctoral students have received in recent years from grants and contracts from government agencies, private foundations, and industry sources. But Bentley also provides considerable internal support for research in the form of our excellent library and digital resources, our doctoral program, conference registration fees and travel expenses for faculty and doctoral students, faculty sabbaticals, and seed funding for new research development and grant writing. So, if university-based research is truly non-essential for high quality higher education, it is costly indeed!
This is a very good time for us to ask what value research provides to Bentley’s students, their parents, and society. In part, that question can be answered by pointing to the roles that research plays in a university’s mission. Research plays at least four important roles for the Bentley community and our external stakeholders.
- Research is a part of Bentley’s undergraduate and graduate curriculum. Contrary to popular belief, research is not something done only by faculty members and doctoral students and that keeps them out of the classroom. Many Bentley undergraduate and masters’ students work with faculty members in and out of the classroom on relevant research projects.
- Research can be thought of as “continuing education” for the Bentley faculty – it helps keep faculty members current with the ever-growing fund of world knowledge.
- Research is needed to develop and refresh courses and programs of study to meet changing societal and business needs.
- Research results in new knowledge and creative works that are documented (in journal articles, books, and other media) and shared with the world.
This new knowledge adds to the global fund, is used by educators and students around the globe, and contributes to societal welfare and economic development. In business terms, research not only supports a university’s educational mission but also generates knowledge “products” that are valuable in their own right.
But saying that university-based research is valuable is one thing. Describing the value and impact of research at Bentley is something else. And developing a strategy to increase the value and impact of research at Bentley in the future is something else again. These are challenging goals, toward which our research is only a first step. We look at our collective research accomplishments with the aim of celebrating what we have achieved and encouraging thoughtful reflection on the future.
In bare numbers, the research accomplishments of Bentley faculty members and doctoral students are impressive. The accompanying table documents, for the previous five academic years and the current year to date, our academic publications in various publication outlets. Each type of outlet is important for Bentley because each academic disciplines these differently. In the humanities, scholarly books are the most highly regarded type of publication. In the sciences, the proceedings of certain conferences are especially important. In the business fields, peer-reviewed academic journals are the preferred outlet for discipline-oriented academic research. In fact, a school’s publications in the highest-rated business journals are a significant factor in business school rankings. That is why publications in top-rated business journals are shown as a separate item in the table.
Included in the site is a list of honors and awards earned by Bentley faculty members in recent years. This listing, together with the previously mentioned external research funding, gives a good indication of the cumulative value and impact of Bentley research.
To round out this picture, we provide a more descriptive overview of the scholarly activities of Bentley faculty members and students in the next section of the website. Brief descriptions of the research focus of each of Bentley's seventeen academic departments are followed by two or more short sketches of the scholarly work done by their members. These summaries give a good flavor of the diversity, relevance, and impact of Bentley scholarship.
Student research is also featured that gives an overview of our doctoral programs, examples of research of current PhD students and recent graduates, and a few highlights of research by Bentley undergraduates and masters’ students. The final section of the research website describes Bentley’s centers and institutes, which provide essential support for the research of Bentley faculty members and students.
In my view, three characteristics of Bentley's research stand out:
- It is practically relevant as well as rigorous. Our researchers both in the business departments and in the arts and sciences are concerned about the major problems in business and society today and are seeking new insights to help address them.
- It is diverse in terms of scholarship type. A significant portion of our research output appears in the academically oriented publications valued by different disciplines (whether peer-reviewed journal articles, scholarly books, or conference proceedings). In addition, our faculty and students contribute to the scholarship of education and curriculum development. Among other products, Bentley scholars have produced leading textbooks in a number of fields. Bentley scholarship also emphasizes engagement with the local community, with industry leaders, with national policy makers, and with international communities and groups. Because of this diversity of scholarship, our research can never be just about the numbers of publications in prestigious journals, conferences, or university presses.
- It is often characterized by the term trans-disciplinary. The key problems of today’s world do not fit neatly within the boundaries of single academic disciplines. Effective responses to these challenges will require creative collaborations across the business disciplines and the arts and sciences. For instance, in fall 2013, the Bentley Research Council sponsored a colloquium on “Responsible Innovation.” In addition to two external keynote speakers, the colloquium featured 29 Bentley faculty members and doctoral students (not counting their collaborators!) from twelve of Bentley’s seventeen departments who presented their research in three major domains of responsible innovation: environmental sustainability, financial accountability, and ICT ethics. Future research colloquia at Bentley will continue to engage a large cross-section of the Bentley community.
As chair of Bentley’s Research Council, I am deeply pleased to offer this impressive evidence of our collective research accomplishments, and I am greatly excited by our promising future.
M. Lynne Markus
John W. Poduska Senior Professor of Information and Process Management,
Chair of the Bentley Research Council
Bentley Research Council Members
Jean Bedard, Timothy B. Harbert Professor of Accountancy
Pierre Berthon, Clifford F. Youse Chair of Marketing & Strategy
Marcia Cornett, Robert & Julia Dorn Professor of Finance
Professor Dhaval Dave, Economics
Beverley Earle, Gregory H. Adamian Professor of Law
Robert Galliers, Bentley University Distinguished Professor
Professor Jennifer Gillan, English and Media Studies
Professor Fred Ledley, Natural and Applied Sciences, Director, Center for ISI
Associate Professor Tatiana Manolova, Management
M. Lynne Markus, John W. Poduska Senior Professor of Information and Process Management, Council Chair
Professor Victoria Steblovskaya, Mathematical Science
Professor Cyrus Veeser, History
Professor Christine Williams, Global Studies
Professor Daniel Everett, Dean of Arts & Sciences
Dr. Phillip Knutel, Executive Director Academic Technology, the Library and Online Learning
Professor Vicki Lafarge, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Professor Michael Quinn, Economics, Interim Director PhD Program
Professor Roy (Chip) Wiggins III, Dean of Business
Professor William Wiggins, Law, Tax and Financial Planning, Research Council Coordinator