A Force for Innovation
By unearthing new insights through research and teaching future professionals, Carlson School faculty drive business forward.
Their areas of expertise span the areas of consumer behavior, data analytics, entrepreneurship, human resources, strategy, and much more. Organizations around the world utilize their research to make crucial decisions, while students rely on them to break down challenging concepts and encourage skill development.
But competition for these leading thinkers, teachers, and researchers—both promising young scholars and mid-career standouts—is intense, and the growth of new degree programs and our undergraduate population increases demand. To maintain our high standards for educational excellence and continue to support research that addresses genuine business challenges, we must secure and retain high-caliber faculty.
When David Schoeder, CFANS ’79, was young, he struggled in school. Growing up with dyslexia, he says he saw things backwards. Upon arriving at the University of Minnesota to study Agricultural Economics, he enrolled in courses at the business school in finance with Professor Timothy Nantell. He credits Nantell with helping him to figure out how to approach complex analytical problems in a way that worked for him – backwards.
“Professor Nantell gave me a framework that allowed me to absorb and evaluate large amounts of the financial data,” says Schoeder. “Dr. Nantell’s finance courses connected all the dots for me.”
After graduating from the U in 1979, Schoeder spent several years working in investment banking and finance before founding The Food Partners, an investment firm in the food and grocery industry, where he is principal. Schoeder says he’s trained analysts to evaluate deals utilizing the same framework he learned from Professor Nantell, and industry models have been built based on the analytical tools Nantell taught him.
Schoeder is grateful for the great experience and skills he gained at the Carlson School and University of Minnesota, and the success they have enabled in his career, which motivated him to give back. “I want to help other teachers learn from [Nantell’s] success,” says Schoeder.
In 2014, Schoeder established the Professor Timothy J. Nantell Fund for Excellence in Teaching, which awards grants to support innovative teaching by rising faculty stars. While Professor Nantell has now retired from full-time teaching at Carlson, Schoeder’s generous gift ensures that his influence and legacy of excellence in teaching carries on.Dr. Nantell’s finance courses connected all the dots for me. I want to help other teachers learn from his success.
Thanks to a grant from software company Adobe, two Carlson School researchers are on the cutting edge of helping brands design and deliver more effective video advertisements that resonate with their target consumers.
Information and Decision Sciences Assistant Professors Soumya Sen and Gordon Burtch were awarded the Data Science Research Award from Adobe. The award comes with a $50,000 grant to support their work and opportunities for direct collaboration with Adobe.
“We appreciate all of the support Adobe has given us,” Sen says. “It shows to us that the work we’re doing is of value to companies. It’s not some abstract research that we’re doing. It really has an impact, and that’s why industries are willing to sponsor an academic project like this.”
Sen and Burtch won the award with their proposal, “Designing Effective Ad-Video Delivery Strategies.” The goal of this research is to understand if and how incentives for watching or engaging with online advertisements change consumer behavior.
Online advertising is often viewed as distracting by audiences, and the brand recall on these ads is typically low because people don’t want to engage with them. By incentivizing consumers with rewards such as money, Sen and Burtch are exploring if those incentives increase brand awareness and engagement with the ads.
Sen and Burtch are running experiments to see, for instance, how much money it might take for somebody to watch a 30-second advertisement. They’ll also explore how much that price point shifts depending on how long the ads are and how much incentives it may take somebody to share the ad on social media.
Some companies are already doing something similar. For instance, some cell phone companies will allow users to get their data back if they watch sponsored content and some airports will allow you to watch an ad and get a certain amount of free Wi-Fi access.
“Ultimately, we want to create a platform or ecosystem where advertisers can subsidize users for engaging with their advertisements,” Sen says.
The award from Adobe allows the team to recruit more people to help them and carry out these experiments. The gift is unique in that a company is helping sponsor the project. Because of this award, the Carlson School team has met with Adobe, and the two teams have been able to collaborate with each other.
That collaboration has benefited both the Carlson School and Adobe. Anil Kamath, fellow and vice president of technology for Adobe, says the company is excited to partner with the Carlson School because of how impactful this type of research can be.
“Adobe’s collaboration with universities like Carlson School of Management to promote the understanding and use of data science in customer experience is invaluable,” Kamath says. “At Adobe, we’re focused on developing technologies that advance digital experiences, and our work with academia provides theoretical and empirical solutions to problems that not only inform our Adobe Experience Cloud products, but spur new ideas where real-world impact can be made for years to come. Carlson School of Management’s research is focused on an important need in the advertising industry—how-to design effective ad-video delivery strategies. This has the potential to help companies drive growth and orchestrate amazing customer experiences.”
The grant is one of nine awarded biannually by Adobe to top researchers across the country.We appreciate all of the support Adobe has given us. It shows to us that the work we’re doing is of value to companies. It’s not some abstract research that we’re doing. It really has an impact, and that’s why industries are willing to sponsor an academic project like this.
Few believe in “Business as a Force for Good” more than Anne Tsui.
As a business school professor, she’s seen firsthand the impact a professor can have on the students they teach. But the further she got into her career, the more she saw how most of the research being done at business schools focused on how to turn a profit, many times at the expense of the large stakeholders.
Tsui wanted to change that. She established the Dare to Care Award at the Carlson School, which encourages doctoral students to conduct research that not only improves a company’s operations, but also does right by their employees and better serves their customers.
The first Dare to Care Award was given in 2013 as a way to “assist advanced PhD students who have shown dedication to conducting research that will bring value to society, beyond providing good careers for themselves.”
“The award is to encourage students to look at business problems that would be beneficial to society as a whole and to encourage caring of groups that are less powerful in a business environment,” Tsui says.
Doctoral students play a vital role in the Carlson School community. Not only do they take part in groundbreaking research, they also teach young business students.
“The students are being trained to become the professors and researchers in different schools worldwide. They will be in a very powerful position to lead the future development of both the next generation of students, as well as businesses through their research,” she says. “We want to train our PhD students not only how to teach and what to teach, but also why to teach and why to do research.”
Tsui received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota-Duluth before coming to the Carlson School and earning a master’s degree in industrial relations.
Now living in Arizona, Tsui says although she hasn't been back to the state of Minnesota in quite some time, she still feels a connection and considers it “home.”
“I remember my time in Minnesota, and at the Carlson School, very fondly,” she says. “That’s a big reason why I wanted to give back.
With the Carlson School now focusing its efforts on “Business as a Force for Good,” Tsui says she couldn’t be happier to support the school and its mission.
“It tells me that the Carlson School, as a whole, dares to care,” she says. “It is entirely consistent with the vision of the Dare to Care PhD Award that business research can be a force for good by identifying business practices that contribute to the wellbeing of stakeholders beyond the shareholders.”We want to train our PhD students not only how to teach and what to teach, but also why to teach and why to do research.