Dennis and Zeshawn are working on a project to identify operational drivers of service cost and quality. In particular, they are using field-based data from a large financial services firm to examine factors that influence employees' decisions about how they allocate their time in providing service to customers and, ultimately, how these decisions influence service cost and quality.
Findings & Implications
Dennis: We are only at the beginning stages of this work. From an academic perspective, we expect the work to have an impact on models for managing tradeoffs between cost and quality in services. From a managerial perspective, we expect that the research will help practitioners to identify ways to improve service cost and quality at an operational level.
The Collaborative Process
Dennis: Our doctoral students are incredibly bright, enthusiastic, and passionate about doing research that will make a difference to both academics and management practice. I thoroughly enjoy working with Zeshawn and my other students. They bring great ideas and hard work to any research project that I have been involved with.
It's become apparent to me—having both been a doctoral student and now a faculty member at HBS—that the School’s model of faculty working simultaneously on traditional academic research and cases has tremendous spillover benefits for doctoral students. It ensures that our students have wide latitude in investigating business phenomena that interest them without having to feel overly constrained by publicly available data.
Faculty have built up a tremendous network of contacts with organizations in the private, nonprofit, and public sectors and are extremely helpful in connecting doctoral students with organizations that can provide unique field data for their research projects. HBS values research that has the potential to have a practical impact and in pursuit of this has been supporting faculty field-based research and case writing for decades.
Zeshawn: At HBS, professors take special care to ensure that projects are rewarding for students. This means giving students experience in particular research areas, helping students learn and apply new research methods, and expanding students' academic and research networks.
Research is such an integral part of academic life, that when professors work with doctoral students they are not simply delegating work, they are developing future colleagues. Further, working with professors provides experience and direction for students as they start their own research careers. Whether it is pointing out relevant background literature, proposing different econometric models, or suggesting write-up refinements, professors help doctoral students grow into the role of effective researchers.