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Warrington management department conference facilitates connection, advances research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The management department at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business brought about 25 researchers together from universities across the nation for a special conference on research methodologies in strategic management. The small conference setting was critical for facilitating connection on important topics related to research.

“Small conferences like this are helpful to facilitate discussions about topics, generally, but are critical for methods in particular,” explained Associate Professor of Management Aaron Hill.

The ability for researchers to connect on certain methods, like those based in artificial intelligence, are particularly important Hill notes.

Aaron Hill and Jarrod Humphrey

Associate Professor of Management Aaron Hill and Management Ph.D. student Jarrod Humphrey.

“Analytical tools are constantly advancing so it is important to stay up to date on the best methods. At the same time, newer methods may be slow to have broader dissemination to the field, so bringing people to share and help spread the advancements is helpful.”

In addition to topics like using AI in management research, the inaugural conference included presentations on topics like how to better research methodologies in the field and modeling firm performance.

Warrington management Ph.D. student Jarrod Humphrey presented at the conference knowing that the attending individuals, many of whom are editors of top journals, were uniquely equipped to determine how he could improve upon his work to deliver maximum benefit to research and practice.

The research topic he presented focuses on the inconsistent findings in the academic study of entrepreneurship and the framework he and his co-authors developed to help scholars and practitioners determine what type of entrepreneurial activity they are studying.

“There is a commonly held belief that entrepreneurs are more tolerant of risk than everyday managers,” Humphrey explained. “However, evidence exists that both supports and refutes this claim. My co-authors and I argue that inconsistencies persist in entrepreneurship research stemming from disagreements about what it means to be entrepreneurial.”

This question is critical to the field because, as Humphrey explained, while serial founders of technology companies and first-time founders of a local restaurant are both entrepreneurs, the traits, characteristics and decision-making patters of these entrepreneurs are vastly different.

After presenting his research, Humphrey said that he benefitted tremendously from the feedback he received. Specifically, the audience of other researchers recommended how he could sharpen the arguments made in the paper to better achieve the researchers’ objectives.

“For example, the researchers present during my talk suggested illustrative real-world examples that I could use in my research paper to demonstrate the value of the framework.”

For Sana Zafar, a Ph.D. candidate from Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business, attending the conference was a great opportunity make meaningful connections with scholars in the field and learn about the latest methods in strategic management research.

Mo Wang and Saby Mitra.

Associate Dean for Research Mo Wang and Warrington College of Business Dean Saby Mitra.

“Due to [the conference’s] small size, there were plenty of opportunities to have one on one interaction with scholars from different universities,” Zafar said. “The discussions were all very constructive and there was a great exchange of ideas during breaks. For me, this conference set the stage for future research collaborations and for that I am very grateful!”

Zafar also noted how she was looking forward to bringing the insights she gained at the conference back to her work at Auburn.

“It is one thing to read about different data analysis methods and tools, but it is a completely different experience learning firsthand from scholars who understand these methods so well,” she said. “After the conference, I am inspired by the different tools we, as scholars, have access to and can use to examine the business world around us. Most importantly, I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of a community where knowledge is shared so willingly.”

Warrington’s Associate Dean for Research and chair of the management department Mo Wang noted that the small-conference setting was important for future research and hopes to continue the conference as an annual event to contribute to the research branding of the department’s strategic management track.

“Hosting small conference offers a great opportunity for scholars to have intimate research exchange on a pre-selected topic, which can facilitate research idea generation and gauge efficient feedback,” Wang said. “Bringing experts from different geographic regions to the Gator Nation also helps showcase our research excellence and promote Warrington’s research reputation.”

Warrington College of Business Dean Saby Mitra echoed Wang’s thoughts on the importance of small conferences to facilitate research advancement.

“As a community of scholars, we must ensure that our research has greater impact on the practice of management,” Mitra said. “Small conferences on focused topics that bring together prominent scholars from around the country provide a fantastic venue for such discussions. I hope the participants returned from Gainesville with renewed vigor and exciting ideas on how to make our research even more impactful.”