It started as a casual conversation with a friend.
That is how Dr. Gordon Burtch, PHD ’13, says he decided to obtain his PhD in management information systems (MIS) at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. He was already working as a consultant with an undergraduate degree in software engineering. A doctoral degree, he thought, would help him harness the experiences he had in the business industry and explore research in an entrepreneurial way.
Today, he has received two of the top honors available to young scholars.
At the end of 2017, Burtch received both the Early-Career Award from the Association of Information Systems and the Sandra A. Slaughter Early Career Award from the INFORMS Information Systems Society. Both awards recognize individuals in the early stages of their careers who have already greatly contributed to the field of information systems through research, teaching, or service.
As an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, Burtch focuses on understanding what drives people to contribute online—such as supporting a crowdfunding campaign or donating to a charity. He analyzes website data to model and predict consumer behavior, explores social factors like the influence of peer groups, and designs interventions that aim to encourage people to get involved in online campaigns.
While Burtch says these awards are quite the honor, he credits his experience at the Fox School with much of his success today.
“I was given the freedom to explore collaborations with whomever I wanted,” Burtch explains. After multiple collaborative research efforts, including with senior associate dean of research Paul Pavlou, Burtch found his niche working with Dr. Sunil Wattal, associate professor in the MIS department.
In working with Wattal, Burtch discovered an interest in econometrics and was able to expand his research expertise under the guidance of his mentor. Being at the Fox School, he says, gave him resources and ability to experiment until he found his forte.
Now, Burtch is seen as an emerging leader in his field. Not only is he dedicated to his research efforts, but he also takes time to mentor students. “I always tell my students,” he says, “to start from the business problem first and work backwards.”
While the awards are an honor, Burtch is not complacent. His research direction is constantly evolving, but Burtch hopes to expand his research to support the public good. He plans to apply his insights to stimulate positive social behaviors, such as encouraging people to volunteer or donate money to charities.