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Fox School Launches Translational Research Center to Unite Research and Industry

March 6th, 2018

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Alter Hall, Home of the Fox School of BusinessLook around. They are in newspapers and social media feeds. They are online and on scrolling news tickers, too.

Almost daily, you’ll see splashy headlines announcing the latest scientific-research findings—from groundbreaking disease cures, to solutions for cell-phone addiction and possible causes of global warming.

Rarely, if ever, are real-world applications of business-school research given such a high-profile platform. Temple University’s Fox School of Business is hoping to alter that reality with the launch of a center designed to bring impact to the forefront of business-school research. Next week, the Fox School will host a workshop on March 12 to bring together industry leaders and top journal editors to start the conversation on driving real impact with scholarly research.

The Fox School’s Translational Research Center is the first of its kind nationally to attempt the alignment of business-school research produced by Fox’s award-winning faculty with critical problems of the industry and to communicate it quickly and effectively to practitioners and executives.

Why hasn’t such an endeavor been launched? There are multiple reasons, says Dr. Charles Dhanaraj, the Fox School’s H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest Professor of Strategy. Conventionally, business-school research is produced by faculty looking to earn tenure status, or as a mechanism to support the school’s reputation. Faculty often gauge the success of their research based upon the journal within which it’s published and the volume of citations it receives.

“Business schools need to go beyond academic citations; they need to create real impact on business and on policy,” said Dhanaraj, the center’s founding director. “That being said, the Fox School has more than 210 full-time faculty in a variety of research disciplines, which means we are uniquely positioned to accomplish those traditional research goals, too.”

“Everyone in academia discusses impact,” said Dr. M. Moshe Porat, the Fox School’s Dean. “How you define impact and how you measure impact takes time. We are moving in that direction. Our school has the agile, entrepreneurial faculty to take the lead in shaping the future of business school research—and not just ours, but for everyone.”

The Fox School’s Translational Research Center will focus on four dimensions of impact: academia, students, business, and society. The center enables faculty to broaden their scholarship portfolio and support them in stretching their reach.

Typically, translational research is linked to fields of medicine and science. This approach bridges multiple disciplines, as practitioners and academics work together to uncover new and innovative medicines and treatments.

Fox’s Translational Research Center will operate under a similar construct, Dhanaraj said.

“Think of it as push and pull,” Dhanaraj said. “We want to tap into the needs of industry to pull in their problems to drive our faculty research, and we want to push actionable insights in the most effective way back to the business community, as quickly as possible. Our mission is to change the way everyone thinks about business school research. We don’t want to simply overcome the perception of lack of relevance, but really demonstrate that research creates substantive value. By increasing the engagement of faculty with business executives, the Translational Research Center will ensure that our researchers are asking the right questions, and that they are producing their research in a way that it can be consumed by academic peers and leading practitioners.”

Eventually, the Fox School will house the Translational Research Center in 1810 Liacouras Walk. That space is currently under renovation. The Fox School’s expansion across Liacouras Walk is happening in conjunction with the school’s centennial. For now, the center operates out of Dhanaraj’s office.

“Between the center, our school’s expansion, and our 100-year anniversary, it is an exciting time to be at the Fox School,” he said.

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