This past fall, PhD students from around the world submitted interdisciplinary dissertation proposals to the inaugural dissertation proposal competition organized by the Center for Applied Research in Decision Making (CARD) and the Fox School’s Department of Marketing and co-sponsored by Ipsos. The CARD-Ipsos Dissertation Proposal Award winner was Tara Srirangarajan from Stanford University, and the second-place winner was Matt Meister from University of Colorado.
CARD will be hosting a virtual seminar on Wednesday, March 22, where the public can come and hear from the two winners to learn more about the future of marketing and where the applied research and decision-making field is heading.
The mission of CARD is to promote applied, interdisciplinary and multi-method research in decision-making and facilitate the translation of findings into actionable insights for business and society.
Consistent with this mission, the Fox School’s Vinod Venkatraman, associate professor of marketing and director of CARD, and his colleagues created a competition to recognize PhD student research that focuses not only on interesting scientific discovery but also on the practical application of their work and its translational value to the industry.
“We thought that running a dissertation proposal competition would be a good idea to encourage students working in the field and show them that there is value in the work that they do,” says Venkatraman. “The Fox School has also been developing a relationship with Ipsos after working on various joint projects, we thought it would be great to have an industry partner join us in sponsoring the competition. We reached out to them, and they were excited to be a part of the competition.”
The candidates who submitted their dissertations were at the post-comprehensive exam and dissertation state of their PhD programs. Many of the students came from prestigious universities across the globe.
“For the judgment portion of the competition, there was a committee of three judges: Fox School Marketing Professor Crystal Reeck, Fox School Accounting Professor Sudipta Basu and Global Lead of Neuroscience at Ipsos Manuel Garcia-Garcia,” says Venkatraman. “They were given the 16 proposals without anyone's name or institution attached, so they were purely evaluated on the merits of the proposal, the translational value, the impact for the business or society and the ability to use multi-methodological approaches.”
Reeck emphasized how excited the judges were about receiving proposals from around the world, as well as the work that was being done by the two winners of the competition.
“The first and second place winners really stood out because the novelty of the work that’s being pursued, as well as their vision for the future, were both something that we really wanted to respect and honor,” says Reeck. “For instance, Tara, the first-place winner, uses virtual reality techniques to try to investigate decision-making and how people respond to different types of environments. That can be a risky approach to take, but we wanted to honor the innovativeness behind this research.”
Reeck also stated how excited they are to showcase these projects publicly through the virtual seminar because they are at the forefront of innovation and visionary work in the field.
Though this is the first year of the competition, Venkatraman and his colleagues hope that the open forum where the winners share their research will encourage and motivate more students to submit their dissertation proposals to the competition in the future.
“Critically, we hope the competition forces young PhD students to think beyond academic publications about the translational impact of their research on business and society,” says Venkatraman.