For decades, business schools have been discussing how to translate the insights of academic research into real-world solutions to industry and societal problems. To address this issue head-on and truly move the needle of impact, the Fox School recently founded the Translational Research Center. 

Charles Dhanaraj is the executive director of the center, an H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest Professor of Strategy and executive director of the Executive Doctorate in Business Administration program. 

Q: What does translational research mean?

A: Research is about creating knowledge that will transform practice. Imagine it as a bridge between academics and practitioners. Translational research envisions keeping the two-way flow of knowledge: presenting business challenges to research scholars and providing research insights to business leaders. 

Business executives understand what the big issues that face them are. Part of the emphasis of translational research is on helping academics understand what the real issues are that executives face and creating engagement between academics and business executives for that purpose.

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The second emphasis is on getting research to professionals. Much of our research is published in journals that only academics read. Research findings do not become actionable insights on their own. Often research findings from multiple studies, sometimes multiple disciplines, need to be integrated to make them actionable insights.

Q: Why is translational research important?

A: Since the mid-1960s business schools have moved toward scholarly research that advances theoretical understanding of the business issues. 

Business schools are rewarded when their work is published in well-known journals that focus on such issues. Prestigious scholarly research in the last decade has become the core currency on which schools have been rated.  

Unfortunately, there have been three unintended effects:

  • Research has gone on to explore exotic issues, and more and more of business research has become esoteric. Increasingly businesses and more recently even academics have started feeling that research is losing relevance;
  • The misplaced emphasis on the “publish or perish” model has isolated academics from business executives and policymakers who are the major stakeholders in the research we create at such a high expense. 

What gives this issue an urgency is that technology and the changing business dynamic is demanding accountability from business schools. We need research that can create growth in business and equip business leaders and policymakers for meeting today’s challenges. Research has to show impact. That’s what the Center is about.   

Q: Who does translational research impact?

A: The predominant focus in our scholarly research in recent decades has been academia. We measure the impact of research by how well other academics value it. It is an important stakeholder community for us. But, if that dominates our thinking, we run the risk of becoming self-referential or talking to ourselves and creating an echo chamber. 

Students, business executives, business policymakers and the community at large are also key stakeholders.

The value of bringing research to business executives and policymakers is self-evident. The problem we now run into is that increasingly business executives do not look up to business schools as knowledge providers—they see us only as labor market players—producing students who can be employed by them. 

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Students are largely the group that has paid a price in this system. Often they are drawn to prestigious schools because they are research-driven. The bifurcation of teachers and researchers in business schools helps manage budgets and maintain prestige but it does not serve the students best. 

The larger community is the most distant from our scholarship. No business school is an island. We are embedded in communities. If we believe business can be a transformative agent, it should be so in our local communities. For example, we teach hundreds of students in multiple entrepreneurship courses. Imagine the power unleashed if we bring together our research insights on entrepreneurship, our ability to convene the strength of local institutions and transform communities into action laboratories where our students can engage and learn!

To learn more about the Translational Research Center, visit https://www.fox.temple.edu/institutes-and-centers/translational-research-center/.

While studying finance at the Fox School of Business, Tamika Boateng, BBA ’06, learned all about asset management and risk—she also learned the value of giving back to the community.

Boateng, now a management consultant for financial services at New York Price Warehouse Coopers (PwC), credits her commitment to volunteering for her professional success.

“While at Temple University, I discovered several new things that are meaningful in my life today, such as giving back,” Boateng says. “When I was 19, I applied with Big Brothers Big Sisters and was matched with an 8-year-old girl from North Philly. Every other week, I’d go to her house or bring her to campus. I tried to give her the college student experience and got to know her life. The experience made me realize the small things you do make a big impact on people’s lives.”

Boateng also joined the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), where she eventually served as the student professional organization’s vice president. In addition to helping jumpstart her career—namely through networking and securing internships with Johnson & Johnson and Vanguard—she was able to help other students achieve similar goals.

“We connected students with employers,” recalls Boateng. “We invited different companies and leaders to speak at our weekly meetings and we connected students from different schools in the Philadelph

ia area. We also had an annual conference with a career fair and professional development that helped students learn critical skills, such as networking, public speaking, and interviewing. It helped our NABA members prepare for internships and careers. Being part of NABA made me more career-focused and successful, and I know it had the same impact on others, too.”

Boateng’s commitment to volunteering continued beyond her time at the Fox School. After graduation, she was hired by Vanguard—which happened as a result of the internship she landed through NABA—and she eventually became the global head of bank strategy and relations. While there, she co-led a program in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America where 60 of her coworkers became mentors to students at a school in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. The program cultivated relationships between students and professionals with the goal to increase the school’s graduation rate.

Her current volunteer activities include being a member of the board at the Settlement Music School Germantown Branch—one of the largest community arts schools in the country, alumni include Albert Einstein, Kevin Bacon, and Chubby Checker. Boateng connected with the school through Leadership Philadelphia, which matches the skills of professionals in the Philadelphia area to board opportunities with organizations in need. Boateng is passionate about music education (her twin sons both play piano), so it was a perfect match.

“My experiences in philanthropy made me the leader I am today,” says Boateng. “You gain so many skills through volunteering. While volunteering back at Temple, I did not fully grasp at the time all of the benefits. But I gained valuable communications skills and learned how to work with diverse groups of people from all different backgrounds; both these things would help me so much in the future. It’s so important to give back. I wouldn’t be where I am today without those experiences.”

For more stories and news, follow the Fox School on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

March 2017 – Fox Update

April 7, 2017 //

Fox part-time, full-time MBA programs surge in latest rankings

Discussed in this issue:

  • Join Fox and Temple alumni to make a difference
  • Fox Impact: Philanthropy Panel of Professionals

February 2017 – Fox Update

April 7, 2017 //

MBA alum Shpat Deda produces BAFTA-winning short film on refugees

Discussed in this issue:

  • Marketing alumnus Raheem Brock: From Super Bowl champion to acting
  • Accounting students make an impact: File tax returns for community members for free

January 2017 – Fox Update

February 3, 2017 //

The art of business: Fox alums in the music, beauty and culinary industries

Discussed in this issue:

  • Fox student wins grand prize at Temple’s Innovative Idea Competition
  • 1,000 Fox students raise $320,000 to benefit 100 organizations

November 2016 – Fox Update

November 30, 2016 //

Gen. Colin Powell cuts ribbon to celebrate the new Military and Veteran Services Center at Temple University

Discussed in this issue:

  • Fox School of Business dedicates Charles Schwab Financial Planning Training CenterTM
  • Fox students making real-world impact

MIS earns No. 1 world ranking for research productivity


Discussed in this issue:
• MIS undergraduate program earns top-15 ranking for fifth year in a row
• Advisory board member endows $100,000 scholarship
• Recognizing MIS students who excel in academics and professional and soft skill development

U.S. News ranks Fox School of Business among nation’s top-50 undergrad business programs

Discussed in this issue:

  • Seven Owls – three from Fox – named to the Philadelphia Business Journal’s “Power 76” list
  • Fox develops innovative report card for higher education

U.S. News ranks Fox School of Business among nation’s top-50 undergrad business programs

updateDiscussed in this issue:

  • Amazon’s Ozii Obiyo, MBA ’12, takes Silicon Valley’s tech startups to the Cloud
  • Fox unveils owl statue as part of centennial celebration

August 2016 – Fox Update

August 31, 2016 //

For Fox alums Tim Mounsey and Jesse DiLaura — the line between home and work is blurred


Discussed in this issue:
• Smart technology – and not body cameras – more likely to reduce use of lethal force by police, according to Fox researchers
• Entrepreneur Lauren Troop, BBA ’16, co-creates organic, fair trade cafe on campus
• Memorial service September 9 for Dr. Mitrabarun “MB” Sarkar

July 2016 – Research @ Fox

July 26, 2016 //

Fox School’s Masaaki Kotabe elected to three-year term as Academy of International Business President


Discussed in this issue:

• Research productivity by Accounting Department earns top rankings
• Fox Executive DBA candidate from La-Z-Boy presents at two leading industry conferences
• Fox researcher uncovers connection between workplace gender inequality and bosses’ political leanings

Fox entrepreneurship programs earn top-10 rankings nationally

Click here to view the May 2016 issue
Discussed in this issue:
• $700,000 in cash/prizes and 223 participants at Temple’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl competition
• Fox entrepreneurs win top cash prizes at College Pitch Philly
• Fulbright Scholar takes entrepreneurship lessons home to Pakistan

Executives from QVC, RJMetrics, and Spencer Stuart honored at Fox IT Awards

Click here to view the April 2016 MIS issue
Discussed in this issue:
• MIS Graduate Programs Rank Top 15
• GenEd Data Science Course Scores National Award
• Top CIOs provide a path to excellence in digital leadership

April 2016 – Fox Update

May 20, 2016 //

Rob Lawton ’13 helps communities impacted by Flint water crisis


Discussed in this issue:
• MBA alumnus Justin Rosenberg ’09 to bring Honeygrow to Temple
• Philadelphia mayor appoints Sheila Hess ’91 as City Representative

March 2016 – Fox Update

May 20, 2016 //

Home Depot’s co-founder visits Fox


Discussed in this issue:
• Career as a gymnast helps alumnus Bill Roth ’93 jump into new venture
• Pectus condition spurs professional collaboration between Fox student and Mayo Clinic