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Business professors publish 65 research articles in five-year span

Emily Lean, assistant professor of business, is just one of the faculty members in the McAfee School of Business Administration who have had research published recently. (Photo by Kristi McMurry)
Emily Lean, assistant professor of business, is just one of the faculty members in the McAfee School of Business Administration who have had research published recently. (Photo by Kristi McMurry)

JACKSON, Tenn.Oct. 11, 2011 – Professors in Union University’s McAfee School of Business Administration have been published 65 times in top research journals over the past five years.

The vast majority of the articles have been in journals that have a 20 percent or lower acceptance rate, said Keith Absher, dean of the McAfee School of Business Administration. He added that the number of journal articles published in the five-year span is especially significant because of the university’s size.

“You just don’t see schools the size of Union University in these journals,” Absher said.

In conducting and publishing research, the business professors are reclaiming the Christian intellectual tradition, Absher said.

The 2010-2011 academic year represented great diversity in the research by the business professors, with topics ranging from gender studies to production efficiency to faith in the workplace.

Gender in Management: An International Journal published a work entitled “Gender, Competitiveness, and Unethical Negotiation Strategies.” The research was a collaborative effort by three business school professors: Kevin Westbrook, associate professor of marketing at Union University Germantown; C. Steve Arendall, professor of management at Union University Germantown; and Walton Padelford, university professor of economics.

A. David Austill, professor of management, explored efficiency in his article entitled “Lean Production Practices for Efficiency,” published in the Journal of Cost Management.

One of Union’s business professors is currently helping to direct the conversation about religion’s influence on the workplace. The Academy of Management, a large professional association for scholars who study organizations and management, selected Emily Lean, assistant professor of business, to serve as part of a team to study and teach on the role faith can play in management of people in an organization.

At the AOM national meeting in August, the team led a well-attended session at the conference entitled “Management, Spirituality, and Religion Research Incubator.”

Lean and her team are the first to ask, “How important is the relationship between religion and management?” Absher said.

The unusual amount of research by the business school professors began as part of a push to be accredited by one of the best accreditation programs in the country. As part of preparing for the accreditation process, the business school leadership encouraged a high standard of research, Absher said.

“Once you get started doing (noteworthy research), it becomes important to you to maintain those skills,” Absher explained.

Students in the business department have benefitted from their professors’ scholarship in multiple ways. Several students have been involved in research projects with their professors, allowing them to be published in notable journals by the time they graduate. A few students have had the opportunity to present their research to other business scholars and professionals as well.

Matthew Parker, a senior business administration major, worked with Andrew A. Tiger, professor of management, over the past year to help the Students In Free Enterprise group save money on one of its projects. Each year, SIFE raises funds by selling care packages for students. To save money by purchasing the exact number of individually-wrapped snacks for the care packages, they utilized computer optimization software, Parker said.

“(The case study article) has been accepted to a conference that will be held in October, where we will present it, then hopefully be considered and published in the journal,” Parker said.

Absher said the environment of continual research causes faculty members to stay current in their fields, which bleeds over into their classrooms.

“Our research is a win for the faculty members, students and Union,” he said. “Our graduate and undergraduate students benefit from this research. Many of our students have publications and research presentations because of faculty who have given them the opportunities.

“This is a real distinction for a student when they enter the job market -- to have presented at a conference.”

By Samantha Adams (’13)

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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