Exemplars 10

Learning from the Market

Opus College of Business

Avinash Malshe on the interplay between research and his professional experience.

I was born and raised in India. I obtained my undergraduate degree in pharmaceutical sciences. Immediately after my graduation, I took a sales job in a mid-sized pharmaceutical company and worked with it for about eight months. After leaving that job, I went back to school to get my M.B.A. in marketing. An M.B.A. led me to a professional career in pharmaceutical brand management for over five years with companies such as Pfizer and Ranbaxy. I moved to the United States in 2001 to pursue a Ph.D. in marketing at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. After finishing my doctoral work, I joined the University of St. Thomas as a marketing faculty member and have been here since 2005. In my second career (as a marketing academic), I have been teaching in both the full-time and evening UST M.B.A. programs. I have also worked with the Executive Training and Development arm of the Opus College of Business, training middle and senior-level sales and marketing executives from both the for and nonprofit organizations. My academic and managerial career has allowed me to travel to many parts of the world. Specifically, I have traveled within the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, the European Union as well as North America.

   While teaching has its own rewards, an equally exciting part of my job as a professor is doing academic research. I have diverse research interests in the area of marketing strategy; however, the primary focus of my current research activity is on investigating the interface between sales and marketing functions within business organizations. Specifically, my research seeks to understand how the dynamics within this interface affect the various strategic processes firms engage in, as well as their marketplace outcomes. This area is of crucial interest and importance both to academics and practitioners since current evidence suggests that firms lose billions of dollars in failed marketing strategies simply because they are not able to manage the interface between their sales and marketing organizations.

   As a researcher, I draw quite a bit on my academic training as well as my managerial experience. My academic training allows me to identify important research questions in this area, which, when investigated, will help to make progress in this field. My professional experience offers me a unique point of view since, until about a few years ago, I was living the phenomenon that I study currently. This makes research a fun activity and not a chore.

   My research, to date, has offered some interesting insights. Specifically, my findings allow us to understand how (sub)optimal interface dynamics may affect marketing strategy creation, or getting salespeople’s buy-in of firms’ marketing strategies. My research also highlights how sales and marketing professionals may build different kinds of cross-functional linkages, and how these linkages may help them build credibility in the eyes of the other function. The projects I am currently working on aim to understand how interface dynamics may affect firms’ ability to learn from the market, manage the market knowledge internally, or develop superior products and brands, both within the United States and across continents.

   I believe that academic research must serve two purposes. First, it should generate new knowledge. Second, and equally important, is that it should offer guidance to managers to improve business practices. My hope is that my work is providing scholars interesting insights into this area and helping move this area forward. Concurrently, I expect that marketing and sales practitioners are able to put my findings to use and improve their sales and marketing effectiveness.

   Any academic will tell you that one’s research effort is filled with ups and downs. Mine is not an exception! I have been fortunate to have some of my work published in respected, peer-reviewed marketing and business journals. I have also, at times, experienced the disappointment that comes when an article is rejected by a journal.

   I must say that my experience doing research has taught me a lot. I have presented my work at national and international conferences, giving me an opportunity to engage with a global community of scholars and learn a great deal from their insights into this area. I have also had numerous interactions with business managers at different forums. These conversations have helped me not only to develop a nuanced understanding of the field but also understand the applicability and limitations of academic theories in explaining real-life phenomena. Overall, my research journey has given me the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of an area that I am truly passionate about. To a researcher, this is very rewarding.

   While my graduate assistants have helped me in data management processes, some of my former students have participated in my data collection activity. They also have given me access within their companies to collect data. Other students have benefited from my research since I often share the findings from my studies in my M.B.A. classroom when we discuss issues related to marketing strategy creation and execution.

Avinash Malshe
“While teaching has its own rewards, an equally exciting part of my job as a professor is doing academic research.”