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What if your Primary Research Interest is Sales Management?

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What if your Primary Research Interest is Sales Management? [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2007, 00:00
A brief bio before my question:

I teach at a community college. I'm thinking about pursuing a PhD in business, then afterwords trying to move up in the academic world to a bigger institution that pays more than the CC life. I have a background in sales and sales management: GF500, B2B, high tech. I enjoyed this and the remuneration end of it until the tech bust and 9/11 killed the careers of millions--including me. So I moved on to another field. I enjoy my job in lower-level academia, but having hit the streets with reps and having taught them the ropes and tasted that blood of the former career, I've never really gotten it out of my system. Thus, if I go the PhD route, I'd really like to study the process of what makes sales and sales management work. I really believe my interest in this would carry me through the drudgeries of a PhD in business; I can't imagine many other research directions that would do so for me.

So what discipline? Marketing? General Management? Organizational Behavior? Or does it depend on the institution?
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2007, 01:24
i'd say that there is no definite answer...
what i think you should do is try to define better your interest and relate it to specific academic publications that touch the questions you want to research. then see who published them and apply to where those people are. i guess that in different schools it will be in different departments - but the key is to find relevant people and potential supervisors.
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2007, 09:47
Thanks, Hobbit.

This is what I suspected. It's more about the professor than the program. I know you've had some pretty substantial success in this process yourself, so when you speak, I listen.

So are you saying I need to define a very specific area that I want to research, such that I almost have a working title for my future dissertation in hand by the time I start the application process--if I do--next fall?
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2007, 10:50
mrw142 wrote:
Thanks, Hobbit.

This is what I suspected. It's more about the professor than the program. I know you've had some pretty substantial success in this process yourself, so when you speak, I listen.

So are you saying I need to define a very specific area that I want to research, such that I almost have a working title for my future dissertation in hand by the time I start the application process--if I do--next fall?


i'm not sure i can be considered "successful" - but thanks anyway... here is what i think:

not necessarily a tentative title (although i had one in mind...) but a balance between broad understanding of the wider area of research and a specific interest or research question(s).

you need some broad understanding and knowledge in the area to be able to formulate your interests in relation to what already exists: relating it to existing concepts, methodologies, common classifications and some "jargon". you don't need to be expert, but if you don't know the key topics related to your interests, if you haven't at least skimmed through a relevant advanced level textbook it might look bad.

on the other hand you need to be able to show some ability to "run deep" - taking a more focused question define a methodology, raise hypotheses, or critique it in an intelligen way using concepts from the broader area...

it is difficult to say exactly where the balance is, but it is important to be flexible and shift it a bit from application to application, depending on schools/department.

you should also remember that probably the interest you describe in the SOP isn't likely to be your actual PhD. you'd probably change your mind more than once through your studies... you need to be somewhat specific about your interest mainly to show that you have interests, and that when you are interested in something academic you know how to develop it and communicate it. nobody expects you be expert just show passion, interest, a balance between focus and flexibility and of course intellectual ability....and you'll do just fine.
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2007, 12:28
hobbit's advice is excellent. My approach was similar to what he outlined. In my case, I hit a few times on research interests that a prof had but had not made public (this sort of lucky event helps in admissions a lot).

As far as field, it is hard for me to say based on your post. If I read into it a bit and infer that you like behavioral aspects of sales, then maybe marketing or OB will have some overlap. In line with what hobbit said, I think it would be a great idea to go through some of the literature in the various fields. Don't get bogged down with the details right now. Just read the abstract and maybe a small portion of the intro. If you're interested I or many others here could probably point you to some of the A journals in each field.
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2007, 13:49
Bauble,

Nice to hear from another one who's had great success in this process. By the way, I have studied this stuff a bit when studying for an MBA, but my knowledge is of the superficial MBA type. I was thinking OB might be the direction, but I didn't know. My favorite MBA class was OB, but that may have been the professor.

Anyway, thanks for the advice, what are some of those A journals in sales management? I know the University of Missouri has a journal on that topic, don't know what level of esteem it's held in.

By the way, FYI, I'm not a competitive candidate for a top 20 program like many of you, particularly Bauble and Hobbit--I have no aspirations of Duke or Wharton, I don't think they'd be interested. My grades are good (UG 3.7, MBA 3.9), but only at flagship-type state universities, not at Ivy League or equivalent schools. I haven't taken the GMAT yet, but even if I scored 750+, I don't think I'm in any top program's ballpark. I just want to know what sort of prep might suit me to aim for one of those lesser-esteemed but solid programs, such as you might see at the average flagship state university. I might aim for some sort of program that's second tier as a flier, but not holding my breath here.
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2007, 21:16
Don't count yourself out of a top 20, particularly if you have a good SOP and strong GMAT. Another differentiator, e.g., rigorous masters, good LOR's, pubs, would be helpful too.

Here's a list of top marketing/mgmt journals (from UTD rankings):
Journal of Consumer Research
Journal of Marketing
Journal of Marketing Research
Marketing Science
Management Science
Academy of Management Journal
Academy of Management Review
Administrative Science Quarterly
Organization Science
Strategic Management Journal
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2007, 21:46
Agree with bauble that you don't drop "top" schools from your list. Aim for high GMAT. Couple with your GPAs, I think you would pass the "Competency" factor (as spelt out by hobbit in another thread) for most, if not all, schools.

I think the challenge for you is to be clear of your research interest. Although your interest is likely to change once you get into the program, it is important to show that you know what's going on in the particular research area. The good thing is that you have time on your side. So go hit the library.

All the best!

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 [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2007, 21:48
Bauble,

Thanks a lot for the info and the list of journals; that will help. I will presumably have some publications under my belt by the time I get rolling; I'm traveling out of state to present a paper this weekend and have another presentation scheduled. I'm also working on a paper with a prof at a big university; this paper may get A journal consideration, but not likely by dint of my vitae.

Thanks again for your advice. You must be very satisfied with your accepts. Any word from those last couple yet?

Last edited by mrw142 on 26 Feb 2007, 22:01, edited 1 time in total.
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2007, 21:56
tkkoh,

Thanks for the info and encouragement. We'll see what happens.

To be very honest, even if I were to be accepted to a top program by some strange and quirky judgment on the part of an adcom, I'm not sure I'm quite the sort of ultra-dedicated zealot they like to work with; I have a family and they like me showing my face occasionally. Not that I might not throw an app at a few programs in the 15-20 range if I somehow manage to go 97th percentile plus on the GMAT; but I'm not going to be crushed if what I expect to happen--DING!--happens. I'd be satisfied to get an admit to an average state U. I'll leave the fame and fortune to you guys who are qualified for it. I am, after all, a community college instructor. I did, after all, land in this low-pay predicament after washing out of GF500 management. It gives you perspective.
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 [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2007, 22:36
Sorry, but what's the GF500?

I share your views about going to top schools. Like you, I have a family. For the last few years, I have the luxury to spend hours with my wife and kid, taking time off as and when I like, etc. Going to do a PhD would change all these. The adjustments would not be easy for both me and my loved ones. And it is not only during the 4 to 5 years of grad school, but also during the first few years after that...

In fact, I have been discussing these with my wife many times. No solutions... no ideas how it would be like. However, we know we would go thru it together... just have to keep praying for understanding, patience and strength.

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 [#permalink] New post 27 Feb 2007, 00:06
Oh, I might give up too much info if I mention the corporation. I never know who's perusing these boards, maybe adcoms. If I do end up doing this PhD app thing, I don't want to be whining about the way some interview went here and then someone might see it and say "Hey, I know that guy. How many CC instructors who worked in sales management for _______ and are applying to PhD programs can there be? Can you believe he said that about us? It's the circular file for him." I'll give you a hint, it's a big Japanese-based imaging technologies company. Not the biggest, but close. By the way, that praying and working with the wife thing is a pretty good strategy.
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Feb 2007, 06:05
mrw,

I don't want to give you any false hope, but I honestly think your profile, from what you've written, is fairly decent. Look at vitae of Ph.D. students from a few schools to get a better sense of where you might be.

There is good work being done outside "top 20" schools for sure. If you want to do research, make sure that you target schools at least a tier above research universities where you'd like to work so that you have good placement prospects upon graduation.

Only MIT is pending at this point. I'd be happy (duh) to go to one of the places to which I have been accepted, so I am not that worried about it. Not that it keeps me from checking my email a few times a day!
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Feb 2007, 06:31
mrw: Here's my two cents. Those who have Master's degrees from MIT, Stanford and the like are few and far between, so they take up very few of the available spots at top schools. You're mostly competing against international applicants (in most cases, whoever looks at your application hasn't heard from their school at all, so being from a state school doesn't hurt you), and other Americans from state schools such as yours.

Good Canadian universities are as widely recognized across US academia, so people know when you're not from one. This was my case, and I got admitted at 2 top schools (out of the 4 to which I'd applied), and where I am now (one of those 2 schools) I met people from schools like U. of Oklahoma, U. of Cincinnati, Indiana, Michigan State, etc.

The real question, as you kinda pointed out, is whether you want to dedicate your life to time-consuming (and sometimes sanity-consuming) studies, or whether you just want to have a degree that will let you teach somewhere else than a CC. It's really not so much about being qualified to do this.
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Feb 2007, 08:50
bauble wrote:
mrw,
I'd be happy (duh) to go to one of the places to which I have been accepted, so I am not that worried about it. Not that it keeps me from checking my email a few times a day!


Yeah, no offence, but "duh" is the operative word there, I'm thinking anyone who was accepted at Duke, Michigan, et. al. knows they've hit the jackpot (albeit an earned one) and will have pretty much all doors open to them upon graduation if they stay on course.
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Feb 2007, 09:01
cabro57 wrote:
This was my case, and I got admitted at 2 top schools (out of the 4 to which I'd applied), and where I am now (one of those 2 schools) I met people from schools like U. of Oklahoma, U. of Cincinnati, Indiana, Michigan State, etc.


My MBA would be right along the lines of one of those schools you mentioned. A huge east coast public university that everyone's heard of, but one overshadowed by the Ivy covered universities nearby.

cabro57 wrote:
The real question, as you kinda pointed out, is whether you want to dedicate your life to time-consuming (and sometimes sanity-consuming) studies, or whether you just want to have a degree that will let you teach somewhere else than a CC. It's really not so much about being qualified to do this.


Another issue is whether I can ace the GMAT. Because of prior graduate work and other factors, I was permitted to waive it years ago when I studied for an MBA. Graduating with high grades from an MBA program does not guarantee that I'd be able to get 700+ on the GMAT; the two probably have little or nothing to do with each other.

But overall, I think the biggest issue is the one you discuss. Even if Wharton or Duke were wanting to work with me, I might not want to dedicate the kind of time to them. I have a family, and they get to see a lot of me now.
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Feb 2007, 15:16
mrw142 wrote:

Another issue is whether I can ace the GMAT. Because of prior graduate work and other factors, I was permitted to waive it years ago when I studied for an MBA. Graduating with high grades from an MBA program does not guarantee that I'd be able to get 700+ on the GMAT; the two probably have little or nothing to do with each other.


According to GMAC (or whoever is administering the GMAT), the GMAT is a good indicator of 1st year MBA performance - better than the GPA, etc. If we are to do a backcasting - since you done well for your MBA, you should have done well for your GMAT.

I think this statement will be attacked from many fronts :lol: Seriously, one main hurdle is our self-confidence. We just have to keep our heads up.

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 [#permalink] New post 27 Feb 2007, 15:44
tkkoh wrote:
Seriously, one main hurdle is our self-confidence. We just have to keep our heads up.


Don't worry, my head's up, there's no shortage of egos in academia, even at a nondescript community college; in short, some of my "humility" is probably disingenuous. I just try to play things down to make my expectations more realistic. But it doesn't take a genius to understand that if a score in the 97th percentile or above is necessary for admission to an elite program and the pool of people taking the test are exclusively those seriously considering MBA or PhD studies, that it's by no means a done deal that you'll find yourself better than 29 out of 30 people in that rarified pool.

Anyway, thanks for all the encouragement. How's the process going for you?
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 [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2007, 05:01
Quote:
the pool of people taking the test are exclusively those seriously considering MBA or PhD studies


Three observations:

1) The pool of applicants seriously considering MBA and PhD studies is very different; the pool of applicants considering applying to a "top" MBA or PhD program is also very different from the pool of people who just want an MBA and need to write the GMAT (whatever the score) to get one.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that percentiles are statistical properties of the distribution of actual scores on the GMAT, but are by no means a reliable indicator of "how good" you are compared to this "serious pool" you discussed. For top business PhD programs, a score in the 97th percentile probably means you're better than 60% of the applicants, not 97%.

2) Even more sobering is the fact that the level of difficulty of the math part of the GMAT is nowhere near the level of math that's taught in a PhD program. Have you ever heard about the Separating hyperplane theorem? Or Kakutani's fixed point theorem? I sure as hell didn't before I got here, and I scored 750 on the GMAT.

3) To balance the two previous (depressing) observations, the fact is that with good time management I still get to see my family a lot. In fact I'm sure I see them a lot more than if I worked a 60-hour job somewhere. A lot of time in a PhD program is spent reading articles, which still gives you a pretty flexible schedule even though you end up spending _a lot_ of time reading them.
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 [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2007, 05:46
cabro57 wrote:
3) To balance the two previous (depressing) observations, the fact is that with good time management I still get to see my family a lot. In fact I'm sure I see them a lot more than if I worked a 60-hour job somewhere. A lot of time in a PhD program is spent reading articles, which still gives you a pretty flexible schedule even though you end up spending _a lot_ of time reading them.


Please, tell us more about the work-life situation of a PhD student. Describe a typical day. A harder day. An easier day.

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  [#permalink] 01 Mar 2007, 05:46
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