Kellogg World Alumni Magazine Winter 2007Kellogg School of Management
FeaturesBrand NewsFaculty NewsAlumni ProfilesClass NotesClub NewsArchivesContactKellogg Home
Teaching that transforms
Three Kellogg School professors on the relationship between their teaching and research

New nonprofit program producing results for education leaders

Theory into practice
Gary Parr '80
Stephanie Gallo '99
Huron Consulting
Guthrie Family
James Metcalfe '91
Gund Family
Summertime dues
'Black Monday' remembered 20 years later
Address Update
Alumni Home
Submit News
Internal Site
Northwestern University
Kellogg Search

Three Kellogg School professors on the relationship between their teaching and research

By Aubrey Henretty

  Professor Kent Grayson
  Professor Kent Grayson

Truth in advertising
“There are a lot of misconceptions — even in big companies — about what marketers are supposed to do,” says Kent Grayson, an associate professor who teaches the core marketing course at the Kellogg School. Some people — including new MBA students — still think it’s a marketer’s job to convince people to buy things they don’t want or need, he says. On the contrary, Grayson holds that successful marketers are people who research and understand consumer needs, then find a mutually beneficial way to meet those needs.

Grayson’s own research concerns the question, “How do people in general and consumers in particular sort out the deception from the truth?” We are all deceived constantly, he observes, by people we trust, by acquaintances, by total strangers, by people trying to sell us things or win our votes in the next election. “I think it’s just incredible that human society continues on despite these deceptions,” he adds.

While Grayson doesn’t talk much about his research in the classroom, he says this pursuit is rather like the “flipside of the same coin” of the coursework. He teaches students to be vigilant about understanding what consumers need, and through his research hopes to show how consumers resist what they don’t need.

Professor Camelia Kuhnen  
Professor Camelia Kuhnen  Photo © Evanston Photographic  

Learning (and discarding) the model
Assistant Professor of Finance Camelia Kuhnen also teaches the mirror image of her research to her beginning finance students.

“I teach them in theory how they should make optimal decisions,” says Kuhnen, whose studies include neurofinance — an emerging field that links neuroscience with economics. The operative term here is “in theory.” The finance models Kuhnen teaches in class all hinge on the classical economic assumption that people act rationally in business transactions, an assumption Kuhnen’s own research undermines to some extent.

The strict curriculum requirements do not leave much time for Kuhnen to discuss neurofinance with students, but she says she does try to sneak in a few “puzzles” toward the end of the term. Once students have mastered the patterns that govern more mainstream economic theory, it’s easier for them to spot deviations from those patterns and discern why they appear.

To develop these ideas fully, Kuhnen says she would need the space of an entire course. She imagines such an offering might explore “behavioral finance” — a mélange of finance, negotiations and psychology. When entering into a contract with a new partner, “you have to figure something out about their background and their preferences,” she says. The goal of behavioral finance might be to help students “understand that others break the rules and how you should respond.”

  Professor Linda Vincent
  Professor Linda Vincent  Photo © Evanston Photographic

Order out of chaos
For other faculty members, the relationship between research and teaching is more direct.

“The interaction between what I research and what I teach has always been great,” says Linda Vincent, associate professor of accounting information and management. She regards teaching and research as fluid, or at least as extremes on the same continuum. “Usually what happens is that some question arises [in class] and you think, ‘That’s a research question.’” Similarly, a great research insight demands to be shared with students.

“This information — what we’re doing — really permeates the business world,” says Vincent, who earned a PhD from the Kellogg School in 1994. “If you don’t have a theory underlying what you’re doing, the world is chaos.”

If research and teaching are just two variations on a theme, says Vincent, so are teaching and learning — especially with a group of very bright Kellogg students who are prepared to demand the best from themselves and from their teachers.

“To ensure that you really know something, you teach it. And if you don’t really know it, that’s totally exposed,” she says. “As a Kellogg professor, you’re learning all the time. It’s like being in school yourself.”

Current Top Headlines
View all current news
Subscribe to Kellogg News RSS
©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University