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Alumni Experiences

Two BYU Alumni Win Dissertation Awards

L: Alison Mackey; R: Jared Harris

Two graduates from Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management won top honors for their doctoral dissertation research at the Academy of Management’s 2007 conference in Philadelphia.

Alison Mackey won the award for outstanding dissertation research in business policy and strategy for her research on the link between executive salaries and firm performance. Jared Harris won the best dissertation award in the social issues in management division for his dissertation on the causes and effects of misstating financial data. Half of the six finalists in the business policy and strategy division this year were Marriott School graduates — Mackey, Harris and Robert Jensen, a Marriott School assistant professor of strategy.

“It is remarkable that, of the six finalists for best dissertation in the strategy division, three were BYU alumni,” Harris says. “We were trained at different graduate schools, but there’s something about the experience we had at BYU that prepared us well for that subsequent training. For those interested in academic research, the Marriott School curriculum and professors are very intellectually engaging and lay a good groundwork for future academic success.”

The Academy of Management, the largest and oldest scholarly management association in the world, is divided into 24 professional divisions, each sponsors its own annual competitions and awards. A panel of distinguished scholars selects a few doctoral dissertations from the previous year for presentation at the annual academy conference, granting promising new scholars international exposure and recognition. The division winners are then announced at the conference.

“To have your research recognized like this, it needs to be really far along in the process, which implies you must have started quickly,” Mackey says. “At the Marriott School, we had opportunities to engage in research as research assistants prior to starting a Ph.D. program. This research experience is important in helping doctoral students hit the ground running.”

Mackey earned her Master of Organizational Behavior degree from the Marriott School in 2001 before pursuing a Ph.D. at Ohio State University. She is now an assistant professor of management at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Harris completed his Master of Accountancy degree at the Marriott School in 1997 and then earned a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. He is an assistant professor at the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia. Jensen, a 2000 graduate of the Marriott School’s Master of Organizational Behavior program, earned his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and is now at the Marriott School.

“A disproportionate number of Ph.D. students around the country are Marriott School graduates, and they’re highly sought-after,” says Gerry Sanders, chair of the Organizational Leadership and Strategy Department. “We’re developing a reputation for preparing great doctoral students in our master’s programs.”

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems and entrepreneurship. The school’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

Writer: Arie Dekker (801) 422-5629