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Krannert PhD student named a 2016 ISBM Doctoral Support Awards Competition winner

Krannert doctoral candidate Wanqing Zhang was among the winners of the 26th annual Institute for the Study of Business Markets (ISBM) Doctoral Support Award Competition, which is sponsored by the Smeal College of Business at Penn State.

The award is given each year to the three best research proposals in business-to-business marketing. Research proposals focus on important issues related to either marketing’s role in B2B innovations, business buying behavior or business customer analytics. The ISBM Competition attracts thirty to forty entries every year submitted by marketing PhD students at leading business schools across the world.   

 “My dissertation research proposal is concerned with learning behavior in the context of an organization’s decision whether or not to renew a major contract with a supplier,” Zhang says. “Maintaining continuity in contractual relationships is an important challenge for suppliers in business markets because firms typically spend considerable effort and resources in designing customized value packages to acquire customers for major contracts.

“Furthermore, if the customers in such contractual relationships are lured away by competitors with superior product offerings, they may be very difficult to regain. In deciding whether to renew a major contract, business customers assess the value of a supplier’s total product offering based on inputs of use experience from different units within the organization, as well as the firm’s interactions with the supplier’s customer-assistance service personnel and sales representatives. A sound understanding of how business customers make corporate-wide contract renewal decisions can be critical to suppliers in managing customer satisfaction and continuity in the relationship.

“To this end, we develop a structural model to study how business customers form assessments of a supplier’s past performance and how a supplier’s marketing and service efforts affect subsequent patronage behavior through improvements in product quality and service and sales, as well as reductions in the uncertainties in product quality and service support. We also model an organization’s renewal decision as a joint decision by integrating feedbacks from different user departments within an organization. In addition, we incorporate the learning from new sources of information that include department-level use feedback, customer-initiated supplier’s customer service assistance and supplier’s sales force efforts.”

In addition to Zhang, two other PhD students — one from Columbia and another from Yale — were named Institute Business Marketing Doctoral Fellows. Each will receive $5,000 to support their travel, conference attendance and data collection.

Zhang’s PhD advisor is Manu Kalwani, Purdue University’s OneAmerica Professor of Management.

This is the third time in the 26-year history of the competition that one of Professor Kalwani’s students has won the award. The first was Das Narayandas, who started his academic career at the Harvard Business School and is now a chaired professor and a senior associate dean.  The second winner was Piyush Kumar, who started at Rice University and is now a tenured faculty member at the University of Georgia.