Dr. Eduardo Dittmar: “Research is the systematization of curiosity”
02 de July de 2020
02 de July de 2020
The Vice-Dean of Research of EAE Business School, Dr. Eduardo C. Dittmar, is the greatest advocate of the School’s research activity and, as such, the most well-informed authority to give an overview of this area. Recently, EAE published its Research Report 2019 and we decided to interview him to find out his impressions and perception of the state and progress of research at EAE Business School.
Professor, tell us a little about yourself, your career and the origins of your passion for research.
I was born in Buenos Aires (Argentina), but I have had very close ties to Spain for many years now. I have always been a restless person and, at the same time, very thorough in my work. I came into contact with research, in a broad sense, during my Bachelor Degree, but also after graduating, on my postgraduate and PhD programs.
In other words, you could say that I have grown up with research, which has been a privilege in many ways, being as dynamic and exciting as you want it to be. In our professional activities, more often than we would like, we carry out routine functions. In contrast, in research, you are constantly learning about issues that are certainly challenging. There is nothing more rewarding than understanding a reasonable complex phenomenon and discovering just how ignorant we can be.
Seeing research as an extremely broad concept, how would you define it?
The answer to that question is likely to vary depending who you ask but, in my opinion, it is the systematization of curiosity. In a broad sense, to put it simply, we can see it as delimiting and defining a certain issue, asking a question, reflecting on how to answer it and, finally, gathering, examining and interpreting the results. In short, researching is pushing the boundaries of knowledge.
In your opinion, why is research so important and what objectives does it strive for?
The relevance of research in a business school or public or private university is very significant. It is intrinsic and essential for its existence. This can increasingly be seen at a global level, in terms of aspects such as ranking, reputation, national and international accreditations, among others. Institutions that purely focus on teaching or that conduct limited research will only train professionals that embody academic capitalism.
In contrast, universities and business schools with a bright future, such as EAE, must foster research with determination, as they have to generate and disseminate knowledge. Our objective consists of training the leaders of the future comprehensively, equipping them with all the cutting-edge tools they need to operate successfully in an increasingly complex world. Research is strongly linked to our commitment to innovation. As a result, we can be confident that our academic programs are aligned with the needs of the business world.
The objectives of the Vice-Deanship that I have the honour of heading include promoting quality research, fostering innovation and technology transfer, and facilitating and incentivizing the staff’s participation in groups of an acclaimed standard, projects and research contracts, as well as stimulating the acquisition of external resources in national and international schemes. As obviously has to be the case, we have to do all this while ensuring the equal opportunities that must prevail between men and women.
As the Vice-Dean of Research of EAE Business School, what are your duties and how do you perform them?
The Vice-Deanship of Research has a fairly broad set of competences that can be grouped into three blocks. In fact, EAE Business School structures the activities in the field of research into three large lines of action assigned the following functions:
Faculty training, evaluation and accreditation. Initiatives in this area include: training the teaching and research staff and collaborating lecturers on research techniques; drafting reports prior to contracting teaching and research staff in relation to research strengths; evaluating the scientific output and non-scientific dissemination of the teaching and research staff; providing help to teaching and research staff in relation to accrediting their academic and scientific activity; and preparing the Annual Report on the School’s research and non-scientific dissemination.
Internal research promotion plans. EAE’s activities in this respect include: approving the annual regulations each year on incentives for research and non-scientific dissemination for the teaching and research staff; annually approving the financial support system for teaching and research staff to attend congresses; creating research groups and specific synergies between the teaching and research staff, with the aim of increasing the quantity and quality of the School’s scientific output and non-scientific dissemination; and promoting the indexing of the School’s scientific publications.
Participation in national and international research projects: In this area, the School: establishes research partnership agreements with other national and internationals business schools and higher education institutions; advocates the School’s participation in research projects financed by public administrations; and evaluates the presentation and communication proposals for research congresses from the teaching and research staff.
How do you rate the current situation of the School research community and activities? How about in comparison to previous years?
By implementing a diverse set of initiatives and specific programs, through the Vice-Deanship of Research, EAE organizes a remarkable selection of research and innovation activities, at both a scientific and technical level, with a wide range of objectives. Among others, these objectives include knowledge generation, transfer and dissemination, contributing to continuous improvement at an international, national, regional and local level.
The ambitious commitment the School has implemented represents a disruptive plan with respect to the School’s previous policies, which places us at the highest standard (at both an internal level in comparison to the recent past, and with respect to our potential national and international peers). Institutional development policies have been implemented firmly and decisively, based on solid judgment, to promote research, thereby enhancing EAE’s scientific output both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Based on its firm commitment at both an academic and social level, EAE has designed and implement a number of research groups, not to mention the additional groups being launched over the course of 2020). The research groups currently running are the Law and New Technologies Research Group (DERTEC-EAE), the Marketing and Consumer Behaviour Research Group (MARCO-EAE), the EAE Communication Research Group (Comm.Research-EAE), the Teaching Innovation Research Group (GID-EAE), and the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Group (GIE-EAE). They each contribute meaningful solutions to society, based on applied research and innovation and transfer procedures, among other instruments.
EAE has spearheaded a wide range of initiatives for the constant promotion of research, such as the scientific collaborative learning groups that have just been rolled out, to give just one of many possible examples. Moreover, I would highlight the development and consolidation of networks (with specific research agreements) with other leading higher education institutions that set the standard at an international levels. The diverse range of initiatives that EAE undertakes represent a significant contribution to knowledge.
Publications on scientific databases
There has been a very significant and unprecedented increase, at both a quantitative and qualitative level, in publications catalogued on the Web of Science (WoS), Scopus (Elsevier) and Scielo Citation Index, and others with an editorial committee, without forgetting special-focus editions and book chapters in publications by internationally acclaimed publishers. In this respect, over the last three years, there has been a year-on-year increase of journals indexed on WoS of 367%, and a 200% year-on-year rise in the number of articles published on Scopus. In the same period, the annual increase in the number of books and chapter reached 200%. Moreover, along the same lines, there has also been an increase in the number of citations received, as well as considerable improvements in terms of the international cooperation figures.
Congresses and conferences
Just over the last three years, there has been a 525% year-on-year increase in citations on the WoS, and over 416% on Scopus. Furthermore, EAE academics have made and increasingly notable contribution to national and international scientific events, as well as to paradigmatic scientific networks. In fact, in 2019 alone, EAE lecturers and researchers gave presentations at a total of 48 national and international congresses and conferences, 14 of which were abroad, in countries including Italy, Portugal, the United States, Mexico, Malaysia, Poland, Cyprus, Austria and France. Moreover, the School is taking the appropriate steps to create and implement university chairs backed and sponsored by leading companies, which, in turn, advocate research in their respective fields.
Since 2019, EAE has been publishing articles in journals ranked in the prestigious international ranking of the Financial Times (FT), which includes journals that are international leaders in the field of business. These journals are the basis for the preparation of the FT Research ranking, which classifies the best schools and masters in these areas at a global level.
This all forms part of the ambitious research policy established by in the second half of 2017, the results of which have been very successful in several different spheres.
What are the main measures and services through which EAE Business School stimulates research among students and lecturers?
At our School, we place great importance on training and improving in the area of research, focusing on different fields without losing sight of the methodological spectrum. This training and improvement are essential for developing and consolidating the scientific careers of our faculty members. As well as the training giving in different areas and information about leading national and international congresses, our lecturers have access to different scientific databases, financial support for reviewing the style guidelines of publications, research placements, internal and external research projects, and calls for contributions to special-focus editions and book chapters in publications by internationally acclaimed publishers.
Aware of the need to incentivize research, we have implemented several initiatives to carry out specific actions to encourage Master students to conduct research (covering the enrolment costs of EAE students, in certain cases, on PhD programs). As well as the Master’s Theses in the traditional or classical sense, students have the opportunity to undertake a Thesis with a marked research profile. Students who take this option are expected to effectively manage knowledge and skills to create original knowledge with practical applications. As you can see, the overall aim is to achieve an innovative, precise and creative study.
What impact does research have in terms of developing and improving the programs offered by EAE Business School?
Research has proven to be a priority in all areas of universities. Thanks to research, we can create and, at the same time, apply innovative ideas that boost the knowledge economy. Research plays a key role in knowledge and talent creation. Both the use of innovation within teaching and the way in which research is fostered and consolidated underline the fact that our programs are of the highest standard.
In this respect, our business school boasts a business incubator that strives to promote entrepreneurship and the implementation of various initiatives headed by the students, with the constant support of lecturers and different experts in the field. As a result, the knowledge and experiences generated in these structures can then be applied in the programs and case studies examined on different courses and master. Last but not least, the know-how generated can be applied to other practical cases that may be useful for analysing and studying different aspects of business.
Do you think that the transfer of academic knowledge to the business world is important? How does this take place at the School??
It is fundamental. Facilitating the transfer of the knowledge generated is an essential step in order to capitalize fully on the research. There are several activities that EAE organizes in this respect. For instance, this year, we have rolled out our industrial project scheme. For this type of project, we have laid the groundwork so that, from 2020 onwards, there will be grants to carry out research with a highly practical character and clear business application.
One of the objectives we strive to achieve is to put techniques into practice that may be of interest for products, procedures or services that either already exist or are newly created. It is particularly significant when this results in technology transfer. In this respect, our goal is for these products, procedures or services generate patents or other instruments. This is one of the objectives that EAE promotes. Our country’s capacity for innovation is built on foundations that are progressively more solid. The contribution of public and private research centres to innovation and industrial property plays and increasingly important role in this result.
Looking forward, what does the future of research hold? What about at EAE Business School?
Research is a key factor at all levels and is proving to be a priority. In my opinion, at an institutional, national and international level, we should allocate all possible resources to scientific research. In fact, it has been shown to be an investment, and in no way just an expense. If we look at the annual rankings of the main universities and business schools, which carry out a thorough examination of their tuition, technology transfer and research, not a single Spanish institution is included. In my opinion, this is not primarily due to a lack of tradition in this respect, but rather to the failure to develop all the potential that the country has. These cutting-edge institutions are not only characterized by their capacity for transmitting knowledge, but, more importantly, for generating it. All the leading institutions at a global level increasingly promote research and knowledge transfer, without losing sight of their commitment in terms of the students’ education.
With respect to future challenges for EAE in relation to research, there is a particular emphasis on the increase of both innovation and knowledge transfer, notwithstanding the fact that, since the end of 2019, we have laid the groundwork to make this a visible reality over the course of 2020. Moreover, we should not lose sight of the need to enhance the internationalization of the research conducted. Ad hoc research agreements help towards achieving this goal, in varied fields of research with acclaimed institutions at a global level, by virtue of which there are some really promising projects under way.
Therefore, as I mentioned, our goal is for the knowledge generated through research to have a significant impact on the School itself and at a national level. As is the case at EAE, this requires a strong will to implement policies that generate a real and effective impact in terms of research.
To find out more about EAE Business School’s research activity, download EAE’s Research Report 2019.