Good ideas move the world

Visiting Professor Niraj Dawar

Niraj Dawar is the Barford Professor of Marketing at the Ivey Business School in Canada. He has also been a visiting professor at various universities and business schools, including the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the University of Michigan Business School and INSEAD. Currently, he is a visiting professor with us. What does he do and what makes him tick?

JPGHow would you describe your field of expertise?

“I study marketing, brands, consumer behaviour and marketing strategy. My research examines how consumers think about brands. I also look at how the marketing function contributes to a company’s strategy and competitive advantage.”

A couple of years ago you spent part of your sabbatical here. Why Vlerick and why did you decide to come back?

“I came to Vlerick because of its reputation as a school that is both academically sound and plugged into the vibrant business environment in Belgium. I also have many links with Belgium: I went to high school in Brussels and my wife is Belgian. We wanted our kids to experience living here. During my sabbatical I established working relations with many people at Vlerick. We’ve continued to work on research projects and these collaborations have been very fruitful and productive.”

What does this visiting professorship entail?

“I hope it’s a long-term collaboration. As a visiting professor, I’m here a few weeks at a time. For the most part, I’m doing research with Vlerick faculty members. We’ve already worked on interesting projects that have yielded useful findings, which we’ve presented to researchers around the world (we won a Best Paper award at a conference at Oxford University last year), as well as to managers in Belgium. I also occasionally teach in programmes for executives and companies. This gives me the opportunity to get the Belgian perspective on business, which to me is also representative of the larger European business perspective. Given the changes that are occurring in Europe right now, it’s a very useful point of view for me to understand.”

What was the scope of your joint research with Steve Muylle and Deva Rangarajan?

“The role of brands is well understood in B2C markets. B2B markets, however, tend to neglect their brand strategy in favour of customer relationships built through personal selling. We wanted to demonstrate that brands and personal selling are complementary. So we argued for a brand architecture involving the corporate brand, umbrella brands, product line brands and modifier brands. By demonstrating that these different brands play a significant and different role at every stage of the relationship-building process, not only did we argue for an increased role of brands in a B2B setting, but also showed how you can actually design your brands to support customer interactions.”

We know you love travelling. Is there anything else you’re passionate about – personally or professionally?

He chuckles. “I’ll tell you what makes me tick professionally: ideas. I like to work on ideas that are both theoretically rigorous and fruitful in practice. And if I can find smart people to work with and develop these ideas with me then I’m very happy. It’s the reason I chose to be in academia. It’s the reason I’m a visiting professor at Vlerick. Good ideas move the world.”

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