Christian Lundblad is the new Director of Research at the Kenan Institute and Associate Dean for the Doctoral Program at Kenan-Flagler

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 | Joseph Hiatt

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Christian Lundblad, Research Director of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise

On behalf of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, in conjunction with the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, I’d like to congratulate Dr. Christian Lundblad on his new position as Director of Research at the Kenan Institute.  As of July 1, 2016, Dr. Lundblad is serving a dual role here at the business school, as he is now also serving as the Associate Dean for the Doctoral Program.    His mission is to be a bridge between the two entities and promote the link between research and academics, ideally having a greater impact on both.  Engaging doctoral students in research being done at the Kenan Institute will foster improved academics as these students take the latest research and incorporate it into their own teaching.

What does a typical student research?  According to Dr. Lundblad, a student’s research is guided by his or her own desires and passions, but there are things going on right now that many PhD students will potentially be interested in, such as entrepreneurial efforts, which is an elevated focus at the Institute.  Creating greater degrees of awareness is something that will naturally guide some students in that direction, and additionally, Dr. Greg Brown, Kenan Institute Director, is engaging some of the senior faculty here at the business school and bringing them over to the Institute.  Dr. Lundblad is an example of this, and there will be more crossover in the future. These senior faculty are already sitting over doctoral students and their dissertations, and they are going to help bring the two together in this way.  This automatically elevates some of the research that is happening at the Institute and allows for a translation into policy and practice that helps advance the its mission.  The Institute is already successful in its current research areas, but can elevate this success even further by leveraging academic research that is happening at the business school.  In terms of research, these two organizations have historically had very little to do with one another.

Most people equate research with tenured professors and the occasional PhD student.  Many students probably don’t know how easy it is to get involved with current research, and that it will be very rewarding for both parties.  While typically master’s students do not get involved in research, there has always been a relationship between the Kenan Institute and certain MBA students.  Although rare, it is wonderful when master’s students get involved in one of the research projects in some way, and there are many opportunities to get involved.  Research on entrepreneurship and global competitiveness are just a couple of areas that could potentially enhance an MBA student’s experience here at UNC Kenan-Flagler.  Even though it can appear daunting or ambiguous, learning how to research is a valuable skill, and, along with forging partnerships with top faculty, can be rewarding for every student.  Many business students will need to conduct research throughout their future careers, and the opportunities available at the Institute can provide solid footing for interested parties.

Even if participation in research isn’t for everyone, exposure, even by proxy, to the high level research going on here can have implications in classrooms and boardrooms alike.  Articles and papers are usually written and geared for a very narrow audience, but the Kenan Institute can help translate it through its marketing and media arms, clarifying the practical and policy impacts.  This will become a reality as crossover roles become more common.  The new collaborative focus between the Institute and Kenan-Flagler will have a positive impact on both the research being done and students being taught.  Classrooms will teach the latest thinking and provide insight into current market trends, and students will gain more exposure to the results produced by the entrepreneurial research in progress.

Looking to the future, Dr. Lundblad sees great potential for our state.  Greater collaboration will impact not just students, but also business and government leaders, both current and future.  These policy-makers will be more connected to the most current trends, and, with a finger on North Carolina’s economic pulse, will improve upon the business environment already established here.  While North Carolina is currently friendly for businesses, it can do even better by concentrating on improving the education system.  With better educated and trained workers, more businesses will want to employ North Carolina workers, thus inviting more businesses and jobs to the area.  As many of the world economies develop and a strong middle-class emerges across the globe, demand for highly skilled workers will increase.  North Carolina can position itself as ready to provide this labor to the world as new industries and markets develop.  As North Carolina becomes more attractive on a global scale, everyone will benefit from the increased economic activity.  The wheels to this future reality have already been set in motion.  It’s up to us to keep it going and make it happen.