This is a different post from my usual one reviewing the academic literature. It’s the academy of management conference this week and it made me reflect a bit about my research identity and intellectual journey so far. I’ll be joining the junior faculty consortium for TIM and the homework made me think about things like my research positioning, recommendation letter writers, community engagement and impact.
My PhD training was unconventional in that my dissertation centered around an empirical context (the field of fragment-based drug discovery) instead of a social science theoretical lens. I studied various aspects of this niche field in the pharmaceutical sciences from different perspectives – technology transfer, research collaborations, career development, technology adoption and venturing. My research was mainly done with the Science / Innovation department instead of the traditional Business and Economics department. The contacts I gained were mainly from the natural sciences – from academics to practitioners in the pharma industry. Most of my work had been published in practitioner journals in drug discovery. Not knowing any better, I was thinking that if I branded myself as the “business academic with the strong scientific/pharma background” that would be my unique positioning in the job market.
So far, it has worked out. I got my amazing postdoc position at a renowned business school due to my unique background. However, in recent days, with all these talks about the job market in management academia, I’ve been reassessing my research positioning. Subscribed to academic newsletters, I see all these tenure track position ads, making me reflect on whether my profile would be competitive.
For instance, I just learned recently that business schools had their own hierarchy of journals, which tended to discount technology management disciplines. Related to this, business schools do not really hire professors for technology management, you are hired as a researcher in strategy, entrepreneurship, information systems, OB, HR or some other discipline. Thus, I need to start building my name around a particular phenomenon. Moreover, the academic community I’ve built so far has revolved around the pharmaceutical sciences, meaning, that I have to catchup making collaborators in other top business schools.
There are always things that I could have done better in the past. But, finding what those things are generally could only be identified with the benefit of hindsight. Thinking about it, I won’t even be in my current position now if not for my unique trajectory. Moving forward though and knowing better, I have to find the social science topic that I would devote my future research on.
Just to close, I just wanted to share this highlight on ESADE postdocs. I talked about why I chose to do my postdoc in Barcelona and what topics I have been working on. I’m still finding my way in academia but I’m just glad that I am working on projects that I would have never imagined I would be part of before.