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School of Business Administration

School of Business Administration


Accounting

Students sometimes stereotype the accountant as a person sitting behind a desk and working with numbers.  Nothing can be further from the truth-both in real life and in the research performed by accounting majors, graduates, professionals, and Ph.Ds.  In real life, accountants are business professionals who work closely with their clients to improve their bottom lines, operate within federal and state laws including tax laws, and ensure that the firm is operating in accordance with the Board's and management's directives and strategic focus.  Accounting scholarship involves creative scholarship for both for-profit and not-for-profit entities.  Accounting is the 'language of business'; no matter what type of business one works for or with, accounting is an integral part of running, successfully, every type of business.

Accounting research performed by accounting professionals and by our faculty members in the Department of Accounting and Finance include but are not limited to:

  • Behavioral research  examining issues such as:
  • -the effectiveness and/or efficiency  of accountants during tax season
    -the impact of work environment factors (i.e. high-pressure clients, interruptions, deadlines, long hours, etc.) on accountants' judgment and decision making
    -the impact of relevant standards and best practices on accountants' exposure to liability
  • Capital market research examining issues such as: 
  • -the impact of the public release of accounting information (i.e. the annual report or earnings) on the stock price of a company
    -the ways in which  firms 'signal' future financial performance when making voluntary disclosures in their annual reports such as social responsibility disclosures
  • Practical classroom-oriented cases which help both students and accounting professionals practice the theories and concepts they learn in school by applying them to actual or theoretical situations;
  • Other creative scholarship involving disciplines outside of accounting (psychology, economics, and history, to name just a few) which can be developed together with our accounting faculty members based upon the student's interest(s) in other disciplines.

Finance

Many people associate finance with a career on Wall Street.  Ultimately, however, finance teaches students how to help people and companies raise money and invest it.    Finance research is broad in scope and includes many aspects such as:

  • Understanding financial market processes such as learning how stock prices respond to information.
  • Investigating better ways for large and small firms to raise capital.  New methods such as 'crowd funding' may help small firms raise capital more effectively and generate more job growth.
  • Helping firms manage cash flows to operate a small or a large firm as efficiently as possible.
  • Understanding the extent to which markets price securities correctly and analyzing whether a stock is a good buy or not.
  • Developing better measures of portfolio performance so that investors can understand whether the investment advice they are paying for is worthwhile.
  • Helping people understand what investments are appropriate to meet their financial planning goals at different phases of their life.
  • Designing contracts and regulations that help ensure corporate and financial managers' interests are aligned with their stakeholders and understanding the role of ethics among finance professionals.
  • Using derivatives to manage the risk of a wide variety of activities including foreign exchange, hedging stock prices and protecting a portfolio from interest rate changes.

Marketing

People often think that marketers are focused solely on advertising and selling products.  However, marketing serves a critical role for business, non-profit organizations, and society.  Research in the marketing area of the Department of Management & Marketing within the School of Business Administration studies how companies and organizations determine their underlying models for earning revenue/funding, which target markets to serve, how they communicate their value propositions to customers and other stakeholders regarding their mission and products/services, and how customers interpret and respond to those communications.  Marketing research deals with questions such as:

  • What data and research are necessary to guide effective decision making in organizations? 
  • How do people in society make choices, whether it is voting for a candidate, recycling, or buying products? 
  • How do companies make decisions about what customers to serve and how to price their products?  This question includes decisions about market segmentation, targeting, and customer relationship management. 
  • Should companies engage in corporate social responsibility and other activities to build goodwill? 
  • What is the best "go to market" strategy in terms of distribution channels and sales strategies?
  • How can business work with government and public officials to ensure effective solutions? 
  • What is the ideal mix of online marketing and social media to get an organization's message to its constituents? 
  • How can a company develop novel innovations to achieve competitive advantage in existing markets and for new market opportunities?  What product features and services are most important in differentiating a company from its competitors? 
  • How do companies leverage technology, intellectual property, and human resources to create competitive advantages? 
  • What factors affect a company/organization's success in its market, including its efforts to develop sustainable innovations? 
  • When and how should a company expand internationally? 

Management Information Systems (MIS)

Almost every organization-- public, private, government, large, medium or small – relies pervasively on computing and information systems.  Individuals do too, with smart phones, Facebook, e-mail and such.  Technology is so pervasive that the field of MIS is both broad and deep, and ever changing.  The research is too.  The Management Information Systems (MIS) department within the School of Business Administration challenges students to research how these systems operate, how they are controlled, and how they are secured, in a world that is getting ever more connected and ever more complex.

 Current students are studying the attributes of a local MIS consulting firm that consults for national clients on a competitive basis out of Missoula, MT; this consulting firm hires two to three students every semester out of the MIS program.  How is this company successful?  What talents and skills do our MIS students bring that add value to the company?  Can this company be replicated in other Montana cities or other states, or are there unique issues/attributes present? 

Another research topic is how organizations innovate with management information systems in a way that adds value, not only to the organization, but also to the individual doing the innovating. 

As a group, our faculty examines all sorts of issues that are impacted by technology including:

  • How individuals innovate with technology.
  • 3D Printing and the innovation revolution that this technology facilitates.
  • How technology can be used to enhance learning.
  • How changes in web page displays are shown affects people's click-through behaviors.
  • How real-time decisions can be made with massive amounts of data and information What technologies and systems should individuals and organizations use to get things done better, quicker, cheaper, and with more impact?

Management

Research in management is concerned with the behavior of people in organizations: perceptions, processes, decisions and outcomes.  Management involves planning, organizing, staffing, leading or directing, and controlling intra- and inter-organizational systems and activities. The main areas of management include Human Resource Management, Organizational Behavior, Organization Theory, International Management, Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management, spanning small businesses to large corporations to the non-profit and governmental sectors.

The central question in Strategic Management concerns why some firms outperform others, why some succeed when others fail.  Strategic Management takes into consideration a firm's external environment, internal resources and capabilities, and the fit among the two necessary to achieve long-term competitive advantage.  It also addresses topics related to the development of innovation and organizational creativity.  The Entrepreneurship field is concerned with understanding how actors can identify entrepreneurial opportunities and capture them under circumstances of resource constraints.  International Management research includes theory, research, and practice of management with a cross-border or cross-cultural dimension, taking into consideration the political, cultural, social, economic and other institutional forces that can impact organizations in a global marketplace.

Specific topics addressed by SoBA faculty include:

  • Corruption, sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
  • Cross-cultural management opportunities and challenges.
  • Strategic groups, regional clusters and business sustainability.
  • Benefits and disadvantages of family-owned businesses to various stakeholders.Causes and consequences of organizational decline.
  • Mergers, acquisitions, diversification and privatization.