For faculty members across the university, research and creative activity is an opportunity to learn, discover and give back. What goes into researching a novel? How do composers bring the black dots on a page to life? What happens to the chemicals we regularly spray, pour, dump and store? We’ll explore these questions, and more, in our faculty research series.
While Dr. Etayankara Muralidharan (Murli) had always wanted to be part of the academic world, fate had its own plan. And so Murli spent 20 years in the corporate world, where he became an expert in international business and strategic marketing, and experienced the world of business in various positions and locations, including Latin America.
Even with all his success and after years climbing the corporate ladder, he still wanted to contribute to academia and share his own business knowledge by teaching future generations. Three years ago, he completed his doctorate program at the University of Manitoba, but it was just the beginning of his journey to answer questions about phenomena in the corporate world.
Broadly speaking, Murli, assistant professor in the School of Business, has four areas of research interest: organizational crisis management, international entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship and economic inequality in society (and how organizations can help reduce inequality)—and each stems from his experience in the corporate world.
He says his interest in organizational crisis management, the subject of his PhD thesis, came from his international trading experience with a $100-billion corporation in India.
“When a firm decides to recall a product, it sends negative signals to the public and shareholders,” he explains. “And it creates a dilemma, because it places the firm managing the crisis situation between its shareholders and customers, whose requirements are diametrically opposed.” Murli’s paper on the subject was recently named Best Paper for the strategy track at the 43rd Annual Conference of the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada.
His experience in corporate social responsibility motivates his research questions revolving around social entrepreneurship and economic inequality. “I’m looking at what motivates socially responsible individuals who set up social enterprises,” he says. “Money is not their objective—their objective is to create social value in society.”
An offshoot of that investigation looks at economic inequality. “There is a lot of economic inequality in society, especially in North America. What drives it? What can large organizations do to reduce that gap?”
One of the challenges in Murli’s areas of research is in accessing primary data—organizations aren’t always so willing to part with information related to an organizational crisis or to share why a particular decision was made in that regard. But that doesn’t deter him from his quest to understand corporate phenomena and disseminate his knowledge with his students.
"I wish I had 50 hours a day," he says. "If you enjoy something, time is not an issue—you just want more of it."
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