04/19/14

Learning from my Doctoral Experience

Memorial Moment of my Hooding Ceremony

After the exciting and cheerful PhD hooding ceremony, I am now officially titled as a Doctor of Philosophy. I am delightful to achieve such a milestone in my life after four years of studying in the doctoral program in Georgia State University. I would not say that it has been easy for me to get here. I am yet to be a successful researcher in my field as I am still struggling with to get my first academia journal publication. However I would say that I had an enjoyable experience during these years pursuing my doctorate, while being a first-time mom to raise my son from a crying infant to a happy little man, and assisting my husband growing his photography business. I have been extreme fortunate in my path to achieve such milestone: I am fortunate to meet Dr. Tamer Cavusgil as an undergraduate student in Michigan State University, who is a distinguished scholar in the field of International business and led me to the path of PhD over a decade; I am fortunate to meet Dr. Leigh Ann Liu, my faculty mentor and advisor, who opened the door to the intriguing subject of cross-cultural management and inspired me in many ways as a researcher; I am  very fortunate to have my supporting and hard-working spouse, Zac, who helps me getting through these years without complaining; and I am  very fortunate to be in a doctoral program which allowed me balancing my life and study. Very soon, I will begin my new life as an assistant professor and face other new set of challenges. It is time for me to reflect what I have learned from my PhD program and hope I can apply them again in my future career and life. In particular, what are the most important factors to make my doctoral experience as a cheerful and memorable journey?

With Dr. Liu and Dr. Cavusgil during my Hooding Ceremony

Spirit of Entrepreneur

Majority of doctoral program in the United State is very well structured with seminars. We learn various research methods and literature before we start our dissertations. However, we often have to deal with ambiguity and confusion during our study. At the beginning of my program, I had very vague idea about research and did not know what I would be interested in. Unless some advisors would like their students to carry on researches based on their agenda, it is often up to us to identify our own research subjects which interest and inspire us to explore and discover. Like entrepreneurs, we will identify opportunities and challenges, develop an actionable attack plan, grow “thick-skin” from rejections, seek for supporting resources, and learn the right way from many trials and errors. With such spirit, we can get away from all those frustrations from rejections and failures, and keep us going in high spirits.

Curiosity of New Knowledge

In my past education, I had various trainings in the subjects of management and business administration, from accounting, to finance, to process improvement, and to strategy management. However, I felt what I had been lacking is the knowledge of how people, individuals, or groups, or companies, make their decisions and behave in organizational settings.  I expand my readings from management to sociology and psychology, which lead me to another world of knowledge about the software of the mind. It can be a curse for me as a researcher because I have a wide range of research interests instead of focusing on developing myself as subject expertise. However,  I could not only enjoy conversing with scholars from other fields, but also apply the learning from other disciplines into my field. The continuous learning from broad (although lacking of breath) subjects enlightens me with the power of knowledge and keeps me pondering and seeking answers for my questions.

Passion of Discovery

It is more important to choose research subjects that we are passionate about. There are roadblocks and challenges in the path of researching. Many tasks are tedious and repetitive. The paper revising process is frustrating and endless. I have to confess: I have projects sitting in my file-drawer and feel reluctant to revisit. However, for the projects I am truly interested in, I could stay motivated and excited with the small new findings and progress. It is the passion of discovery keep me going to overcome the challenges and to stay focused.

Relax Whenever Necessary

We have very limited time, while we have so many things to do with our family, teaching, researching, and socializing. We barely have time to take a break. But I would suggest anyone feeling burnout to take a break once a while. If we feel that we are stalled and going nowhere, why not stop reading, writing, cleaning, and anything we are planning to do, but watch some comedies or take a long night sleep. Yes, we need to work hard because we have pressure of publication and tenure, but we should also enjoy our life as a spouse, a parent, a child, and a friend, and spend time with people important to our life. We should treat ourselves fair, if not nice. Taking a break from what we are stressed about can often give us a new look later on.

The list can go on, but those learning is the most important for me to help me through my doctoral program. I believe those thoughts will continue to help me enjoy my future career as a scholar. But most important of all, quote from Dr. Cavusgil’s key-note speech during the hooding ceremony, “Take what life gives you. Don’t hesitate to embrace chance.”

Update: News from GSU CIBER: Jing Betty Feng Receives PhD, April 28, 2014

10/4/10

Preface: A Flat but Complicated World

First of all, I am so sorry for not being available to write the business blog for a while. So what have I being doing recently?

My PhD study in Marketing and International Business has started in August so I have been adjusted myself to get used to this challenging while intriguing student life. Very different from the learning in my MBA, which is quite practical for a business professional, the PhD learning is quite theoretical while beneficial for my future research. I am also glad for my choice of moving my concentration from supply chain management to international marketing and business. With my interest in international trading and global cultural, this transition provides me a broader platform to fulfill my career goal to comprehend international conflicts and to promote global conversation and fair trading.

As a Chinese origin, I of course will pay more attention to the growth of Chinese economy and its relationship with other nations. Recent frictions between Chinese and U.S. over Chinese currency appreciation and penalty tariffs against each other draw my attention. As an advocate of fair trading, I hate to see this kind of political game between nations which only hurt businesses and consumers as a result, especially between two important trading partners. However, there are too many misconceptions and misleading information regarding the root causes of job loss in American manufacturing, China obviously became an easy target to blame and be used as a scheme for political goals.

There are also much focus on the growth of China and many articles have discussed this new challenge to China. After decades of leapfrog growth, China is facing significant challenge to remain its double-digit annual GDP growth. A very recent HBR blog Will China’s Growth Slow Over the Next Decade by Liu Shengjun points out there are four dividends behind the growth miracle: population, reform, opening and resource. Facing the diminishing return of those dividends, Mr. Liu recommends the following consideration for China to create new dividends:

  • Eliminate discrimination against private enterprises.
  • Further reform state-operated enterprises
  • Promote innovation

Those recommendations are well analyzed and right to the point. However they may not be easy for the Chinese government to make such huge turnaround in the near future. Corruption at all levels of central and local governments will not allow such reform to be easy because many people in power will lose their advantage of authorization and grey income. To encourage innovation, China needs to first fight against the challenge or habit of plagiarism and copyright infringement, and establish a stronger IP protection law. Otherwise, the innovations by the enterprises are not able to be protected thus discouraging their investment in R&D. Overall, China needs a political reform in order to create those dividends. Right now, I do not see such push from the central government.

What will happen among nations and how will China and the U.S. can grow together? I do not know yet. We are now living in a flat but quite complicated world. I hope my future studies will soon bring me more knowledge to solve those puzzles regarding global trade issues and challenges. And of course, I wish to see my future research contributing to a “flatter world”.  I will keep everyone posted!