What does Research mean to me?

Prof. Shaphali Gupta
Professor, MICA, Ahmedabad (View Full Profile)


Education is the most powerful weapon which one can use to change the world

With these powerful words spoken by Nelson Mandela, I would like to offer my deep gratitude and thanks to BIMTECH, the award jury, and the profound inspiration behind this award, late Shri. B K Birla ji and Smt. Sarla Devi Birla Ji.

Hello, everyone and it is indeed a pleasure to be here and I Shaphali Gupta, Professor of Marketing at MICA, Ahmedabad  congratulate BIMTECH on its 33rd Foundation day and on this prestigious award inaugural ceremony.

In my childhood, I thought I was born to be a pilot, in fact, my dream was to be an air force pilot and serve our nation and keep flying in the skies. However, I could not pass the Pilot Aptitude Battery Test in a timely manner, and decided to study business management to join the corporate world. While corporate life was challenging and exciting, my curiosity was never fulfilled. Therefore, I joined IIT Mumbai to pursue my doctorate degree.

The journey as a research scholar was transformative

as I learnt the art of self-learning and thinking outside the box. This learning later provided me with the confidence to work independently and to co-create knowledge with the best minds across the globe in the field of marketing, and also to develop a stream of work related to the area of my passion.

“What am I passionate about”?

There is no substitute for hard work, and the sustained outcomes are realized only when you work with passion, sincerity and perseverance. While I work in the area of marketing strategy, customer engagement, advertising strategy. I am passionate working for emerging markets, in this regards, with the Bottom-of-the Pyramid segment as the focus, I chose to work in the area of Innovation.

Specifically, my articles on Grassroots Innovation, Reverse Innovation, and Social Innovation explore and emphasize on the most pressing issues and need for the success of these innovations emanating from the emerging markets. These innovations exhibit the potential to generate employment and provide a secure future for millions of people who could not afford higher education. Specifically, a country like India can benefit significantly from the findings of these studies.

Subsequently, I worked with a team of scholars to explore the conditions under which a continuous innovation can create a profitable customer base while conventional wisdom suggests that radical innovation may be the most profitable path for organizations. This type of research generates a lot of interest worldwide since what is known to be working is suddenly questioned and even proved wrong.

While the area of Innovation is the starting point for my research, I focus on Customer Engagement as the end goal.  When a customer engages with a firm or a brand, it results in the highest state of bonding whereby a customer not only purchases the brand but also provides referrals, acts as an influencer in social media, and provides valuable feedback to the selling firm. Firms expend a lot of resources to move a customer from transaction-oriented to relationship-oriented to engagement-oriented. Our research studies have shown the way for firms to build such powerful engagement with their customers.

One of the ways I have my feet grounded in India in all my research studies is to work in the context of Emerging Markets, and where appropriate, compare it to Developed Markets.  It is encouraging to see that we live in a time where both academia and businesses globally are hungry to know more about emerging markets, such as India.  Also, when our research work gets accepted in top tier academic journals and receive a high number of citations over the years, the academic journey becomes meaningful.

What does Research mean to me?

In my opinion, over the period of time, we have stopped contemplating enough; we have stopped discovering enough and have started paying more attention to the learnings imported from the western world. This is what we typically disseminate to our students, especially in the field of management. Even now in most of the business schools, we are sharing the frameworks and concepts that are developed for the western markets in our classrooms. Business problems and solutions are context-driven!!

The emerging-market context is so very different from the developed markets. Hence, Having a global reference is good to have, but the development of organic framework and concepts are necessary to help our home-grown businesses as well as multinational firms who want to do business in our countries.

How can we make Research happen systematically?

It is critical, that as a nation we invest more in research at all levels. I feel that research should be an integral component of learning from childhood and I am sure that the new education policy is a sincere effort towards attaining it. At the university level, we need a collegial partnership among all the stakeholders to create an ecosystem to develop the best minds for the future and to make them stay in our country and contribute to the growth of our society.

Therefore, we need the best training and mentorship at the doctorate level along with enough financial and research support in the training process. Also, We need more institutions, which can provide enough time and support to research oriented faculty members and value research quality as a key component along with other key components – teaching, and mentoring.


What led me to where I am today?

During my academic career, while working with the best institutions in the country, I received the exposure of interacting with many business leaders from various industries when they attended my executive education classes. As a result, the importance of doing relevant research became the foremost goal, and of course with rigor.

As I started to attending conferences and consortiums both at international and national level, I became more and more passionate about the art and science of doing quality research and publishing in scholarly journals so that one day I can transfer the knowledge to the hungry minds in our home country. Here I would like to give a special mention to the annual Academy of Indian Marketing Doctoral Consortiums (special thanks to its founders Prof.  Jagdish Sheth and Prof. V. Kumar), which provides a great platform of interaction and learning with global scholars and the curious minds in India.

My Heartfelt Appreciation to this Award Sponsor

It is indeed a pleasure to be here receiving this prestigious B K Birla distinguished research scholar award at the highest level given for the consistent record of publishing in top tier quality journals, in the last five years. Given the fact, this is a national-level award, and not just in the field of Management but also includes the social sciences domain, the magnitude of this award is multifold. I feel honoured and humbled to receive this award.

Awards like this provide motivation and a sense of satisfaction to every scholar that years of hard work can be acknowledged and appreciated by the fraternity. This kind of recognition is not only encouraging to the recipients but also to the emerging scholars and PhD students realizing that a sustained Quality of Research gets noticed.

Forces behind me that nudge me to where I am today?

I dedicate this award to all those who constantly provided me with the motivation and support in my journey as an academician and more particularly as a researcher. My earnest and sincere gratitude towards my parents, to my academic mentor, to all my co-authors, my students, and the larger academic fraternity I belong to. Every one of them has inspired me in different capacities and have allowed me to learn from them so that I can build excellence in this research odyssey.

Next, I thank my current school, MICA, for its incredible support in terms of valuing my work and providing me with the time and generous support to continue to march on this path. I am deeply grateful for the presence of an outstanding group of administrators, faculty and staff at MICA who constantly inspire me towards sustained excellence.

And most importantly, I would like to express my gratitude to my family for all the sacrifices they made all this while. For example, they dealt with my long working hours during the week and over the weekends, and provided me with the unconditional support and time so that I could work on my research.

My heartfelt gratitude to my husband and my 9-year-old son who have lived this whole journey with me from me being a PhD scholar to receiving this distinguished research scholar award, with their high level of understanding and unconditional love.

Closing Thanks

Finally, I am elated to sense that we are in interesting times where we are on the path of exploration and progression, As a nation, we are gradually making headway to attain a complete sphere of academics, i.e., knowledge contemplation, knowledge discovery and knowledge dissemination. I find myself fortunate to be blessed to be in academics and to be a part of this expedition, and be able to contribute to the growth of the discipline.

Once again, I express my gratitude to the award committee members and BIMTECH for giving me this honor. Thank You All for your time in listening to my academic journey thus far.  Please keep in mind that I am still traveling with no sight of destination in mind. It is the learning experience that fuels my journey constantly. Thank You!






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