Dean's awards support research focused on Newfoundland and Labrador

l-r Drs. Chansoo Park, Gordon Cooke, Majid Eghbali-Zarch

From left: Drs. Chansoo Park,
Gordon Cooke and Majid Eghbali-Zarch
have won 2015 Dean’s Strategic Research Awards.

July 3, 2015

Three researchers at Memorial’s Faculty of Business Administration have secured 2015 Dean’s Strategic Research Awards.

Drs. Gordon Cooke, Majid Eghbali-Zarch and Chansoo Park will conduct research on topics including youth rural employment, small- and medium–sized enterprises (SMEs) and competitive advantage and innovation. All three projects have important implications for community sustainability in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dr. Cooke’s project is “Rural labour market challenges: The location-education-employment decision.” Rural youth face economic and other challenges, and Dr. Cooke examines rural youths’ decision whether or not to stay in remote locations such as the Burin Peninsula. This research will help public policy to better support youth to stay and flourish in rural areas, strengthening these communities’ socio-economic fabric.

Dr. Cooke has looked at the issues facing older workers in rural areas for several years.

“One thing that gets mentioned frequently is that ‘things are different for young people now,’ or ‘the young people have to move away,’” he says. “So, as a result, we are now looking at the complicated and gut-wrenching choices that young rural citizens often have to face (or choose to ignore).”

Dr. Cooke collaborates with Sara L. Mann, associate professor, University of Guelph and Bronwyn Cass, Jenny Burns and Kyle Vardy, recent graduates of Memorial’s master of employment relations (MER) program, on this project. He has also published a book chapter on young rural workers in Youth Unemployment and Joblessness: Causes, Consequences, Responses.

Dr. Eghbali-Zarch’s focus is the “Internationalization of Newfoundland SMEs,” which play a significant role in the provincial economy and employ about 90 per cent of workers. Yet provincial SMEs are encountering obstacles such as limited access to large markets. This project explores these constraints and proposes internalization as a solution that could lead to these businesses’ growth and prosperity.

“My research on the internationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises in Newfoundland is timely and important for the province’s economy,” says Dr. Eghbali-Zarch. These enterprises “constitute a significant share of businesses in Newfoundland. They face idiosyncratic obstacles in their international endeavors.”

Dr. Park’s project is “Market challenges, strategic orientations, and their impacts on innovation: Evidence from Newfoundland and Labrador.” He investigates how firms create a competitive advantage within the province’s particular context such as the oil and gas industry’s dominance. This research will provide evidence of how strategic orientations facilitate local firms’ innovation and international competitiveness.

“A challenge in a market can pose potential threats or generate complex problems,” says Dr. Park. “This study examines market challenge as an antecedent to the development of strategic orientations, which in turn influence innovation outcomes.”

The Dean’s Strategic Research competition was created in 2011 by Dr. Wilfred Zerbe, dean of the Faculty of Business Administration. It provides teaching remissions to support research on topics important to Newfoundland and Labrador. Funded projects address questions of scholarly importance and value while contributing to improved understanding of business problems and issues of strategic importance.

“The Faculty of Business Administration has a strong record of engaging in high-quality teaching, research and public engagement activities that support Newfoundland and Labrador businesses, while also contributing to the understanding and practice of management nationally and internationally,” says Dr. Zerbe. “This award supports our researchers in undertaking work that offers solutions to challenges facing provincial organizations and employees.”

Kate Scarth