For Brian Thompson, understanding and
interpreting the research behind how the market works is key to helping both his
clients and his students make well-informed investment decisions.
Thompson manages his own investment advisory
business, teaches finance and economic courses as an adjunct business professor
at DePaul University, and also is a student in DePaul’s
Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program, where
he is gaining advanced skills for turning business research into actionable
This summer, Thompson will present a research paper at the Behavioral Finance
Working Group Conference hosted by the Queen Mary University of London.
Thompson co-authored the paper with DBA candidates Erik Davidson and David
Stubing as part of a project milestone in DePaul’s DBA program.
The Kellstadt Graduate School of Business launched the part-time, three-year DBA
program in fall 2015 to empower experience professionals like Thompson to take
their careers to the next level. The program targets executives who want to
enhance their research acumen to discover new solutions for business problems,
as well as experienced business professionals who want to enter academia.
The program challenges candidates to complete a year-long research project with
three to four team members from their class cohort. Using the skills they’ve
gained from coursework in research methods and statistics, each team is tasked
with developing a thesis that solves a real-world business problem with the
help of an experienced business faculty advisor.
Learn more about the Doctorate in Business Administration program
Thompson’s research paper “Does Investor Sentiment Affect Market Response to
Earnings Restatements?” found that if investors feel good about the market,
they are less likely to be worried when companies restate their earnings.
As a principal of an investment advisory business, Thompson, who is in the Class
of 2019 DBA cohort, says his experience in developing and completing
original research allows him to gain credibility and have more informed discussions
“I think in terms of the research project itself, it also grounds the
discussions I have in my classes at DePaul,” he says. “It makes (my
discussions) stronger because now I can speak to things from a more informed perspective.”
Solving Complex Business Problems
After a year of working on research, the DBA student teams discussed their
projects during formal presentations to DBA faculty and other cohorts within
the program. DBA Program Director Bob Rubin, a DePaul management professor and
business consultant, met with the group to discuss feedback submitted by
audience members following the presentation.
“We’re really committed to student learning in this process,” Rubin says. “Students
want to present and publish their papers. But as the program director, my
primary concern is that students are learning the research process so that when
they get to their dissertation, they really understand the scope of the project
and execute it with fewer mistakes and fewer flaws than they would in their
first time through.”
Thompson’s group worked with Vahap Uysal, an associate professor of finance, who
provided feedback throughout their project and helped facilitate the submission
of the team’s paper to the London conference.
For Thompson, one of the biggest challenges of the research project was
learning how to work in a team setting, given that DBA candidates are
experienced professionals with their own schedules and full-time jobs.
“It’s kind of like building a house,” he says. “There are a lot of different
parts to it and you have to specialize in different areas and try to work
together to produce the outcome you’re looking for.”
In order to develop a working thesis that provides new insights in the
behavioral finance field, Thompson says their faculty advisor emphasized the
importance of conducting a thorough literature review.
“That’s the power of having someone who knows what has been done and what
hasn’t been done so that you’re not spinning your wheels and doing things that
aren’t going to be relevant in the end,” he says.
In addition to taking courses in quantitative and qualitative research,
business strategy and organizational development, DBA students use the research
project as preparation to reach their
own professional goals—whether they want to transition to full-time academia or
become business leaders at the highest level in their industries.
“The project starts to extend what they are learning in class in a way that
takes them from knowing to doing,” Rubin says. “You learn in
class how to set up a research project – what are the key steps you take, what
are the decision points you have to make at any given point in the research
process, but doing that effectively is an entirely different beast, so we want
to give students that hands-on experience to apply what they’re learning in the
classroom. We want them to solve real problems that organizations face.”