Seeking Win-Win-Win Outcomes: The Case of WebSurveyor

By Mark Mitchell, DBA
Chair, Dept. of Management, Marketing and Law
Professor of Marketing
E. Craig Wall Sr. College of Business Administration
Coastal Carolina University

Coastal Carolina University is a public comprehensive liberal arts institution located in Conway, South Carolina, just nine miles from the Atlantic coast resort community of Myrtle Beach. Located in one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the nation, the campus primarily serves its immediate operating area known as the "Grand Strand." Currently, the university serves over 7,600 students. The E. Craig Wall Sr. College of Business Administration has approximately 35 full-time faculty members serving over 1,900 students in Accounting, Economics, Finance, Management, Marketing, Professional Golf Management, and Resort Tourism Management.

The Wall College of Business is accredited by AACSB - The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. AACSB accreditation is a mission-driven process of continuous improvement modeled after the Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award (given annually by the U.S. Department of Commerce). Accredited institutions, such as Coastal, seek to fulfill their missions while continually assessing themselves against competitive, peer, and aspirant institutions as well as published accreditation standards.

The mission of the E. Craig Wall Sr. College of Business Administration is to educate each of our students to have the qualities and attributes essential to his/her progressive and continuing development throughout careers in private, public, and non-profit organizations in a globally competitive and diverse environment. Inherent in this mission is our commitment to the following objectives:

  • Teaching - We will teach the core business functions through applied, experiential, and active learning strategies facilitated by appropriate technologies.
  • Intellectual contribution - We will create and disseminate knowledge in business, which includes learning and pedagogical research, high value added contributions to practice, and discipline-based scholarship.
  • Public service - We will provide professional expertise to benefit the local, regional, national, and international community.
  • Stakeholder involvement - We will actively promote an open and collegial environment that includes input from students, staff, alumni, employers and other institutional stakeholders.

Statement of the Problem

In the best-selling book "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," author Stephen Covey encourages readers to "seek win-win relationships" in order to maximize their individual and group effectiveness. Leaders in the Wall College of Business seek to extend this typology to "seek win-win-win relationships" by encouraging the fusing of the academic roles of teacher, researcher, and service provider.

Research work helps to keep the faculty up-to-date in field. This enhances their teaching work and (assumedly) the learning outcomes of their students. Service work permits the faculty to apply their disciplines for the betterment of the local marketplace.
Research and service work enhance the ability to produce intellectual contributions. This is vitally important to AACSB-accredited business schools as the AACSB standards anticipate a faculty group producing a portfolio of intellectual contributions specific to their mission.

We seek to facilitate the work of the faculty by giving them the resources and support needed to combine their teaching, research, and service efforts to achieve a synergy (another of the Seven Habits!).

An Important Solution… WebSurveyor

A newcomer to Coastal Carolina University, this author had used an online survey tool by WebSurveyor at a prior institution. The use of online surveys greatly enhanced the integration of his teaching, research, and service work. Wishing to continue using WebSurveyor to support our teaching and research efforts at Coastal Carolina University, we applied to the Academic Grant program of WebSurveyor and were awarded a renewable 2-year grant, with a commercial value of $50,000, to use WebSurveyor.

Three projects illustrate how we are using WebSurveyor. In the first instance, leaders of a local ministry sought assistance to improve the performance of their Thrift Store (or Second-Hand Store). For their organization, improved store performance means more resources to provide food, clothing, income support, and other benevolences to those less fortunate. WebSurveyor was used to investigate donor and buyer perceptions of all Thrift Stores to provide a baseline for this service partnership. Students enrolled in Principles of Marketing (in conjunction with their instructor) conducted focus group interviews, developed and refined a multi-scale survey, collected data from their email networks, and reported their findings … all within the time constraints of the semester.

Later, this study was later replicated by students enrolled in the Marketing Strategy course. Senior-level marketing students were able to evaluate empirical research results (collected by them) and make strategy recommendations to important civic organizations as part of the course experience. Prepared case analysis was one component of the course. More compelling, however, was the use of the applied research project to fuse the link between marketing research and crafting marketing strategies based on outcomes of the research effort. The expanding data set is currently being used to craft manuscripts to submit to appropriate publication outlets. Teaching efforts were enhanced, as was faculty scholarship output.

In the second case, the local Chamber of Commerce wished to conduct a member satisfaction survey. WebSurveyor was used to transform their existing survey into a web-based project. For the research partner, the use of WebSurveyor allowed quicker data collection. For the instructor, the information was used in class discussions to examine the role of the Chamber of Commerce and to highlight possible programmatic changes based upon member input. Again, students were engaged in the discipline. Service was provided to important local partners. The results of this study are proprietary and will not likely be shared with others.

A third case, in conjunction with previous International Marketing students, utilized an online survey to assess the level of global awareness within the community. This same survey, with slight modification, is now used to establish a baseline of student awareness and perceptions prior to beginning the International Marketing course. As the class discusses items such as country-of-origin effects, time orientation, cross-cultural communication, the results of the survey are introduced for discussion. This has strengthened the International Marketing class by demonstrating existing perceptions (and misperceptions) and beliefs prior to the beginning of the course.

Implications Going Forward-the Broader Use of WebSurveyor

Conducting service-oriented class research projects with community partners allows faculty in the Wall College of Business to simultaneously address key mission-driven objectives (e.g., active learning, facilitated by appropriate technologies, serving our community, sharing the results of our work with others, and partnering for mutual benefit). Projects such as those outlined above are offered as demonstration projects for colleagues. We constantly discuss the value of integrating our teaching, research, and service work. Input from the faculty suggested interest in securing WebSurveyor for their collective use. We have done so. Now, we are developing projects in selected classes to serve as additional demonstration projects and to develop in-house trainers to facilitate the adoption of this tool (and paradigm) throughout the Wall College of Business. Like any new technology (and paradigm), full adoption will take time. That recognized, we hope to encourage the widespread use of on-line survey software (specifically, WebSurveyor) in the Wall College of Business.

The fusing of the roles of teacher, researcher, and service provider is a win-win-win outcome. The adoption of WebSurveyor can enhance the collective ability of the faculty to achieve such role integration. Faculty members become more effective in their multiple roles and more efficient as well. Now, we seek to promote more widespread adoption among the faculty to help others realize this same synergy.

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