Major research axes
The Chair currently focuses on several areas of expertise, including the following two. It should be noted that most of the research is conducted in a retail context.
- the occurrence of conflicts between customers and firms;
- their resolution process.
It is important to stress that the Chair transcends the study of these specific topics and is also interested in supporting researchers and graduate students in pursuing other quality projects on retail management and service marketing. Below is an overview of three areas of interest:
- Occurrence of conflicts. In the last fifteen years, the Chairholder (Yany Grégoire) and his co-authors have devoted much of their efforts to understanding customers’ responses to serious conflicts with retail firms. In particular, they have developed a research stream on customer revenge, defined as customers’ efforts to punish and hurt firms for the damages they have caused. Through a series of articles published in top academic outlets (e.g., JM, JAMS, JR, JSR) and practitioner journals (e.g., Sloan, Business Horizons), these researchers have defined and measured customer revenge, examined its specific antecedents, and identified its dangerous behavioral manifestations. This newly developed area of research has quickly gained in popularity with the advent of social media, which has greatly empowered customers in their ability to get even with firms. Indeed, the fast development of mobile applications is probably the key enabler that has made customer revenge a serious threat for firms and a popular research topic.
- Resolution management. The next logical step is to build on the knowledge created in the first area (i.e., understanding conflicts) to help retail firms prevent the occurrence of costly conflicts and to test the effectiveness of resolution interventions. By the same token, the Chair became interested in helping customers deal more constructively with their desire for revenge, which is linked to poor well-being. In other words, researchers are now turning their attention to the resolution process that should follow conflicts.
- Potential high-impact topics. In order to be successful in the long term, the Chair is also building on the research programs of a group of individuals. It contributes by providing resources (funding, databases, contacts with organizations, feedback, scholarships, etc.) or by synchronizing co-supervision efforts. Depending on opportunities and market trends, the Chair invests time and resources in the following specific areas: qualitative methods applied to customer experience, understanding customer experience, “design thinking” workshops, longitudinal models applied to retail management, impact of price on customer behavior, and physiological measures (with the Tech3Lab).
Three strategic activities to support the mission
Research in the three major axes is supported by three principal activities:
- Establishing deep roots in HEC Montréal. The Chair’s ambitious projects cannot be carried out by a single individual. It is therefore built on strong “in-house” foundations. Since its inception, the Chair has been involved in numerous collaborative projects with a dozen or so HEC Montréal professors. The Chairholder is also invested in other fora of the School. He sits on the Steering Committee of the Global Experience Panel and the Sales Institute. He is also a member of the Tech3Lab. To sum up, the Chair should become a place where HEC Montréal professors with different skills and interests can collaborate. The Chair would also like to actively collaborate on research initiatives at the School, including those of the Department of Marketing.
- Developing a new generation of researchers and practitioners. Graduate students are the soul of a successful Chair, and this Chair recruits and supports as many MSc and PhD students as possible (approximately one dozen per year). In fact, the Omer DeSerres Chair and the two other Chairs in Marketing are responsible for funding the PhD program in marketing. Support to students represents by far the largest part (between 60-65%) of the budget. Supervision is one of the main tasks of the Chair’s members, and they try to perform this task with diligence and goodwill.
- Building an external and international network. As previously stated, the Chair seeks to start from within, based on the resources and people at HEC Montréal. However, this ambitious project cannot be fully accomplished if the Chair is not recognized beyond the School. Through a series of activities — such as a program of visiting scholars, a series of seminars, active participation in marketing conferences and representation on editorial boards — the Chair aims to identify and work with the best international talents. Equally important, the Chair also seeks to have a strong presence in Montréal and Quebec through its involvement in the Cercle Omer DeSerres and teaching at Executive Education HEC Montréal.