Developing novel research that translates into real-world solutions is a primary focus at Washington University in St. Louis. For the last ten years, the Olin Business School has honored faculty members who conduct this kind of translational research with the Olin Award. The award recognizes impactful innovations that are then enacted in the marketplace.
“This rare award rewards relevancy and focuses on the exceptional intellectual capital that applies to real business issues,” said Richard J. Mahoney, former CEO of Monsanto and a Distinguished Executive-in-Residence at Olin where he initiated the $10,000 prize. “I can tell you from decades of corporate experience that academic research all too often is overlooked in the business realm. So here at Olin we strive to connect the innovation and evidence of our faculty with a business community where this science can directly benefit both enterprise and consumers.”
This year’s winner, Arun Gopalakrishnan, assistant professor of marketing, developed a framework for analyzing data to reveal insights into patterns of customer behavior over time. The mathematical model takes into account what it calls “regime changes” or past customer behavior changes that were influenced by new firm policy, government regulations, economic factors, competitors’ actions, or other unknown drivers of change.**
**Gopalakrishnan co-conducted the research with Eric T. Bradlow and Peter S. Fader, co-directors of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative and professors at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.