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SXU Professor Regina McNally Helps Run Top Academic Conference


Saint Xavier University's (SXU) Regina McNally, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Division of Management and Marketing for the Graham School of Management (GSM), recently helped run the Innovation and Product Development Management Conference (IPDMC). The conference is an academic conference about innovation research that takes place at a different university every year in Europe.

McNally, who's been involved with the conference since 2010, has co-hosted it in 2014 while at the University of Limerick and has been on the Scientific Committee ever since. As part of her responsibilities on the committee, McNally helps with the conference by chairing sessions, reviewing papers, working with the organizers on ad hoc tasks and offering ideas for the future of the conference.

The 2020 conference was originally supposed to take place in Antwerp, Belgium, but was moved online in response to COVID-19. Though the board was worried about the transition, it turned out to be a success, with attendance and the number of papers presented at similar levels of a face-to-face conference. McNally chaired two Zoom conference sessions, which were live-streamed through the IPDMC website. "It was really exciting to be part of such a successful transition from a face-to-face conference to a virtual conference in just a few short months. Plus, I learned a new word: phygital – physical and digital!" said McNally.

McNally believes the conference helped her learn several things that will be important for teaching and research in the fall semester. "I learned that formalization in digital innovation development projects is important, but the way in which formalization is implemented differs from the typical formalization through reporting structures. One conference award-winning paper finds that using the scrum team approach, which emphasizes tight formal operations in self-managed teams to achieve collaboration and flexibility is the best way to develop high-performing digital products, so it's important to balance formalization through a formal process in cross-functional teams," said McNally, who will use the information within her business strategy course.

During the upcoming fall semester, McNally will also teach a new course, Software for Business Analytics, designed to prepare undergraduates to use Excel and Tableau through their undergraduate classes and into their career. McNally learned about how innovation in the human elements, such as employee creativity, or non-technological process innovation is potentially understudied in consumer's service experience literature. "In the Service Innovation track I chaired, a marketing academic collaborated with a mechanical engineering academic to identify under-researched domains in service innovation. This big data approach, as well as the service innovation domain, which concerns the innovation and design of public services and the transformation value brought about by service practices, is especially relevant to GSM, and will help us work on impactful research that supports the GSM vision," said McNally.

McNally has taught online courses in the past, so the transition to remote teaching was comfortable for her, though she knows there is always room for improvement. She plans to design her fall courses to include online content for each week's topics and class time to work through discussions and problems. "The great thing about GSM is that all my colleagues truly enjoy working with our students, who are hard-working and motivated. We like getting to know them and coaching them as they learn important business ideas and skills. We are looking forward to integrating our face-to-face teaching skill with what we are learning about teaching online, which will help our students learn online networking skills, as well as how to adapt to changing circumstances," said McNally.

In McNally's classes, she works to help students integrate all they have learned in their core business courses with how necessary it is for business strategy to take a cross-discipline view. Through engaging discussions about real-world business situations described in videos and articles in the business press, McNally leads her students to understand business strategy. "I'm also excited to begin teaching business analytics because they are critical now and for the future. My research helps with both, because innovation is fundamental to strategy and analytics skills are fundamental to research and decision-making," said McNally.

 In the future, McNally plans to submit academic articles and to continue to attend the two top academic conferences in her research area – the IPDMC held in June and the Product Development Management Association (PDMA) Research Forum held in November, which she is a track chair for. "This is a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the field while keeping up-to-date on research results," said McNally.