DBA Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Stefan Wuyts

Meet Dr. Stefan Wuyts, Executive DBA Professor of Marketing and Director of the Institute for the Study of Business Markets at Smeal. Discover the Marketing Management course he teaches, focusing on market orientation, marketing leadership, and practical aspects of branding, product development, distribution, and sales. Explore his research expertise in interorganizational relationships, buyer-supplier dynamics, alliances, and collaborative innovation in B2B marketing. Learn about the importance of B2B markets and the role of marketing in creating and capturing value in complex business environments. Gain insights into his research approach, which combines theoretical modeling and empirical testing. Visit his Smeal Directory profile for more information.

Dr. Stefan Wuyts, Professor of Marketing and Director of the Institute for the Study of Business Markets.



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Here, we introduce you to Dr. Stefan Wuyts, Professor of Marketing and Director of the Institute for the Study of Business Markets.

What DBA course(s) are you teaching?

MKTG 556: Marketing Management

What are you excited to cover/explore and why?

Marketing differs from other functions because of its outside-in approach. Many innovation initiatives and businesses have failed because of a lack of market insight. Since marketing drives organic growth, leaders of successful companies such as Apple or Amazon have almost religiously put the customer first. Meanwhile, other firms still focus rigidly on their current products and capabilities. We will discuss high-level questions about market orientation/excellence, marketing leadership, and financial accountability. We will also tackle practical questions about branding, new product development, distribution, and sales. I am excited to discuss how digital technology, new business models, and data analytics challenge our proven templates and models. I am excited to develop research ideas with the DBA students and refine–or replace–existing frameworks, so they withstand the test of time.

What are some of your main goals/expectations as a professor to DBA students?

The overarching goal is to learn from top marketing scholars, leading marketing practitioners, and each other. I expect DBA students to read both foundational articles and publications that are fresh from the press, so we can have in-depth discussions in class. I expect that DBA students will enrich these discussions with their own business insights, constructive criticisms, and creative ideas for theory refinement.

With this course, DBA students should develop a deep understanding of marketing strategy concepts and theories. Marketing is an applied science and many of the frameworks and models that we develop to explain marketing phenomena are based on foundational studies in economics and sociology. Equipped with theoretical insight, DBA students will engage in conceptual modeling, develop original ideas, formulate coherent arguments, and derive testable hypotheses.

At Penn State Smeal, the notion of lifelong learning is part of our DNA. We never stop learning. It is my goal to help DBA students approach important managerial questions with an open mind and a willingness to question, possibly refute, theories-in-practice.

It may be challenging for some to shift from a managerial mindset to an academic way of thinking, to let go of the specific industry context and search for empirical generalizations, and to search for falsification rather than confirmation. Yet, the scientific mindset and the scientific method are preconditions, in my view, to embark on a journey of lifelong learning and to tackle problems in business practice along the way.

How would you summarize your research expertise?

As a marketing strategy scholar, my main area of expertise is interorganizational relationships. Key areas include buyer-supplier relationships, alliances and business networks, board interlocks, platforms, marketing ecosystems, collaborative innovation, and business-to-business (B2B) marketing. What fascinates me the most is how firms can both create and capture value in complex interorganizational settings.

Why is it important to you?

First, why B2B marketing? The marketing field predominantly focuses on business-to-consumer (B2C) markets. This is due, in part, to a focus on consumer psychology in behavioral marketing and on big data in quantitative marketing models. In addition, B2B markets are inherently complex. The lack of attention to B2B markets stands in sharp contrast with their economic importance. Penn State Smeal is a center of excellence on B2B markets since the launch of the Institute for the Study of Business Markets (ISBM) in 1983. Hundreds of doctoral students (including yours truly, back in 2000) and faculty members worldwide have benefited from ISBM support. I have always been fascinated by interorganizational relationships and today, as ISBM Director, I am more aware than ever about their critical importance.

Interorganizational challenges are not unique to industrial markets. B2C firms collaborate with channel partners to service their customers. Innovative firms collaborate with industry partners to come up with the next big thing. The adage that no firm can go it alone holds true more than ever. How can firms cocreate and appropriate value in an increasingly complex environment (digital natives, platform firms, new technology and business models)?

Finally, it is important to consider how firms should organize for marketing. Market-oriented firms outperform others financially–yet, what does it mean to be market-oriented in today’s world? How can we develop better marketing strategies for a better world? What are the consequences for marketing strategy when firms strive for a more sustainable future?

How would you describe your research approach?

Most of my research starts from emerging phenomena in managerial practice. I love venturing into uncharted domains, even if that is not where we will find low-hanging fruit. Inspired by tension in prior literature, I then develop a conceptual (contingency) model and hypotheses. Often, interviews with practitioners help me improve my understanding of the phenomenon, capture theories-in-practice, and identify interesting variables. Empirically, I use quantitative research methods to test the developed theory using either primary (survey, experiments) or secondary data. In sum, my research focus is mostly on deduction and theory testing via falsification.

What was the most helpful advice you’ve received from a professor/manager that still holds true?

Great question. I learn from every student and colleague I work with. Yet, one piece of advice really stuck. Upon completion of my doctoral dissertation, my co-advisor advised me to allow for serendipity in my research career. I am not sure I fully grasped the meaning back then, but I have been thinking about it ever since, and today, it keeps me alert.

Great research ideas sometimes emerge from anomalies, strange deviations from “received wisdom.” We are tempted to dismiss them, yet luck favors the prepared. When you reserve time to explore in your busy schedule, you will eventually stumble into interesting research opportunities. Who knows where they’ll take you!

View Stefan's Smeal Directory profile