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Big Ideas: Ravi Sohi

May 8 2012 6:00 PM
Ravi Sohi
The road to recognition in academic research is a long one. Yet the necessity of time makes it all the more meaningful to Dr. Ravi Sohi, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs and Research at the UNL College of Business Administration, who recently was awarded the 2012 Louis W. Stern Award by the American Marketing Association.

“We are honored to receive this award,” Sohi said, referring to himself and co-authors UNL marketing Ph.D. alum, Dr. Jean Johnson, and Dr. Rajdeep Grewal, currently at Penn State University Smeal College of Business. “The past winners have included some very big names in the field of marketing.”

The Stern Award recognizes an outstanding article published in a highly respected refereed journal that has made a significant contribution to the literature on marketing and channels of distribution. Articles are eligible for consideration between three and eight calendar years after publication. Sohi and his co-authors were bestowed the award for their article, “The Role of Relational Knowledge Stores in Interfirm Partnering,” published in the Journal of Marketing in 2004. The selection committee, comprised of three leading marketing scholars from around the world was impressed by the article based on several factors, including its high degree of impact and the important managerial implications of its findings, notably in times of economic turbulence and crisis.

Sohi originally began working on this research project after meeting Dr. Johnson at a marketing seminar she gave when she came back to visit Nebraska in the late 90’s. The research is in the context of business-to-business marketing. Most of the work that had been done to that point stressed the significance of long-term relationships with business partners.

Ravi Sohi

Ravi Sohi at the College of Business Administration

“An important question was what could companies do to build these relationships?” Sohi explained. “The conventional thinking at the time was that developing long-term relationships required investment in costly marketing resources. However, my co-authors and I wanted to explore other options.”

Their research drew on a concept called organizational learning – the process by which companies collect information and convert it to usable knowledge. The basic premise of the paper was that knowledge is an intangible resource that provides companies with the necessary capability to cultivate relationships with their business partners. Their study showed that by developing and leveraging knowledge in three core areas --- interacting with business partners; management of supply-chain functions; and knowledge about the external operating environment --- companies can create high quality and effective relationships, especially when they are operating in an uncertain environment.

The award winning article came out of a larger study on which Sohi and Johnson had collaborated. Johnson traveled to Nebraska several times to work on the research with Sohi. Over the years, Johnson has seen their work influence colleagues around the world.

“I realized that the article was having an impact in the field when other scholars mentioned that they were using it in seminars,” Johnson said, “but I did not know that it would ever earn such a prestigious award. Ravi was a great colleague and that made the project all the more satisfying.”
 
Dr. William Perrault, Jr., a leading marketing scholar and the W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, was on the selection committee for the 2012 Stern Award. He reiterated the real achievement of the award being the length of time the research has endured. “Now that you’ve survived the real test of time and contribution I hope it’s exhilarating to know that your work has earned its way into a position where your colleagues around the world view it as among the best exemplars of research in the field,” Perrault said to the recipients upon announcing the winner.

Sohi and his colleagues will officially be presented with the award at the American Marketing Association’s national conference being held in Chicago, Ill., in August.