MBA student receives Foster College Dean’s Award

MBA student Candace Esken ’13, right, presents her research.

April 25, 2013

By Kelsey Budd ’14

Bradley MBA student Candace Esken ’13 received the Foster College of Business Dean’s award for her research project presented at the University’s Graduate Research Expo this past month.

Esken was encouraged to participate in the expo by Dr. Jennifer Robin, professor of business management and administration in Foster College. She had worked with Robin in last year’s scholarship exposition and was interested this year in presenting her own research.

Finding a topic that built on existing research was one of the most challenging aspects of her study, said Esken. Her research was inspired from her personal work experience and real-life events and primarily revolved around the values of an organization and what happens when those values shift suddenly. She hypothesizes that when organizations “inoculate” employees against bad news, worker will have more constructive responses and higher levels of commitment than if they were not prepared.

“My study focused on how organizations can anticipate situations their employees may face after positive or negative news is released. When organizations prepare employees for such situations,” Esken said, “it can reduce the likelihood of psychological contract breach and result in higher levels of commitment from employees.”

Robin guided Esken with her research and collaborated with Esken throughout the course of the study. Through their partnership, both were able to develop the topic and analyze related literature.

“Esken has an academic mind. She has good ideas about research questions and has gained the ability to boil those down into answerable hypotheses,” Robin said. “This will serve her well in graduate school and beyond.”

In order to test her hypothesis, Esken gathered data in a lab setting from 100 students in the business college. She is currently in the process of analyzing and drawing conclusions from the collected data.

Esken said she never anticipated the amount of academic opportunities she would have at Bradley. The relationships she formed with professors as well as the education she received have prepared her to attend Louisiana State University for her doctorate in organizational behavior.

“This award is a testament to everything I have learned from my professors over the last couple years,” Esken said. “It represents their hard work just as much as mine.”