Can you give a brief summary of your career to date, and the journey that brought you here to us at University of Edinburgh Business School?
While studying for my Masters degree I realised that social media (or more the fear of) was impacting how I acted in ‘reality’. This was both scary and fascinating, so I did a PhD in that area and have since become an expert in social media. Lucky for me, Edinburgh liked my research and needed a social media nerd – so here I am!
If you had to give your ‘elevator pitch’ and explain in layman terms what your research focuses on, how would you answer?
We already knew that it is good for an employee’s career to be named positively in online customer reviews, however we didn’t know if this made them ‘up their game’ in the workplace. My recent research has found that being named in a review really does make an employee enhance their customer service – in fact, the mere indication that a customer is planning to write a review can be enough to make an employee go ‘above and beyond’ in their service. Overall, we showed that online reviews (or even a hint of them) provide a win-win-win situation for customers, employees and firms alike.
Is there anything exciting in the pipelines that you are working on, research-wise?
As we have shown that online reviews make employees and firms up their game, we are examining whether this phenomenon happens when customers can be reviewed online (on sites such as Airbnb and Uber). Our initial findings suggested that the answer to this may be ‘yes’.
What do you enjoy most about your teaching and research? What challenges and excites you across both?
I really enjoy designing and running experiments, and I get a serious buzz in analysing the results for the first time. It is hard to imagine how statistical values can be so exciting but they are. I also love collaborating with others as teamwork really does make the dream work. Research has many challenges, and big projects can often turn in often very long, rocky roads with highs and lows. However, these are boosted or buffered when shared as a team! I also really love teaching research methods and strategy to the PhD researchers.
What do you enjoy most about working at UEBS?
I most enjoy the supportive nature of the environment, and how open and understanding my colleagues are. Also, living and working in Edinburgh (in my opinion the best city in the UK) isn’t bad.
What advice would you give to your younger self, about to leave home and embark upon further education?
Life is like a box of chocolates you never know what you will get. My plan was to be an investment banker on starting my undergraduate studies. I’m not sure I even knew what an academic was at this point, and had certainly had no idea I would become one. My advice would be roll with what you think is interesting, and not what everyone else is doing.
What beloved item would you take with you to a Desert Island?
My Xbox Series X, with Call of Duty Warzone installed.
If you could invite anyone over for dinner (past/present) who would it be and why?
My grandparents, as they never got to meet my daughter.
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Super Nintendo World, Osaka Japan so I could finally be in the world I spent so much time in virtually.
UEBS Research - Dr Ben Marder
Ben Marder discusses his research on revealing the unintended consequences of marketing technologies, particularly in the context of online reviews, uncovering how the mere imagination of reviews prompts employees to provide exceptional service.