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About Dr Jana Fiserova

I contribute to the world by using research to solve real-life problems. I work with businesses and by conducting rigorous research I help them grow. Established in applied economics and quantitative business research, I am currently working on projects focusing on Net Promoter and sales growth, social media use by micro and small enterprises, and the use of innovative approaches and technologies in higher education. I have contributed to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework with my doctoral research publication output on investment in human capital. I am enjoying my responsibility as director of the Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) programme and the opportunity to lead industry professionals to advancing their careers and contribute to further development of management practice.

How to sustain word-of-mouth advertising, the holy grail of marketing?

Staffordshire University is a proud regional university which is important to the local community, contributes to the local economy and society, and cooperates with local businesses. Indeed, we use our expertise to help businesses grow; by using sound research we can support practice by theory to help businesses make well-informed strategic decisions.

We are so committed to create a strong and sustainable relationship between industry and academia that we not only make our undergraduate and taught postgraduate curriculum practice-based, but we even have special doctoral programmes that are designed to contribute to the body of knowledge as well as to practice. Professional doctorates, as they generally referred to, are a great example of the relevance and importance of applied research (i.e. research that seeks to solve a real-life problem).

Doctor of Business Administration

Andrew Stephenson joined the Doctor of Business Administration programme when he was the Human Resource Director at DFS, a UK leading sofa manufacturer. DFS, like many firms all over the world adopted the Net Promoter System (NPS), a customer loyalty metric which was introduced by Frederick Reichheld in his paper ‘The one number you need to grow’, published in 2003 by the Harvard Business Review. The NPS is determined by asking customers one question, “How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?”. Customers are asked to record their answer on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 representing ‘not likely at all’ and 10 being ‘extremely likely’. Respondents are categorised in three groups – detractors (0-6), passives (7-8) and promoters (9-10). The Net Promoter Score is then determined by subtracting the proportion of detractors from the proportion of promoters. It is not surprising that NPS quickly gained popularity with management in many industries; the measure is very simple to calculate, it has face validity and intuitive appeal to managers and other stakeholders, and it is a comparable metric that companies seek to include in their reports. DFS was no exception and thus decided to start collecting information from their customers, including the ‘magic’ question.

Both DFS and Staffordshire University soon realised the potential of establishing a collaborative relationship on this project and the benefits such collaboration would bring to both institutions. Staffordshire University would be able to contribute to a success of a business through research; academics working on the project would use it to contribute to the University’s Research Excellence Framework submission; students would benefit from having their learning supported by practice-based cutting edge research. DFS on the other hand, would get answers to the numerous questions that needed answering so that they could drive their company forward. This led to DFS providing Staffordshire University with access to a large data set of responses to customer satisfaction surveys.

We have now cleaned up the data and set it up for econometric analysis which is already yielding some very interesting results that will not only contribute to the existing body of knowledge on NPS but also directly to industry practice. One of the aims of the project was to determine what drives customer propensity to recommend a brand. We used factor analysis to reduce the large number of survey questions to a manageable number of explanatory variables which we then used in a logistic regression model to determine what influences the likelihood of a customer becoming a promoter.

The most important factors have been identified to be satisfaction with product quality and sales experience, and the ability of the company to exceed customers’ expectations. Therefore if businesses get their product right, implement basic sales techniques to deliver great sales experience, and exceed customers’ expectations, customers will reward them with glowing recommendations which in turn will attract more promoters, creating a multiplier effect which will sustain the word-of-mouth advertising, the holy grail of marketing.

I am very excited to be a part of this project where cutting-edge industry practices meet cutting-edge research; where theory meets practice; where outputs of robust econometrical analysis are interpreted in business context and applied to make well-informed strategic decisions; and I very much look forward to discovering the endless possibilities and opportunities this project will bring.

By Dr Jana Fiserova

Doctor of Business Administration – a way to link industry with academia

Our Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) students are well established and recognised professionals in their fields in high-powered executive level jobs in various industries ranging from retail to corporate banking, from academia to government. One of our DBA students completed Staffordshire University’s Masters in Strategic Human Resource Management (HRM); another one had completed Staffordshire University’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) before joining the DBA programme, which demonstrates the varied progression options. Our DBA students come from diverse backgrounds both cultural and educational. They all have in common one thing though – they want to advance their careers as well as their respective fields, industries or companies through research.

Our DBA candidates use academic literature and rigorous research to develop new marketing metrics that will help firms in different industries predict their sales growth; they develop family business succession plans in countries where no such things exist; they investigate international trade opportunities in education services so that universities in their country can grow; some test existing models in new contexts, others develop new concepts and theories.

Such exciting collaboration enables Staffordshire University to be incredibly close to businesses at the highest level and contribute to their strategic decision making. One such example is a project that has spun out of a DBA research initiated by the HR Director of DFS.  A team of high calibre researchers presented findings directly to the DFS team and the cooperation flourishes. Read this post and this article to learn more.

In May our DBA students presented their research at a DBA symposium organised by the Chartered Association of Business Schools and Aston University Business School, where they worked with their peers from other DBA programmes and discussed their research under supervision of experienced academics, researchers and doctoral supervisors. The event was preceded by the Postgraduate Research Conference at Staffordshire University, to which our DBA students made a valuable contribution. In fact, authors of the very best papers were selected by the conference organisation committee to chair a session, giving students an important experience valued highly in academia. Later this year, our DBA students contributed to a very successful and productive DBA symposium organised by Cranfield School of Management and the British Association of Management in October. DBA candidates met with DBA supervisors, programme directors, and DBA students and graduates from universities all over the UK and abroad. Liaising with them enabled students to set a benchmark against the market standard and gauge their own progress. Debates and discussions about their research helped our students to develop confidence in articulating their research to specialist and non-specialist audiences. This is a key skill DBA candidates need to develop in order to be able to disseminate their research to practitioners as well as academics. This will also help them tremendously when they eventually defend their thesis during a viva voce examination.


Networking however doesn’t only happen at symposia or conferences. During the BAM symposium residential week our DBA students enjoyed an evening playing bowling with their peers and the Programme Director (who broke her finger trying to lift the side bars for them!). This was a great opportunity for our DBA candidates to get to know colleagues from other cohorts, who are in different stages of their doctorate, whilst trying something new as most of them had never bowled before. It strengthened the cohesion between and within cohorts and facilitated better teamwork and peer support amongst the DBA candidates, who are from different parts of the world.

To find out more about Staffordshire DBA contact the Programme Director
Dr Jana Fiserova, visit our website or follow us on Twitter #staffsDBA