Might you be a McNair Scholar? If you are, then you know what I'm talking about. If you aren't, well click on the ol' link and learn more, because it's an awesome, life-altering program. It certainly changed my life. I wouldn't have even thought of being an academic, or had a competitive application for enrolling in a PhD program, had I not been one of the earliest McNair Scholars during my undergrad days at the University of Missouri. If you squint real hard, you can see a 20-year-old me in this pic, mullet & all.
Anyhoo, I wonder if it might be feasible to create a network of, say, "McNair Management Mentors", drawn from those of us who have gone through the program, come out the other side, and know first-hand of its value. The McNair Program currently operates in 187 universities, but I don't think there's a network that extends across the alumni of these programs, or at least not one in Management that I'm aware of.
Creating a McNair Management Mentors group could make a tremendous difference in bringing underrepresented scholars into this important field. I'm in awe of what The PhD Project has accomplished, and I think that a coordinated McNair Program effort could compound this. I know that's a very high bar. But hear me out . . . The scholarships and the infrastructure are already there, across the US (yes, it's just a US program). What is lacking is a set of management scholars to draw promising undergrads toward management scholarship as the topic of their McNair experience.
I suspect that most of you reading this who are at a university with a McNair Program don't know that the program exists. And that's the problem. The bottleneck is with mentors, not eligible students. McNair Scholars can pursue projects in any discipline across the university, and generally business schools and management departments therein attract few McNair Scholars because they offer few mentors. With a coordinated effort, we can encourage management faculty across these 187 schools (the list evolves; if your school is not on it now, it may be in the future) to sign up with their local McNair Program as a mentor. This would draw business school students to apply to the McNair Program, and ensure that more of them take on management topics.
We can also coordinate projects. One of the reasons why management/business scholars don't sign up to mentor under this program, even if they are aware of it, is because our scholarship may not be easily amenable to undergraduate research within the timeframe of the McNair Program. Collectively, we could develop a set of projects that would work. Part of the McNair Program is having the students attend a professional conference. We could also meet as a group at the annual AOM Meeting to provide additional mentoring to these students (assuming humans are again allowed to gather). Also, we could perhaps offer webinars and other networking opportunities that span our individual campuses and thereby help these students to place in PhD programs and succeed therein and thereafter.
That's my sales pitch. But I don't know who I'm selling this to. Can you please help me to find McNair Scholar alum in the AOM (and beyond – perhaps we make this a business school level thing, not just within management)? I'm sending this to the lists that I have access to, but I don't have access to send to AOM in general, so if you can forward to your networks, I'd appreciate it. If you are a McNair Scholar, or have any leads on who is, please send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1990-91 McNair Scholar
Michael L. Barnett
Professor of Management & Global Business, and Dean's Research Professor
Rutgers Business School – Newark & New Brunswick
Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&pli=1&user=27_fCmIAAAAJ
Academic Director, Rutgers Institute for Corporate Social Innovation
Distinguished "Star" Visiting Professor, Social Innovations Group, EGADE Business School, Tecnologico de Monterrey
Fellow, Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership
International Research Fellow, Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation
Latest book, Limits to Stakeholder Influence: https://www.e-elgar.com/shop/limits-to-stakeholder-influence