Research Labs in Business and Economics and NVGLOBE-L
January 29, 2021
By Mehmet S. Tosun, Professor and Director of International Programs, UNR College of Business
University research labs are very common in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and related fields. Those labs serve an important purpose for faculty and students. Students learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills, with hands-on experience with real world issues that help them in their future careers in academia, government or the private sector. Faculty benefit from having research assistance from students, receiving grants through those labs and furthering their research agenda. In the U.S., the federal government supports research programs in universities, whereas state governments provide more operational funding. According to an article by the Pew Charitable Trusts, total federal research funding to higher education was $26.5 billion, which was the second largest spending category after the federal Pell grants and 2.6 times greater than the state government funding for research, agriculture and medical education. National Science Foundation (NSF) provides grant funding to business and economics fields particularly through its Directorates for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) and Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), which includes Information and Intelligence Systems. In addition to NSF, other government agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health, and a lot of private foundations also support research in business and economics fields.
Research labs, especially in science and engineering, are the major recipients of the federal research support. Labs in fields other than STEM are less common but they still exist. There are many examples of labs that are located in business schools. Brandeis International Business School houses the Bloomberg Business and Economics Lab, which has a focus on finance and market analysis using a variety of software and databases. Stanford Graduate School of Business’ Real-Time Analysis and Investment Lab (RAIL) is another lab with finance and investment focus. Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal College of Business has the Laboratory for Economics, Management and Auctions (LEMA). There are innovation labs such as Northwestern University’s Business Innovation Lab. Behavioral and experimental labs are also very popular and are usually placed in business schools. In fact, the website “gametheory.online,” lists 151 experimental economics labs in 27 countries, with the United States leading with 52 labs. The University of Arizona Eller School of Management’s Economic Science Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Behavioral Lab, University of California Santa Barbara’s Experimental and Behavioral Economics Laboratory (EBEL) are well-known examples of such labs in the U.S. Some universities, like Stanford Graduate School of Business and the University of Maryland, have multiple labs. University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business has a financial markets lab, a behavioral lab, and an international business lab. Their International Business Agility Labs specialize in virtual case competition for undergraduate students and allow participation of students from their international partners.
Inspired by a plethora of labs in various disciplines, including the ones in business and economics, we decided to start a new research lab in the College of Business. The Nevada Global Business and Economics Lab (NVGLOBE-L) was announced in the Europe-Nevada Global Summit in Croatia on March 6, 2020 during a trade and education mission to Europe organized by the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). It was delayed, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was formally launched in Fall 2020.
NVGLOBE-L will bring faculty and students together in projects with real-world applications. Students are hired as research associates and work in teams with other students and faculty members. Most projects will be relatively short-term such as a summer project, but there could be longer-term projects depending on the funding availability. Faculty mentors will be mostly from UNR but there may be mentors from outside the university, including those from our international partner institutions. We are in the process of forming working groups in different research areas. We also plan to enrich the lab with events, collaborative projects, case competitions, experiments and partnerships with other institutions. A Distinguished Lecture Series is being launched this semester. We will have three speakers with reputations in policy research, and national and international policy advice. There will be two virtual symposiums or webinars, a webinar jointly with the World Bank’s Governance Global Practice on February 25th, and a symposium jointly with the SGH Warsaw School of Economics on April 22-23. A collaborative agreement with the SGH’s New Economy Lab is also in the works. Stay tuned for more exciting developments related to our new lab and please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions or if you would like to be involved.