Guest article by Daniel Blanche for our My Academic Role Model series.

Intentionally, or otherwise, we follow in the footsteps of those who precede us. Role models are fundamentally important always, but I would argue that, in academic life, they are particularly so at the outset. I made my decision to undertake a PhD in 2007, following in the footsteps of my older brother Alejandro, who had, at that moment, almost finished his PhD in Veterinary Science. Alejandro has always been, to me, an example of responsibility, self-confidence and perseverance.

Just at that point, Professor Carlos Flavián phoned me to offer me a PhD candidate position at the University of Zaragoza, Spain. We later met, with Luis V. Casaló (over beers in a bar), and they explained to me how they worked and proposed an academic plan for the following years. I accepted and, following their advice, and a lot of hard work, the plan worked out successfully. I owe most of my achievements as a researcher to Carlos and Luis. Carlos is a self-made, hard-working researcher. He has been at the forefront of those scholars who led Spanish academia to play in the international research league. He always demonstrates tremendous leadership and a real capacity to face any challenge, as he showed when he served as the President of the Spanish Association of Marketing and the editor of the Spanish-based, internationally focused, Journal of Marketing-ESIC. Very notably, in the last years, he has devoted himself wholeheartedly to the organization of the AIRSI Conferences on AI, robotics, virtual reality, etc., where Roland Rust, Ming-Hui Huang, Jochen Wirtz, Martin Wetzels, Linda Hollebeck, and many other distinguished scholars, have shared their insights into the newest services-focused technologies. Among his many virtues, Carlos’ judgement invariably leads him to select the most appropriate topic, method, journal and positioning for research projects. As a result, the involvement of Carlos Flavián has become a signpost marking the success of every article or initiative in which he plays a part; he is the most cited marketing scholar in Spain and an internationally reputed reference in research into new technologies and marketing. As for Luis, while we are of similar age, he has always been academically several steps ahead of me and, as a consequence, has been an invaluable help, and has consistently lit my path. He is a brilliant and tireless researcher who, in his kindness, trained me to give the best of myself as a scholar. Luis is the best friend one could wish for in one’s career, and I have enjoyed every moment of our time together. Beyond his academic life, he has remarkable social skills and a highly developed sense of humor; indeed, he has recently fused these academic and social aspects by developing a fascinating side-line explaining, using humor, science to non-specialized audiences. My sincere thanks go to both of my PhD supervisors; they always had my best interests in mind and gave me room and guidance to develop my own ideas.

Another pillar of my academic life is Professor Richard Bagozzi. He very kindly did me the honor of hosting, in 2009, my research stay at the University of Michigan. The PhD courses I attended there, for example, the course on persuasion presented by Professor Rajeev Barta, represented a qualitative leap forward in my knowledge of consumer behaviors and social psychology. It would be difficult to find a better role model than Professor Bagozzi. Marketing academics should be thankful for the wisdom and dedication that he has consistently put at the service of the science. His essay “Some Thoughts on Happiness, Well-being, and a Meaningful Life for Academics” is just one example of his generosity, the high standards he sets and follows, and the meaningful guidance he provides. Every time I meet him, I realize that, despite his continuing, astonishingly abundant and valuable contributions to the discipline, he is as good a person as he is a scholar.

In my recall of my academic role models, I must not overlook Jeroen Schepers, Ed Nijssen and Ad de Jong, who hosted my research stay at the Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands, in 2010. During my time there, I learned how to develop all the different stages of any research and to set, and achieve, ambitious publication goals. Their encouragement was fundamental in my participation in AMA conferences, and they introduced me to the SERVSIG Community. In particular, my collaboration with Jeroen resulted both in a fruitful set of important services-focused publications and in the establishment of a Dutch-Spanish team-based friendship that combines the best of both work styles and cultures. International collaborations, among which I would reference those with Richard Bagozzi, Russell Belk, Sandra Loureiro and Charles Hofacker, greatly improved my knowledge at different points in my academic career.

Finally, I must thank my colleagues of the METODO research team at the University of Zaragoza, and all my co-authors. Every time we discussed how to approach a research project, or an article review, we shared our knowledge in a never-ending learning process. I would like to nominate Giampaolo Viglia and Luis Casaló to identify their role models.

Daniel Belanche
Postdoctoral Researcher
University of Zaragoza, Spain