Bringing Daily Experience to the Classroom
Eller Ph.D. in Marketing ’12
By Lia Sansom
Eller MBA ’13
Jurui Zhang came to Tucson from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, where she studied marketing. “Being accepted into the marketing doctoral program at the University of Arizona turned out to be a turning point in my life,” she said.
Zhang completed her degree in May and will begin teaching at the University of Massachusetts in the fall. Her research is focused on social media and its impact on consumers’ decisions. She began exploring the topic as she noticed an increase in shopping websites providing social network icons to directly recommend products and services from their websites to social networks.
Zhang co-authored a recent paper in the Journal of Marketing, along with marketing professors Yong Liu and Yubo Chen, titled, “When Do Third-party Product Reviews Affect Firm Value and What Can Firms Do? The Case of Media Critics and Professional Movie Reviews.”
Her doctoral dissertation, “Social Learning in a World of Friends versus Connected Strangers: A Theoretical Model with Experimental Evidence,” comparatively models consumer product choices that are made based on friend-networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and stranger networks (Amazon and eBay recommendations).
Zhang found that small networks of friends influence purchase decisions more than stranger networks, but stranger networks trumped large networks of friends. The findings of this work provide insight both to firms and consumers, especially as firms continue to combine the two types of networks in their promotional efforts.
Now, she can see and apply her research findings in her daily use of social networking. It is this type of interactive feedback in her own learning that she uses to drive the enthusiasm of her students: she said her number-one takeaway from Eller is to bring daily experience into the classroom.
Beyond what she has learned from her research and teaching, Zhang has a wealth of experiences from her time with the Eller College that have prepared her for an exceptional career. She learned from the Eller faculty how to be a vigorous and productive scholar, while developing a strong peer network through professional events including the Haring Symposium at Indiana University, the Marketing Doctoral Symposium at University of Houston, and the AMA Sheth Doctoral Consortium.
While she will miss hiking in the mountains and canyons of Southern Arizona, Zhang said she is looking forward to the rich history and vibrant academic life of Boston.
Learn more about the range of Eller College Doctoral Programs.