Faculty, students win research awards

Sonoma State University made a lasting impression at the North American Case Research Association Conference in Victoria, British Columbia as the only university to win multiple awards.

Two business professors, Armand Gilinsky and Sandra Newton, won the Gold Award for the Best Conference Case. Gilinsky’s summer students, Kimberley Finnie and Shaun Richardson, won the Jonathan Welch Award for Best Case in Finance and Economics. These Sonoma State MBA graduates were the first students to ever take home this award.

“They were up against other professors and here we have students teaching professors how to do it better,” said Gilinsky.

The North American Case Research Association (NACRA), is a nonprofit organization with roughly 500 research writers who all support and encourage quality performance in case studies, writing and teachings in business disciplines. 

“Wining this award was affirmation of the fact that we have a world class business institute for students as well as faculty resources,” said Gilinsky. “It also shows we have an outstanding base research.” 

According to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the School of Business and Economics at Sonoma State University is “one of the 15 percent of all business schools in the world to meet standards of excellence.” 

Richardson said that over the summer the requirement was to complete an approximate 130 hours of research over a period of nine weeks. However, Richardson said that much more time was put into the project in order to achieve the desired results. 

In Gilinksy’s years of teaching he has written several cases, and he said that his experiences have taught him to think innovatively.

“There’s more to an acquisition or purchase. Really what it comes down to is negotiation,” said Gilinsky.

While Newton called Gilinsky a “master,” Richardson felt little apprehension towards competing against other professors. 

“I did not at all feel like an underdog. I think it was assumed that it was written by practicing professors. But by going into it with the focus of a student, we made it an interesting story that would draw students in,” said Richardson. 

Gilinsky and Newton took home the award for Best Conference Case for their business model, “Naked Wines.com: The ‘Sudoku Approach.’”

“I felt very proud because we really worked together and I was happy with our end result but I had really no idea it had won,” said Newton. 

The case aimed to alter the production of wine, to change old marketing ideas and expand the way wine is purchased.

“It was a truly democratic model for wine,” said Gilinsky.

“We tried to combine IT strategy and business strategy so that our case could be taught in two different types of classes,” said Newton. 

The integration of technology made the case stand out because of its diverse elements. Not only were the ideas innovative but they were also modernized to fit today’s technological culture. Both professors realized there were not enough cases written with the inclusion of technology, so Gilinsky quickly jumped on the idea. 

Gilinsky seems to remain humble and even through his awards he credits his team as a whole.  

“It was a true set of collaborate efforts,” said Gilinsky. “To come out with such praise is a real bonus and it helps our university to help show that you can take a small school, a little initiative and you can make a great impact.”