DBA Students Soar in Airline Research Pilot Program

In a unique pilot program, DBA candidates at Wilmington University’s College of Business provided research for American Airlines as part of its critical Evaluation Research Program.

A woman hands her boarding pass to an airline employee. Three doctoral students—Robert Clarke, Adam Schvom and Bryan Yackulic — conducted research over the course of two years at American’s hub at the Philadelphia International Airport. During the process, they gained insights from the airline’s leadership team while creating a body of knowledge regarding the industry.

“It was the first time we had partnered with a major industry to do research,” says Dr. Kathy Kennedy-Ratajack, dean of the College of Business. “These students have done phenomenal work and showed a great willingness to try something new.”

Clarke’s research topic was the Examination of Differences in Job Stress and Leadership Trust Based on Tenure at a Major Airline. Schvom focused on Critical Evaluation of Factors That Affect Customer Satisfaction in the Domestic Airline Industry in the United States. Yackulic concentrated on Analyzing the Relationship Between Diversity Climate and Psychological Safety for Customer Service Representatives in the Airline Industry. Their dissertations are available on ProQuest.com.

Based on the success of the initiative, expect other partnerships between WilmU, corporations and nonprofit organizations, Dr. Kennedy-Ratajack says. Currently, a doctoral student is partnering with the Salvation Army to do a study on human trafficking.