The University of South Carolina’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management is producing top-tier research at a level that ranks it among the nation’s best.
South Carolina is designated by the Carnegie Foundation as an institution of very high research activity, its highest rating. The College of HRSM is continually working to advance its fields and make meaningful contributions to the university's collective research impact.
HRSM Associate Dean Sam Todd developed a system which tracks research visibility and impact across the college’s academic units and compares it to other academic peers.
“It can sometimes be hard to find an accurate index that compares research output in our HRSM disciplines, so I developed one. Essentially, my system tracks the cumulative high impact research outputs of various faculties, by discipline, and allows comparisons between universities. The results from 5 years of data show we have been steadily pacing towards a firm position as one of the top three U.S. universities in tourism, hospitality, sport and entertainment management research. It also shows that we are in the top 10 for retailing research,” Todd says.
HRSM faculty members consistently produce research featured in the world’s most prestigious academic outlets, establishing them as thought leaders in their fields and laying the foundation for current and future curricula.
“Inside academia, these peer reviewed articles are essentially the leading edge of knowledge discovery and dissemination, and from there, it typically filters down into industry adoption and textbook creation,” Todd says. “For instance, take the following question: ‘How do reviews of restaurants, destinations, hotels, and scenic trips impact future intentions?’ We have faculty in HRSM working on that now."
The college’s research consistently impacts the world beyond academia. In addition to being published in top-tier journals, research from the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management is also shared with industry networks so that the latest findings can be applied to real world business scenarios and help advance our fields.
The knowledge gained from this research is also integrated into textbooks and higher education curriculum around the world.
While some of the research involves historical industry challenges (like guest satisfaction), faculty have also responded quickly to emergent industry issues. For example, hospitality and tourism faculty worked hand in hand with industry leaders throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, developing safety guidelines and strategies to shepherd South Carolina’s largest industry through the crisis.
As the No. 1 school in the U.S. for sport science research, the college’s sport and entertainment management research examines many aspects of sport business, including fan identities, attachments, and experiences.
“How should professional sport organizations or concert venues price their tickets in order to maximize their profit and the in-stadium experience at the same time? We have faculty working on that now,” Todd says. “As consumers, we are always curious about how the prices for seats change seemingly overnight, and how we get the cheapest seat. But behind the scenes the organization has a well-informed strategy that is driven by multiple goals, and multiple input variables into the model. Front office leaders certainly want to maximize profits, but they also want to maximize the crowd because that yields the type of transcendental experiences that fans remember, cherish, and tweet. It’s a tricky balance sometimes. Our faculty are not only leading the discovery of knowledge in these critical areas, but also impacting the industries in meaningful ways.”
Todd also added, “Our research efforts also are cross-disciplinary inside the college, which is certainly an advantage we have in addressing particular issues.” For instance, Department of Retailing Chair Jeffrey Campbell and School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management Director Robin DiPietro are working together along with colleagues from Kansas State University on a USDA funded grant project to advance environmental sustainability education in hospitality and retail management degree programs.
Retailing faculty are also engaging in industry-leading research on virtual reality shopping experiences, the importance of imagery on consumer decision making, services recovery, social media communications and corporate social responsibility efforts among other key areas.
When asked where the top of the HRSM trajectory is, Todd says “We have just hired the largest class of incoming faculty the college has ever seen, and many will walk in the door this fall ready to make substantive research discoveries, so we feel the peak is a long way off.” Todd notes that HRSM’s momentum bodes well for a campus welcoming a new president and new provost, and a college launching a search for a permanent dean.
Click to read more about ongoing research in the College of HRSM.