Products. Revenue. Economy. When most people think of business, the first thing that comes to mind is probably not connectivity. However, Paul Carlile, professor of management and information systems and the senior associate dean for innovation at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, views industries through a lens of anthropology as his research examines the behavioral differences driving and dividing the world of business.
Carlile was recently named to the Thinkers50 Radar Class of 2022, a London-based rank system for management ideas which highlights researchers from around the world whose innovative ideas could positively change the way business is conducted.
His research focuses on “knowledge boundaries” that hinder decision making, addressing its importance in the realm of multiple industries.
“The reason why that work has been so influential is [because] it’s gone into engineering It’s gone into political science,” Carlile said. “It’s gone into sociology, it’s gone into business, because these problems are everywhere.”
N. Venkat Venkatraman, a David J. McGrath Jr. professor in management and information systems, was one of the people who first brought Carlile into BU’s orbit.
“Paul Carlile … is a scholar who understands the breadth, complexities and intricacies of innovation in ways so refreshingly different from other innovation researchers,” Venkatraman said. “I am proud to have been the Chair of the IS Department that hired him at Questrom.”
While Carlile said he was grateful to be included in Thinkers50’s honorable list, he was also surprised that his “deeply philosophical” work gained such international acclaim for his anthropological approach to business.
Carlile said he spent a lot of time understanding the construction of cross-functional knowledge in an organization.
“That’s the beauty of business, right? Not one person can do it all,” Carlile said.
Carlile was also responsible for creating the hands-on Master of Science in Management Studies degree at Questrom. Instead of learning in the classroom, students solve real-world problems alongside industry professionals.
“He brings [a] creative lens to Questrom as we developed the Online MBA program to integrate across functional disciplines and develop a learner-centered curriculum,” Venkatraman said.
Yusra Alshawwa, who graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2017, went on to complete the nine-month MSMS program pioneered by Carlile. The unique approach of the program helped Alshawwa get concrete experience in the business world.
“Everything we learned about business was directly through actual application,” Alshawwa said. “So working directly with a range of different companies across Boston and working on actual real life issues, and that for me was absolutely incredible.”
Alshawwa said working alongside Carlile as a research assistant allowed her to be “creative” on her own.
Despite Carlile’s achievements in his research on the world of business, Carlile believes that perseverance and humility is key to innovation.
“One thing I highly preach when you’re moving into a novel space is you have to get comfortable with failure,” Carlile said. “I’d rather experiment than be right, and that’s an adage I live by.”