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Kelting, Ph.D. Program Alum Publish Collaborative Research Project

Associate professor Katie Kelting and four alumni of the Chaifetz School’s Ph.D. in International Business and Marketing program—Clark Johnson (May ‘20), Brittney Bauer (‘19), Nicolas Jankuhn (‘21) and Woojong Sim (‘21)—have collaborated on new research about the impact that mailing address has on consumer perceptions and evaluations of a business. The article was first published in the May 2021 issue of the Journal of Business Research. 

Dr. Katie Kelting, associate professor of marketing, poses for a photo in the atrium of Cook Hall at Siant Louis University's Chaifetz School of Business.
Katie Kelting, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing at the Chaifetz School of Business

The research compares the different mailing address options that are now available to businesses and uses signaling theory to explain the findings. Kelting describes how multiple signals exist in the marketplace and how they can influence consumers’ judgments and evaluations. 

“Signals communicate information to us, but not all signals are the same. That’s what makes this research interesting,” said Kelting. “Finding that consumers judge and evaluate a business more favorably when its mailing address simply includes a street name versus a P.O. Box is notable.”

Read more about “Location, location … mailing location? The impact of address as a signal”

Building a Research Team

Johnson originally approached Bauer about the research idea while working on their doctoral degrees at the Chaifetz School after seeing a marketing promotion about a new, professional mail service from UPS and Regus. Bauer said the ads claimed to “give your small business an edge with a real street address.” Basically, the idea was that you could be given a P.O. Box, but instead of the address being listed as “P.O. Box XXXX,” it would be listed as a street address with a suite number. 

“We are both fascinated by research projects that examine new phenomena in the marketplace, so this topic had immediate interest and appeal,” Bauer said.

Bauer and Johnson, who were in the same PhD cohort at SLU, approached Kelting about the project because it aligned with her own research. They also brought Sim and Jankuhn into the project as an opportunity to help the newer PhD students gain research experience.

“Our hope was that this project could be a mentoring and learning experience for everyone, in addition to being a prime research opportunity,” Bauer said. “By having collaborators at three different stages of their careers, we were able to develop and grow as researchers through this process.”

They developed their research to include five experiments and found evidence that consumers favored a small business with a street and suite address more than a traditional P.O. Box or generic street address.

Research Facilities Help Produce Meaningful Scholarship

The researchers credited the Chaifetz School of Business’ Behavioral Lab as essential in completing the project. The facility provided the space to conduct a range of experiments, testing participants’ perceptions of different addresses and informing the practical findings of the research.

A student in the behavioral lab at Saint Louis University's Chaifetz School of Business completes a consumer percpetion survey as part of faulty research project.
The Chaifetz School's Behavioral Lab provides faculty and doctoral candidates space and resources necessary to produce impactful research.

“Talk about signaling,” Kelting said. “A behavioral research lab in the building is a great signal to outsiders and those in academia that we have a high quality business school and this is a resource that not everybody has.”

Bauer even said that the Chaifetz School’s Behavioral Lab inspired her to work with the dean of the College of Business at Loyola University New Orleans, where Bauer is now an assistant professor, to build a COB Behavioral Lab there, as well.

“The lab was a fantastic resource and a significant asset for our project,” Bauer said.

Business Billikens for Others

When Kelting reflected on the collaborative work done with these PhD students, it reminded her of what it means to be a Billiken.

“I think it just fits with the mission of SLU,” Kelting said. “These two students were thinking about others and seeing a bigger picture. It wasn’t just about them having successes, this project and its success was good for all of us.”

Learn more about SLU’s Ph.D. in International Business & Marketing