When the research matters

Came across article by James Pasternak, a journalist before he became a Toronto city councillor, “Wal-Mart wave: he told you so”, Financial Post, August 28, 2001, p. C2, concerning the research of economics professor Kenneth Stone. In 1988, Stone researched the impact on the retail competition of the opening of a Wal-Mart. His paper, “The Effect of Wal-Mart Stores on Businesses in Host Towns and Surrounding Towns in Iowa“, completed in 1988, but never published in an academic journal, it appears. nonetheless resonated with many, resulting in a 10 year focus that was not primarily as a taxpayer-paid professor. His conclusion was that approximately 75% of Wal-Mart’s sales were sales that were taken away from an existing retailer in the area.

The paper

…launched Mr. Stone on a 10-year odyssey that included 600 speeches in five countries. …By the early 1990s, As Wal-Mart carved up the retail frontier in middle America, Mr. Stone was getting 10 to 15 calls a day from media outlets, corporations and business associations, for comments and advice. By the mid-1990s, the daily volume of calls increased to between 25 and 30, and Mr. Stone was delivering about 100 seminars a year at a top fee of US$7,000, plus expenses. …Since 1998, Mr. Stone’s phone has become quieter. Last year, he delivered only 20 to 25 seminars at about US$1,000 each. …“Frankly [although] I wasn’t consciously doing it, I suspect I was short changing my job a little bit And now I have assignments that are much more demanding here at the university. So it probably [is] just as well [things] have slowed down,” says Mr. Stone.

The academic who cashes in, and turns his full-time academic job into an excellent source of full-time income for part-time work. Where that full-time academic job normally requires at least 40% dedication to taxpayer-funded research. And where universities, for reasons unknown, do not insist that they have a right to share in the lucrative “sideline” consulting income that is referenced to a university position and, in many cases, the use of university resources. How many universities insist that they have a right to share in textbook copyrights, and related profits?

Well, he is now professor emeritus, retired as of 2007, honoured for research relating to a paper that was never published. He has a new co-author, Dr. Georgeanne Artz, with whom there are a few refereed co-authored academic publications, and they are finding that “Walmart has been an overall retail boon for small Iowa towns with Walmart stores and the drain on surrounding towns has stabilized”.


Well, he may have been described in the newspaper article as “Mr.”, but he also has a doctorate, University of Illinois, 1976.

Though his university association was more that of a “Mr.”, where the university becomes the base of highly lucrative activities elsewhere.


About brucelarochelle

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2 Responses to When the research matters

  1. On March 19, 2017, Neil Remington Abramson commented as follows:

    Makes you think, doesn’t it? You could retire, if we made $700,000 together doing seminars based on an article we didn’t jointly publish together.

    We’ve got a leg up on achieving this. We’ve already not written the article! Now we just need to publicize it and design the seminar.

  2. On March 21, 2017, Neil Remington Abramson commented further, as follows:

    It would be so easy if you had a lucky hot button issue (like “get-rich-quick” is popular) and were willing to confirm people’s worst fears (and/or offer miraculous skills always postponed in detail to the next and more expensive level of training – like flipping real estate). Fear mongering! Invincibility building.

    Personally I’m not really interested, though it’d be very entrepreneurial. I made my living for years selling training in things like “dealing with the public” – useful stuff for managers and front line employees.

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