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Auburn stood apart for doctoral candidate Jack Carson. How? Freedom.
“In lots of other doctoral programs, students come in with an advisor in mind, they apply to the advisor, or have a specific area of interest,” said Carson, a fourth-year doctoral student from Yuma, Arizona. “Here, that’s encouraged but not required. We’re encouraged to explore a wide range of research, find something we like that aligns with a faculty member and start doing it. That kind of freedom drives self-motivation.
“At Auburn, the freedom to wait and align ourselves with research interest is huge,” Carson said. “The quality of seminars that we PhD students attend is excellent. Also, we have a great mix of established faculty and young faculty who are doing some cool, new things. Being able to draw knowledge from senior and younger scholars encourages us to be up to date with the new stuff, but also know where all of the research is coming from.”
The self-motivated Carson had his research, "External relational attributions: Attributing cause to others' relationships," published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior and is eager to continue conducting impactful research. Other studies include work on perceived organizational obstructions and a meta-analysis of interpersonal and organizational workplace deviance research.
For his dedication to research and furthering his graduate education, Carson was recently honored as Harbert College’s 2019 Outstanding PhD Student Award.
“He has excelled in coursework, taught undergraduate students effectively, provided service to his department, and built a strong pipeline of research,” said Jeremy Mackey, Assistant Professor in Management at the Harbert College of Business, who serves as one of Carson’s Auburn mentors. “Jack’s strong work ethic and professional demeanor make him a clear leader amongst the PhD students in our department.”
Mackey has a strong record in researching abusive supervision and it didn’t take Carson long to align himself with the professor’s work. “When I got here, I knocked on Dr. Mackey’s door very quickly,” Carson recalled. “I said, ‘I’m very interested in researching abusive supervision.’ Dr. Mackey said, ‘here’s 20 research articles. Go read them.’”
Carson did … and they have worked together ever since.
“I want to understand the nature of the human experience in the workplace,” Carson said. “Being around neat ideas … being able to take part in that energy – it’s very inspiring.
“Being new, we doctoral students don’t have as many walls or rules about the way things work in research. We’re not hip to the norms. But it’s easier for us to think outside the box because we don’t know anything about the box, yet. That’s one of the benefits to working with established faculty. We ask, ‘What about this?’ or ‘What about that?’ They let us feel out where the box is, and help us to shape meaningful research ideas. I am very grateful for our Management Department faculty, and what they do for PhD students. Teamwork makes dream work.”