“Traveling is an addiction” for Orie Berezan, assistant professor of management and marketing at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). In fact, his extensive use of frequent traveler perks led him to make customer loyalty and satisfaction programs his first focus of research as a Ph.D. student.
In his work, Berezan explores the background and success of industry loyalty programs and seeks answers to why people invest their time in amassing the benefits, and what motivates customers to keep coming back. His work has evolved to explore the drivers of social media behavior and the relationships between social media use and customer satisfaction and loyalty, perceived virtual happiness, and most recently loneliness and social media.
Berezan has been honored with the CSUDH’s 2019 Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Award. The award acknowledges that research, scholarship, and creative activity are essential components of the university’s mission, and recognizes that these professional activities provide intellectual stimulation and motivation for student learning.
“I was shocked, in a good way, when I received the faculty award. When I do my research, I work with people who inspire me, and on projects that I’m really passionate about, because I want to be fully engaged in the work,” said Berezan, who holds a Ph.D. in hospitality administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). “I got quite emotional about the recognition because—as everyone in research will tell you—you put your heart and soul into it.”
When Berezan arrived at CSUDH in 2014, he brought along two decades of international management experience in such foreign markets as Japan, Canada, and Mexico, and came equipped with numerous academic papers, studies, and monographs he produced to share with students as study materials.
He has also penned articles about his research for top marketing, tourism, and hospitality journals, including the Journal of Business Research and Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, and is helping his students get published as well.
“Research, for me, has become more and more a way of making a difference. My research has evolved with an intention to bring a little more awareness of humanity into the world of marketing. It has also evolved to include students in my world of research wherever possible, providing a rewarding pathway to connecting with them on a whole different level.”
Last year, Berezan and his former marketing professor Anjala Krishen (UNLV) co-edited the book, “Marketing and Humanity: Discourses in the Real World.” The book expands the field of consumer behavior in marketing in order to understand the “real world,” of underserved and underexplored populations, modern-day social issues, and power and agency.
This project enabled Berezan to further work with people from all over the world, conducting interdisciplinary research with engineers, marketers, hospitality researchers, and students from institutions including: the University of Michigan, UNLV, Loyola Marymount, Cornell, San Diego State, UC Berkeley, McGill, and the Università della Svizzera Italiana.
“The book encourages readers to question their notions of reality and take a deep dive to explore topics that are critical to consumers and society from a holistic, inter-sectional, and inter-disciplinary perspective,” said Berezan.
Rather than taking a traditional textbook approach, Berezan’s helps the reader explore real-world topics through investigation and critical reflection rather than merely the digestion of information. Socially critical topics such as social media and loneliness, skin whitening and social capital, and sex, gender and advertising are presented from the viewpoint that one size does not fit all.
In the classroom, Berezan has turned his fascination and research in customer satisfaction and loyalty into course-relevant topics for his students to delve into. From designing the study to collecting and analyzing the data, his students learn to apply theory to the real world and gain a practical understanding of the research process and how critical the research is for companies and customers.
He has also integrated his research into his curriculum and is helping develop the next generation of marketing scholars. “At first, I was little reluctant to introduce my research method to my undergraduate students,” said Berezan, who discovered that how he frames his research for students makes a significant difference.
“Now, nearly every class that I teach has a research element that is above and beyond just library research, and I do my best to propose research questions that are interesting to them,” he added. “Working together step-by-step through the research process, going through the struggles of the IRB (institutional review board) process and data collection, and experiencing the moments of ‘aha’ and sense of discovery are all a part of their success and of mine as well.”
A number of Berezan’s have presented their research during Student Research Day, and one took first place in her category. “I am now working with her to collect additional data and revise the manuscript for submission to a peer-reviewed marketing journal. My students’ success makes this work very fulfilling.”