Dr. Rocki-Lee DeWitt is a Professor of Management in the Grossman School of Business.
Dr. DeWitt has most recently been studying how family businesses respond to intergenerational shifts in leadership style, innovation, and ownership disruption. Dr. DeWitt generally uses a mixed-methods approach in her research, with particular emphasis on interviews with one or more individuals. She prefers a semi-structured interview, as it allows for greater flexibility in the discussion. Additionally, Dr. DeWitt makes an effort to avoid framing questions around certain language, so that participants are free to express their thoughts in their own verbiage. She uses these interviews as powerful tools to identify, code, and analyze overarching patterns in family business relationships, as well as individual differences or styles, especially in regards to intergenerational decision-making and leadership. Although these interviews have been rewarding for all involved, many have involved sensitive or private topics and, therefore, would not have been used for research purposes. This is not something Dr. DeWitt considers a “problem,” per se, but rather an outcome based on choosing to use the interview process as a way to help an individual(s) process or heal from stressful events:
“When I was at Penn State, back in the Nineties, they went through budget reductions. It affected all 17 commonwealth campuses. And I was given an opportunity to interview each of the campus CEOs on the seventeen campuses […] did I ever publish a paper out of that? No. But, I helped the system heal because it was cathartic.”
Dr. DeWitt also emphasizes the availability and quality of the librarians at the University of Vermont as key partners in her research (as well as other librarians she has worked with throughout her academic career). She also uses case studies and other statistics as major research methods to assess quantitative data in her mixed-methods research.
Visit her website here.
Dr. DeWitt can be contacted at: Rocki.DeWitt@uvm.edu