Research Feature with Dr. Brent McKenzie | Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics

Research Feature with Dr. Brent McKenzie

Posted on Thursday, June 6th, 2024

Dr. Brent McKenzie

Dr. Brent McKenzie is a professor in the Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies. He holds a BA in History from McMaster University, an MBA in Finance and International Business from Dalhousie University, and a PhD in Marketing from Griffith University. He focuses his research on the Marketing (Retail Sector) and Management (Dark Tourism; Transition Economies) theory and practice in the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.               

What is the overarching focus of your research program?

My research program currently has three perspectives. The longest period of my research has been geographically focused – specifically Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. I have continued to study the temporal versus lasting legacies of the Communist system on marketing, retailing, and tourism related activities. My secondary field of study focuses on the evolving nature of Dark Tourism (tourism to sites and attractions related to death, suffering and the seemingly macabre). My research examines the buyer seller relationships, studying the theory and practice of successful dark tourism sites, and the related field of souvenirs, and dark tourism retailing. My third field of study relates to the teaching of introductory marketing in both domestic and international markets.

Briefly describe a research problem or issue you are currently investigating?

As I presently starting a Research Study leave, my main research project is to complete a book entitled, “Dark Tourism: Is the Medium Still the Message?” - The book explores the number of ways in which people can consume Dark tourism, as well as the evolving nature of how people learn about dark tourism. Through various forms of communication such as television, movies, plays, books, gaming, and social media, as well as visits to actual dark tourism sites and attractions, one can indirectly experience death and suffering. To better understand the similarities and differences that different types of media have on these experiences, this book integrates the famous aphorism of Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan, “The Medium is the Message”. What questions or challenges are you hoping to address? The book focuses on how to understand how the form of media impacts upon the success of dark tourism sites, and the experiences of those that visit them. My second research project is the collection of the 6th round of survey data that relates to my model of Retail Service Quality in Estonia. I have been collecting Estonian consumer shopping data every 5 years since 1999. What questions or challenges are you hoping to address? The data is analyzed from the two perspectives noted above – what aspects of Estonia’s forced incorporation into the Soviet Union continue to shape how Retail Service Quality is defined and measured, and which aspects continue to conflate with the traditional Western measures of Retail Service Quality. The third research project, focuses on the teaching and role of introductory Marketing in a business education program. I have been working on collecting student data and examining the potential impacts of the delivery of such a large introductory course through various formats (face-to-face, live hybrid, distance education). What questions or challenges are you hoping to address? Challenges involve the separation and identification of the various variables such as (1) student degree program (2) student area of concentration (3) student year in program (3) format of course delivery (4) impact of Bloom’s taxonomy and course evaluation components.

Who is the target audience?

For all my research projects there tends to be both an academic and industry perspective.

What is the wider social benefit of your research?

An overarching focus of my research agenda is to conduct research (ideally field research) that examines issues that are either centred in geographic locations that are often overlooked or receive lesser attention and continue to experience continuous change – both economic, and social. The dissemination of my research, and my outreach to various stakeholders are often in developing markets and academic establishments that do not have the benefit of the degree of research resources provided to faculty at the University of Guelph.

What are the potential benefits and/or outcomes of this research?

As noted, my research has aims that are benefit to both theory and practice. The theoretical contributions add to the ever-growing research strengths of the Lang School in general, and the Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies specifically. Due to the geographic focus of much of my research, I continue to develop the internationalization branding of UofG/Lang/MCS, as well as developing relationships with Canadian governmental groups in those regions. With respect to teaching, my retail service quality research led to the development of a course in Retail Management (MCS4060) and my dark tourism research the creation of a FYS, course entitle “Dark Tourism”. Although the FYS program has been suspended, I created an upper year field course in the topic (delivered in Winter 2020) and the hope is to offer another section of this course in Winter 2025. My volunteering to take over the majority of the teaching of MCS1000 in Fall 2022 was driven by the need to have a greater understanding of the impact that this course has had on MCS and Lang students as well as the growth in other UofG students taking the course – there was a voiced need to address the rigour of the course, but without solid data and analysis of such data, the anecdotal concerns could not be addressed. The intent is that an actionable report will produced from this analysis that will include specific recommendations for the course itself moving ahead, but the report should also provide benefit for other large introductory courses. My association with other Universities who also offer introductory marketing courses further aids in this research, while also providing Lang branding opportunities to international markets.

What comes next?

(1) The hope is to have a finalized draft copy of the book completed by the end of June 2024. I am presenting research related to the book at the AIB (Academy of International Business) Latin America and the Caribbean Conference in March (Marketing Day of the Dead in Los Angeles: Cultural Identity or Cultural Appropriation?). I am conducting a guest seminar at the Stirling Management School, Stirling University, UK (Celebration, Cultural Appropriation, or Something Else? – Día de Muertos Barbie (and Ken)) in April and the Devil 2024 Conference at King’s College in Halifax in May, (Marketing the Devil: Culture or Commerce – the “Devil’s Museum” in Lithuania) (2) The expectation is that I will have collected the 2024 survey data by April 2024 – I will be presenting these findings at the AABS (Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies) Conference in June (Estonian Department Store Sector, 1999-2024: A Quarter Century of Opportunities, Success, and Unexpected Threats) (3) I will be beginning the analysis of the F2023 Introductory marketing data. I will be meeting with representatives of McGraw-Hill Higher Education division to discuss my research agenda with respect to this Introductory marketing research in January. In conjunction with my role as an External Examiner of the College of Business and Economics with the University of Technology, Jamaica, I will be conducting seminars/workshop on the role and importance of Blooms taxonomy in business education in March.

News Archive