Dr. Dwayne Ball, associate professor of marketing, retired from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business in May, ending a tenure of 30 years at the college. He believes the changes he experienced in both the marketing field and teaching demonstrate the enormous transformations taking place throughout the world. Changing global dynamics also led Ball to his greatest fulfillment as a marketing researcher.
“I’ve enjoyed the march of technology in many respects,” said Ball. “When I came here in 1987, students wrote papers long hand. Now all their work is completed and graded entirely online. It’s freed up students and faculty to concentrate on learning and growing in our field.”
Ball attributes advancements in modern computing to changing the way marketing practitioners work. He helped lead the way by embracing data analytics, including serving as the primary business professor in the Survey Research and Methodology Program (SRAM).
“Marketing wasn’t changing a lot from 1960 to 1990 when many of my colleagues were educated. In the past 25 years it changed dramatically primarily because of the internet. We constantly need to keep up with what’s happening in industries all over the world, and with new capabilities provided by the speed and volume of computing. Whole new skill sets are required in information technology and data analytics. It’s become a different field in teaching and practice,” he said.
His own gratification as a researcher peaked during the past ten years while becoming a leader in the study of global human trafficking. Ball helped shine light on a field that many people would not have considered ripe for marketing analysis.
“We showed human trafficking to be a marketing system by explaining it in marketing terms. After all, it’s humans being bought and sold. We produced numbers that the Ukrainian government was forced to face when we showed 15 times as many women were being trafficked abroad than they reported. They thought no men were being trafficked and it turned out the number of men trafficked was double the number of women. It changed the understanding of human trafficking in many Eastern European countries and their actions toward it. The method we developed is now the standard for estimating the amount of human trafficking in various parts of the world,” he said.
This year marks the Ninth Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking at Nebraska. Ball, along with Dr. Ron Hampton, associate professor of marketing emeritus and Syryani Tidball, assistant professor of practice at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, combined to initiate the conference which brings in speakers and professionals from throughout the world to combat the problem of human trafficking.
“The conference has been a significant mover in spreading research around the country. I’m very pleased with my research in the area and the ability to stimulate discussion and action through the conference,” said Ball.
Dr. Ravi Sohi, interim chair of the Department of Marketing, professor and Robert D. Hayes Distinguished Chair of Sales Excellence, worked with Ball for over 25 years. Sohi believes Ball’s presence raised the level of students graduating from Nebraska.
"Not only has Dr. Ball played a key role in educating our doctoral students on issues related to measurement of psychological phenomena, he also took the lead in developing courses on database marketing and marketing analytics at a time when the industry had just started thinking about these issues,” said Sohi. “He then applied his skills to help with an area he was very passionate about – reducing human trafficking. We wish him the best in retirement."
The past five years, Ball served as chair of the Department of Marketing. His service as chair corresponded with heightened activity at the college working with alumni. Through advisory boards, and consultation he helped advance curriculum goals to better match the needs of contemporary businesses.
“I’ve facilitated our faculty when they’ve needed to make changes in the way they teach, and helped keep them in touch with their disciplines through conferences,” said Ball. “Our feedback from our advisory board helps us adjusted to the current marketing environment and respond to changes in areas such as social media.”
Ball plans to continue his research in human trafficking in retirement. He also plans to teach marketing courses when not spending time vacationing in warmer climates during the winter months.