Distinguished Scholar ‘dreams’ of research

Some people wake in the morning and think of that first cup of coffee.

Not Eugene Kaciak.

“I wake up in the morning thinking about whether I will accomplish what I thought about in the night,” he says. “I dream about research solutions.”

It’s no surprise, then, that Kaciak, Professor of Operations and Management, has been named Distinguished Scholar of the Year at Brock University’s Goodman School of Business. It’s a title he shares with Kai-Yu Wang, Chair of Marketing, International Business and Strategy.

Kaciak not only thinks and dreams of research, he chooses it over nearly all else in his daily activities, too.

“I’m really fortunate that I’m really passionate about research,” he says. “If I had the choice between going to the movies and crunching numbers and working on a paper, I’d choose the latter happily. It gives me a lot of excitement.”

So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Kaciak often gets tapped to join prominent business research projects that require the honing of data. His analytical talents have helped lead to innovative insights about sustainability, women and entrepreneurship, and family business.

His interpretations of numbers and the unique research perspectives Kaciak brings have resulted in him analyzing data on women entrepreneurs in more than 20 countries together with his primary co-researcher, Dianne Welsh, a world-renowned authority in entrepreneurship from the University of Greensboro in North Carolina. Together, the two scholars have published 23 papers since 2010, including about the impact of culture on the support women entrepreneurs receive and their ability to balance work and family life.

“You will have different researchers coming at the same data from different angles and you’ll get somewhat different results,” Kaciak says. “I have colleagues who send me numbers and ask my interpretation.”

Kaciak is not only distinguished, he’s versatile, having taught in Poland, where he holds the title of Professor, conferred last year by the country’s president, and Algeria before coming to Canada. He’s lectured in Polish, French, Arabic and English, and has adeptly collaborated with more than 40 scholars on five continents, including his colleagues at Goodman and Brock University.

He’s so prolific and his work so relevant that he ranked No. 6 in the world in 2022 for number of publications on women entrepreneurship, helping Brock’s third-place ranking for contributing institutions on the same subject. Kaciak’s list of awards and achievements is also long like his bibliography.

The Journal of Business Research singled out Kaciak and Welsh as the most active and influential researchers when it comes to work on determinants of women entrepreneurs’ firm performance, women’s entrepreneurial success, and women entrepreneurs and work-life interface.

He does research for the pure joy that exploration of ideas brings. With 50 years of teaching at the university level on his resumé, Kaciak also does it to better prepare his students for successful business careers.

“When you’re a good researcher, you’re a better teacher,” he says. “You know more, so when students ask questions about something, you can give them deeper perspective they may not have been thinking about. I love when I get questions from students and sometimes I will stop lecturing and wait for them to ask.”

Kaciak hopes his work has impact elsewhere, including in public policy and among women entrepreneurs themselves.

But he doesn’t want to be remembered for his academic pursuits alone, even as he relishes his latest accolade from his home institution, a place Kaciak says has always encouraged and supported his research.

“This is like being the gold medal winner at the Olympics,” he says. “But I would like to be remembered not as being a researcher. All my life, I have tried to find a balance between life and research and health. I try to build a healthy balance between these and that’s how I want to be known.”

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