Viswanath Venkatesh is a force multiplier for positive impact at Pamplin College of Business and Virginia Tech.

Since joining the university in 2021, Venkatesh — Eminent Scholar and Verizon Chair of Business Information Technology — has catalyzed Pamplin’s capacity to publish in elite journals, conduct research that improves the human condition on a global scale, and build collaborative relationships with researchers at universities around the world. He is also the Director of Pamplin’s Executive Ph.D. program.

Venkatesh’s work has been impactful on research and society. In terms of research impact, citations are widely regarded as a key metric. In a recent VTx article, Venkatesh, who is the most-cited scholar at Virginia Tech, was recognized by Clarivate Analytics as one of six researchers at Virginia Tech included among the most highly cited researchers in the world — around 7,000 researchers out of approximately 7 million researchers in all scientific fields.

In another comprehensive citation impact study led by researchers from Stanford University and Elsevier using a composite metric of six different citation measures, Venkatesh ranked 95 out of approximately 9 million scientists across all fields for citations in 2021. He had a career ranking of 485 out of approximately 9 million scientists across all fields from 1996-2021. Both rankings are especially notable in that they compare scientists across various fields using an approach that standardizes citation data across fields. Specifically, Venkatesh has over 153,000 citations per Google Scholar and over 50,000 citations per Clarivate’s Web of Science.

In terms of societal impact, for nearly two decades, he has been engaged in research focused on improving the quality of life of the poorest of the poor in rural India. The interventions that he designed as part of his work and studied over a 7+ year period have been shown to significantly enhance quality of life and empower thousands of women in rural India.

This standout research continues to improve the health and financial well-being of rural communities in India. In boosting Internet access and information dissemination on healthcare, farming best practices, and entrepreneurial opportunities, the positive outcomes at scale are maintained, including reduced maternal and infant mortality rates and strong engagement of women in rural economies through entrepreneurial activities.

“The opportunity to conduct research with a beneficial effect on society, especially in underprivileged communities, has always been a strong motivator for me. I feel fortunate and privileged to have this opportunity,” Venkatesh said. “I have presented the research I have led in rural India at a number of universities across the globe and at the United Nations.”

In building research capacity around the world, Venkatesh has always valued mentoring Ph.D. students and junior faculty members. “I really enjoy the mentorship aspect of my work and helping early-career scholars navigate the research ecosystem. It is always exciting when I can support them in their journey,” he noted.

Building connections with budding researchers is at the center of Venkatesh’s efforts as director of Pamplin’s Executive Ph.D. program which serves executives seeking advanced knowledge and skills needed to conduct high-quality research on critical issues facing the business community and in turn, influence business practice and government policy.

Since joining Virginia Tech, Venkatesh has published the second edition of his book Road to Success: A Guide for Doctoral Students and Junior Faculty Members in the Behavioral and Social Sciences, available for open access through Virginia Tech Publishing. Since its publication about a year ago, the latest edition has been downloaded nearly 7,000 times. Building on the book content which covers a range of research topics, Venkatesh has delivered numerous research training workshops and courses in multiple countries. He is nearing publication of another open-access book on mixed-methods research, which is expected to be available through Virginia Tech Publishing in early 2023.

Collaborating with scholars across the globe is another motivating factor for Venkatesh. “It has helped me study phenomena I would have otherwise perhaps not known to exist and work with scholars with very different perspectives. It has improved my research, but more importantly, it has also helped me grow as a scholar,” he said. In addition to working with several scholars across the globe on various projects including international grants, he has presented his research at universities around the world.

At Virginia Tech, Venkatesh has engaged in international activities in a variety of ways, with the most expansive being the key role he has played in strengthening and growing the diverse set of partnerships between Virginia Tech and the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) in India. He continues to play an important part in fostering research and teaching partnerships with NMIMS and other global institutions.

“Dr. Venkatesh is not only an incredibly productive researcher, but also a change agent through his highly impactful research and the partnerships he builds across academia, government, and beyond. He is a leading contributor in Pamplin’s commitment to advancing research that improves society and in the actualization of Virginia Tech’s research frontiers,” said Roberta (Robin) Russell, interim dean of Pamplin. 

Venkatesh is a fellow of the Association for Information Systems (AIS) and the Information Systems Society, INFORMSPrior to Virginia Tech, he held faculty appointments at University of Arkansas, University of Maryland, and visiting appointments at universities around the world. He earned his Ph.D. from University of Minnesota.