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Reward 20 June 2022

The winner of the prestigious AFM Prize at TSM

Giuilia Pavone, a TSM PhD student from Sicily, Italy, just won the prestigious AFM prize thanks to her thesis on “Using and interacting with AI-based intelligent technologies: practical applications on autonomous cars and chatbots” written at TSM and supervised by Lars Meyer-Waarden and Andreas Munzel. 

 

  • What was your background before coming to TSM?

I started my studies at the University of Palermo, the city where I come from, where I got a degree in Communication Sciences. Afterwards, I got a master degree in Marketing, Consumption and Communication with a specialisation in Brand Management at the International University of Languages and Media (IULM) in Milan. 

The interest in research, above all related to consumers’ behaviours and new technologies drove my decision to start a PhD and pursue an academic career. For these reasons, in 2017 I came to Toulouse and I enrolled in the Doctoral Programme of Toulouse School of Management!

 

  • Your thesis is about “Using and interacting with AI-based intelligent technologies: practical applications on autonomous cars and chatbots”. Why did you choose to work on this topic?

We are living in a fast-evolving society, where technological transformation is completely changing companies, organisations, interpersonal relationships, individuals’ lifestyles, and habits. In this regard, the interest in artificial intelligence (AI) has boomed in recent years, with advances of deep learning, the introduction of faster computers and the augmented production and usage of data. 

Many companies, institutions and researchers in different fields, have started to focus on the development of AI. Besides them, also consumers, citizens and individuals have started to use AI applications in their daily life routine, conscientiously or not! In this context, there was and there is still a lot of scepticism around this subject, raising many questions about the way we should implement AI, the way individuals are going to use and accept intelligent products, and about the ethical dilemmas of introducing such disruptive technologies in our society. 

Thus, during the M.Sc. I started to discuss and exchange ideas with my thesis supervisors, Professor Lars Meyer-Waarden and Professor Andreas Munzel, to better define our units of analysis and research questions. We decided to focus on 2 of the most discussed AI applications which are defining the future of AI technology in marketing and consumer behaviors research: conversational agents such as chatbots, and autonomous vehicles. 

Thanks to an international collaboration with Professor Marc Kuhn from the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) in Stuttgart, Germany, I had the incredible opportunity to have access to real semi-autonomous cars of level 2 and fully autonomous cars of level 5 in a simulated environment, conducting both field studies and simulator studies. The research visit at DHBW Stuttgart was a very important step to better define my research questions and research designs, allowing me to conduct up-to-date research with a great research team!

 

  • How did TSM support your work and thesis?

TSM provided great support both professionally and humanely!

First, as a PhD student, I had the opportunity to learn from great professors and researchers who shared their knowledge and their passion for research. In this regard, TSM provides in-depth courses and seminars on important topics such as quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, ethics of research, academic writing, etc. All these courses and seminars provide a very valuable knowledge for conducting high quality research and be prepared as an academic. 

In addition, TSM always supports PhD students to develop their networks both at the national and international levels. In this regard, during my PhD journey, I had the opportunity to attend conferences in Le Havre (AFM), Hamburg (EMAC), Tunis (AFM) and to do a research visiting in Stuttgart at the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW). 

Besides, TSM helped me to grow as a teacher. Since the beginning, I have had the opportunity to teach at different levels (L1, L2, M1, M2) and different courses: such as core courses, TD, business games, master thesis supervision.

Thanks to its multicultural team and interdisciplinary environment, TSM doctoral programme is a great place to grow as a researcher and as a person, by exchanging with other colleagues with many different cultural and professional backgrounds, both in the office and during all the nice social events that have been organized during these years.

 

  • How did you participate in this contest?

The Association Française du Marketing (AFM) thesis prize is a very renowned award in the French Marketing Academic community. In this regard, the AFM is a well-known and high-level association, where academics, experts and professionals of the marketing discipline come together every year during the annual conference to share their most up-to-date research. On this occasion, every year the AFM awards the best PhD thesis prize, along with other prizes such as the best research article award or the best pedagogical case study award.  

Each year the AFM publish the call for the thesis prize on their websites and on their social media networks, where they give the guidelines to participate in the contest. So, if you are a PhD student and you want to participate, I suggest checking their website regularly, to get familiar with the guidelines and, of course, to not miss the deadline!

 

  • You have won the prize for the best thesis in marketing (congratulations!), what impact will this have on your future?

I feel very happy and honoured to have received this prize.

In particular, the AFM has very high-quality standards, following a precise and well-defined evaluation process for assigning the thesis prizes, which makes this award a great achievement!

Receiving this prize is a great opportunity to share my research, actively participating in the discussion around AI in the marketing and consumers behaviours discipline. It is also an opportunity to get to know other researchers working both on similar and different topics, developing my network and potentially creating new collaborations!

 

  • What are your plans for the future?

Starting from September 2022, I will be an assistant professor and researcher at Kedge Business School! 

Thus, I plan to continue conducting research both at the national and international levels, above all on topics related to the ethics of artificial intelligence, the effects of technological usage at the individual, company and societal levels. 

I want to conduct research with a positive impact, which helps companies and institutions to implement better technologies that improve individual and societal well-being. I also plan to teach and share knowledge with students, an important part of the academic job that I really like, as it allows me to connect with students, companies and other institutions!

 

  • Do you have any advice to give? 

Yes, I actually have some advices for the PhD students who are currently navigating through their PhD journey: be resilient! Although you might choose your research topic working on something you love, sometimes the PhD can get tough. In those moments, the finish line seems to be so far away. However, it is not about the final destination, but about the journey. It is a long-term learning process which requires patience, continuous self-improvement, self-discipline, and resilience. 

It is important to discuss and share with your peers and sometimes, it is important to understand when it is the moment to take a break and breathe, working on your life-work balance!