Meet Ismail Karabas:
Discovering His passion Through Business Education and Research

By Eric Hollenbeck

PhD candidate Ismail Karabas’ interest in business and consumer behavior began at a young age. Karabas, who grew up in Aydin, Turkey, would often go to work with his mother when he wasn’t in school and keep himself busy helping with minor tasks while observing the world around him.

“I started when I was 10 or 11, working on farms or in cafés doing little things here and there,” he says.

As he got older, he had the opportunity to sell traditional Turkish bread to people passing by on the street during the holy month of Ramadan. This allowed Karabas to showcase his salesmanship and “pitch” the benefits of warm fresh bread to those walking past.

These types of experiences spurred his curiosity for what drives people’s purchasing decisions, ultimately laying the foundation for his academic pursuits.

Karabas earned his bachelor’s degree from Izmir University of Economics (IUE) in Turkey where he double majored in business administration and logistics management. He continued his postgraduate education at IUE, eventually earning a master’s degree in logistics management.

As a graduate research assistant, Karabas’ interests shifted from the practical side of business toward teaching and research, and after earning his master’s degree, he decided to move to the United States and pursue his PhD at Washington State University’s Carson College of Business.

Honing research and cultivating minds

As a doctoral student, Karabas has excelled as both a researcher and undergraduate instructor. His research paper on consumer behavior was awarded the Best Student Paper Award at the Association of Marketing Theory and Practice’s (AMTP) 2017 annual conference.

His research examines how people respond when they witness a negative interaction between an employee and a customer, specifically when the observer is not directly involved in the exchange. The findings show that simply witnessing the negative interaction causes the observer to “punish” the employee and the business.

Karabas has not only received recognition for his research, he was also honored with the 2017 Carson College of Business Outstanding Student Teacher Award for his commitment to providing the highest level of undergraduate classroom instruction.

In order to create interesting and engaging lectures, Karabas often reflects on his own undergraduate experience and puts himself in his students’ shoes. “I think of how I would have wanted the topic presented,” he says. “Then I approach it from an instructor’s perspective to develop the curriculum.”

Karabas immerses his students in business topics through interactive lectures and on-site visits to campus business, such as The Bookie, to give students a more first-hand look at different aspects of business, such as operations and logistics.

His approach to teaching has certainly paid off, as he consistently receives high praise from his students on evaluations, as well as from Carson College faculty who observe his course preparation and approach. Everything he does in regards to his lectures focuses on helping students become stronger critical and analytical thinkers, he says.

Karabas graduates in spring 2018 with his PhD in marketing. He credits Carson College faculty mentors for much of his professional growth, as well as for preparing him for life after graduate school.

As for the future, after he graduates, Karabas and his wife plan to move Kentucky, where he recently accepted a position with Murray State University. The couple are also expecting their first baby in June. Perhaps one day Karabas’ son or daughter will tag along with him to work, and even develop the same love for business as their father.