DBA graduate and fellowship recipient Dr. Kristina Harris fosters sustainable growth of microenterprises and small businesses in Bulgaria.

Dr. Kristina Harris ’15, a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) graduate, received a 2014 Fellowship in Research and Applications for Social Change, a $10,000 grant administered by the Office of the President, to pursue her study “Networking the Relationships of Microenterprise Development in Bulgaria.”

A 2014 mission trip to Bulgaria focused on economic development inspired Dr. Harris’ project. “Small business is the livelihood of Bulgaria,” she says. Because many Bulgarians live in remote villages, they often rely on creating a good or service for their income. “For the most part, they don’t have the skill sets, the economic backing, the infrastructure, and they don’t know how to network for resources,” she says.

When Dr. Harris returned to Bulgaria in November 2014 to conduct research with funding from the fellowship, she focused on networking. “One of my committee members is from Bulgaria, and she helped give me a native’s perspective.” Dr. Harris also took advice she heard at a Walden residency and reached out to an author she came across in her research, Dr. Desislava Ivanova Yordanova of Sofia University in Bulgaria. “She has been a great resource for me,” Dr. Harris says.

Gaining the trust of study participants was critical to her success. “I really had to make a point of getting in touch with people and sharing myself with them so they were more open to share with me,” she says.

Dr. Harris presented her research at Walden’s 2015 Research Symposium in July and will return to Bulgaria in October to present at the 18th annual Conference on Social Sustainability Through Competitiveness With Qualitative Growth at Sofia University. “An initial goal of mine is to present to the people who need and can really use the information,” says Dr. Harris. She also plans to have her findings translated into Bulgarian and to share the information with study participants and partner organizations.

Many of her participants had ideas for potential follow-up studies, says Dr. Harris. “Now that I have my DBA, there might be opportunities where I could collaborate with them on additional projects,” she says.

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