Fr. Mascarenhas balances passion for business research with religious vocation
Oswald Mascarenhas, S.J., balances two fulfilling lives—one as a Jesuit priest spanning over half a century, and the other as a researcher and a professor of Marketing in the UDM College of Business Administration.
He teaches a variety of subjects including domestic and global marketing strategies. His ongoing research examines those topics as well as business ethics, Internet marketing and computer/consumer privacy. A widely published author, Fr. Mascarenhas is also a beloved Detroit-area priest and a highly respected classroom instructor, as evidenced by his 1992 selection as Best Teacher in the College of Business Administration.
Of his dual vocations, Fr. Mascarenhas says, “While ongoing academic learning has fascinated me, priestly ministry has really defined and nurtured me. Each one of my parishioners and students has made me a better priest each day. I am grateful.”
Born in Bombay, India, Fr. Mascarenhas attended St. Aloysius College, Mangalore, where he excelled as a student. “I was good in academics K-12 and through college. I joined the Jesuit order after two years of college, and the Jesuit training spurred my desire for academics,” says Fr. Mascarenhas.
As a Jesuit regent, the years between philosophy and theology, Fr. Mascarenhas taught philosophy. As a priest, he taught theology in an inter-diocesan seminary in Mangalore, India. While teaching, Fr. Mascarenhas continued to pursue his education, and in 1968, received a Master’s of Philosophy from Karnataka University in Dhawar, India.
After a lengthy tenure in India as both a teacher and priest, Fr. Mascarenhas was sent by his superiors to study abroad. In 1970, he came to UDM, where he obtained his Master’s of Economics. The next fall, he attended the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia, where he obtained an MBA, majoring in Operations Research and Marketing, in 1974, and a Ph.D. in Business and Applied Economics in 1976. In January 1977, Fr. Mascarenhas returned to India as a professor of marketing at the Xavier Labor Relations Institute in Jamshedpur.
Kellstadt Chair in Marketing Research
Though Fr. Mascarenhas had originally planned to remain in India, he scheduled a sabbatical in 1982. “Just then, Fr. Richard Dempsey, a professor at UDM, came to Jamshedpur on a Fulbright scholarship. He informed me that UDM was doing a national search for its first endowed chair, The Charles H. Kellstadt Chair in Marketing Research,” recalls Fr. Mascarenhas.
Encouraged by the now late Fr. Dempsey, Fr. Mascarenhas first consulted his superiors and then forged ahead. After lengthy long-distance phone interviews, Fr. Mascarenhas occupied the Chair on September 1, 1983, a position he still holds.
At present, Fr. Mascarenhas researches the ethical aspects of new product development, healthcare, entrepreneurship, and Internet marketing. Most recently, he has developed an interest in business-turnaround management.
Either individually, or by co-authoring with colleagues, he has published four scholarly research books and more than 50 journal articles and conference proceedings. Fr. Mascarenhas is currently finishing a manuscript entitled Responsible Marketing: Concepts, Theories, Strategies and Cases, and is writing three other books on business-turnaround management.
Research is as pivotal to Fr. Mascarenhas as the courses he teaches.
“My particular area of research has always been applied business ethics,” says Fr. Mascarenhas. “I have focused on the application of major ethical theories such as teleology, deontology, distributive justice and virtue ethics to areas of business most prone to unethical practice.”
Research with practical outcomes
For Fr. Mascarenhas, research and classroom offerings are closely intermingled. “The new courses that I have developed and taught over the past eight years are outcomes of my research,” Fr. Mascarenhas says.
In particular, Fr. Mascarenhas’ research in business management turnaround helped spearhead UDM’s Business Turnaround Management Program within the College. Currently the program’s coordinator, he also served on the steering committee that developed its curriculum. One of the program’s courses, MBA 564 Business Turnaround Management, directly resulted from his research.
“The program empowers students with the ethics of both rescue and restructuring skills management involved in business turnarounds,” Fr. Mascarenhas says.
UDM students figure extensively in his research as well. “The Kellstadt Chair provides for graduate research assistance throughout the year,” he says. “Each semester since 1983, my graduate assistants from the colleges of Business Administration and Engineering & Science have helped me immensely in research design, data collection, data entry, data analysis and other technical aspects. They also help with proofreading, subject and author indexing. I am grateful for their help and input.”
While a committed educator and academic, Fr. Mascarenhas remains faithful to his Jesuit heritage as a priest. He still conducts many masses at UDM, especially for students, and is in demand at local parishes. Last summer, a large group of his friends and colleagues gathered at UDM to celebrate his 50th anniversary as a Jesuit.
Fr. Mascarenhas often reflects on that special occasion. “Every day thereafter has been a blessing,” he says.
“People are my riches, my strength and my everything.”