The Value of Education in Research

by Jim Berling

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” ―Anthony J. D’Angelo

Education has always played a pivotal role in defining Burke as a company. Over the past 90 years, we’ve made a conscious, concerted effort to prioritize learning, both internally and externally. We’ve always believed that our growth—not only as a company, but as individuals—is dependent upon our willingness to learn, to understand, and to embrace new wisdom.

Perhaps that’s no coincidence.

Because, as researchers, we’re really teachers at heart—helping our clients learn more about their consumers, their challenges and their opportunities. So, let’s take a look at how the value of education has influenced the growth of both our company, and of our entire industry. 

A Foundation of Education

In 1931, during the Great Depression, there wasn’t much room for error if you were brave enough to start a company. Alberta Burke understood that. She knew she needed a highly- skilled workforce.

The interviewers she recruited underwent extensive training that helped ingrain the best practices she helped pioneer. Ultimately, Alberta’s rigorous standards for quality became the industry standards for conducting door-to-door marketing research interviews. In essence, her willingness to learn—and pass that knowledge on to her employees—is part of what came to define not only Burke, but marketing research as a whole.

Instituting Change

As technology advanced and methodologies changed, Burke realized that the industry needed new standards of excellence. Following the example set forth by Alberta, decades earlier, Burke endeavored to formalize its research-education efforts. The result was the Burke Institute, founded in 1975 under the guidance of Dr. Sid Venkatesh—the dedicated education and training arm of our organization.

Since its inception, the Burke Institute has gained a reputation as a “Purveyor of Truth,” combining academic rigor with real-world research applications to create a one-of-a-kind learning experience. The organization provides an outlet for the wealth of industry knowledge we’ve accumulated as a company; this directly benefits not only our own employees, but also our clients, our suppliers, and many others. In fact, the Burke Institute’s educational programs have been implemented in more than 40 countries, reaching countless insights professionals around the world.

While many of the Burke Institute’s founding programs—like introductory and advanced data analysis, segmentation, moderator training, and pricing—continue to play an important role in our curriculum, the content has evolved as new techniques and methods have been integrated. In addition, we’ve added fresh new programs to meet the ever-growing needs of the industry, including storytelling, data visualization, and facilitation skills—all with an emphasis on building relevant, practical skills.

Beyond the Institute

While the Burke Institute represents the focal point of our education efforts, we actively extend our knowledge and influence to the industry in a variety of ways. For instance, Burke senior leaders have sat on advisory boards for marketing research graduate programs and affiliated organizations for years. Paired with financial support, our guidance and insights in these critical roles has helped sustain the growth of many prestigious research and insights institutions. Moreover, many of our thought leaders also teach or support academic institutions, serving as adjunct professors, guest speakers, or subject-matter experts.

Reaching the Community

Teaching research fundamentals is, no doubt, critical to sustaining and improving our industry. But our industry wouldn’t exist at all without a strong foundation of education in our communities—and a culture that supports it. So, just as we have strengthened the field of marketing research with our commitment to education, we endeavor to strengthen our communities by extending that commitment beyond our business.

For instance, our 35-year partnership with a local elementary school, Rees E. Price Academy, provides guidance and resources to help the school, and its students, achieve more. Furthermore, we’ve implemented two newer initiatives that target teenagers and young adults: The Alberta Burke Academy empowers high-school students to seize, forge, and define their own opportunities through focused mentorship and educational/financial support, while the Minority Access Partnership Program offers internship opportunities with Burke and with three other Cincinnati-based marketing research firms, with whom we’ve partnered.

Our Commitment Continues

We can safely say that the importance of education will always remain at the forefront of our priorities, our passions and our identity as a company. Because, after all, research is education. And as researchers, we embrace our roles and responsibilities not only as educators, but also as students—ready and willing to learn and to grow.

With over 20 years of hands-on experience working with clients in 21 countries and as Managing Director at Burke Institute, Jim Berling is a lifelong coach of research and insights best practices. Jim is dedicated to helping clients enhance their research skills to better understand customers and leverage insights from their research in engaging and actionable ways.

If you would like to learn more about Burke Institute, please visit

Interested in reading more? Here’s more from the 90th edition:

Upholding Burke’s Legacy of High Quality Data Collection

Building A Thriving, Sustainable Company Culture

You can also check out Jim’s other articles:

What is an Insight?

Storytelling Retold

As always, you can follow Burke, Inc. on our LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram pages.


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