MBA, PhD Marketing (Wirtschaftsuniverersität) , MPsych (Wirtschaftsuniverersität, Wien)


Sara’s research is driven by genuine passion for solving challenges, be they methodological, theoretical or practical. She contributes to different fields within the social sciences.

In marketing, Sara has – with colleagues – improved segmentation methodology over two decades by: developing a technique that uses the stability across repeated calculations on bootstrap samples to determine the required segmentation concept and the optimal number of segments; deriving the first sample size recommendation to protect data analysts from random solutions; developing the first suite of graphical statistics methods to reduce the cognitive effort required to correctly interpret segments; developing perceptions-based market segmentation to avoid sequencing mistakes in strategic marketing; and introducing to segmentation analysis two powerful neural network methods (bagged clustering, a two-step process that increases the stability of results; and biclustering, which simultaneously groups individuals and selects variables, enabling analysis without selecting a subset of variables).

Sara has contributed to measurement in the social sciences – again in collaboration with esteemed colleagues - by determining and explaining the superiority of the forced-choice binary (yes-no) survey answer format, which consistently outperforms (in both validity and reliability) survey answer formats preferred by market researchers (pick any/n format, prone to evasion bias) and academics (multi-category ordinal formats with stability levels as low as 40%); developing a tool for selecting the most informative subset of survey items; and identifying key drivers of survey participation along with their relative importance.

In the area of sustainable tourism, Sara has contributed by pioneering a demand-driven approach to sustainable tourism that exploits tourists’ intrinsic motivation to behave environmentally friendly; proving that self-report measures overestimate (by as much as 46%) tourists’ pro-environmental behavior; introducing field experimentation with actual behavior as dependent variable to tourism; and identifying hedonism and as inhibitor of usual pathways to pro-environmental behavior, requiring fundamental theoretical reconceptualisations of pro-environmental behavior in hedonic contexts. Sara and her collaborators works with hotels to experimentally test interventions.

 Sara has also contributed to the area of social work with colleagues across Australia. In a longitudinal study of foster carers, they identified key psychological markers of successful foster parents, leading to changes in recruitment practices of foster care agencies.

Sara has recently been awarded a Laureate Fellowship from the Australian Research Council in recognition of the importance and excellence of her research.

2019 Web of Science Top Handling Editor Award

2019 Best Contribution Award at AIEST Conference 2019

2018 Award for Excellence in Blended Learning (UQ Business School, The University of Queensland)

2018 University of Ljubljana Distinguished Research Achievement Award 2018

2017 Award for Excellence in Higher Degree by Research Supervision, The University of Queensland

2017 Travel and Tourism Research Association (ttra) Distinguished Researcher Award

2017 Peter Keller Best Paper Award for the contribution that best integrated theoretical contribution and practical relevance at AIEST Conference 2017

2017 Publons Peer Review Award 2017 (top 1% of reviewers in Social Science)

2016 Slovenian Ambassador of Science (a national award given to one Slovenian native each year in recognition of outstanding achievements and global scientific impact, awarded by the Republic of Slovenia).

2016 Market Research Society Silver Medal awarded for the best paper published in the International Journal of Market Research in 2015

2016 Emerald Best Contribution Award for the best conference paper at the AIEST Conference 2016

2016 Sentinel of Science Award (publons) for being among the 10% most prolific reviewers in Business, Management and Accounting worldwide

2016 Charles R. Goeldner Article of Excellence Award for the best paper published in 2015 in the Journal of Travel Research

2015 Peter Keller Best Paper Award for the contribution that best integrated theoretical contribution and practical relevance at AIEST Conference 2015

2014 Tony Wheeler Award for Best Paper at the Australian Market and Social Research Society Conference 2014

2014 Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA) Service Partnership Award

2014 Best Paper Award – 64th AIEST Conference 2014

2011 Research Excellence Award for Senior Researcher (University of Wollongong)

2009 Commendation for Outstanding Supervision (University of Wollongong)

2008 Emerald Literati Highly Commended Award for Excellence

2006 Best Paper Award, “Marketing Research and Research Methodology” track at the Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference

2006 European Journal of Marketing Best Paper Award at the Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference

2005 Paper of the Year Award (Australasian Marketing Journal)

2004 Charles R. Goeldner Article of Excellence Award for the best paper published in 2003 in the Journal of Travel Research

1. Dolnicar, S., Kneževič Cvelbar, L., Grün, B. (2019) Changing service settings for the environment – how to reduce negative environmental impacts without sacrificing tourist statisfaction. Annals of Tourism Research, 76:301–304.

2. Dolnicar, S., Knezevic Cvelbar, L. & Grün, B. (2019). A sharing-based approach to enticing tourists to behave more environmentally friendly. Journal of Travel Research, 58(2):241-252.

3. Juvan, E., Grün, B. & Dolnicar, S. (2018) Biting Off More Than They Can Chew: Food Waste at Hotel Breakfast Buffets. Journal of Travel Research, 57(2):232-242.

4. Dolnicar, S., Knezevic Cvelbar, L. & Grün, B. (2017) Do pro-environmental appeals trigger pro-environmental behavior in hotel guests? Journal of Travel Research, 56(8):988-977.