Q: What is/are your current area(s) of research? What business challenges are you helping to solve?
A: My research is in the area of non-market strategy which, broadly speaking, examines how firms deal with elements of the institutional environment such as governments, interest groups, the media, activists, and the public. These “non-market” actors are playing increasingly important roles in influencing firms and their bottom lines. And firms, in response, are trying to figure out how to best engage with their political and social environment in order to sustain competitive advantages.
Empirically, we observe many different forms of non-market actions that firms undertake. For example, lobbying, managing social activism, philanthropy, green technology, social entrepreneurship, and the list goes on.
The question I’m trying to address in my current research, is how firms may choose between various options and come up with a coherent non-market strategy that best serve the interests of shareholders, as well as benefitting the society at large.
Q: What current business issues or stories in the news are you following and why?
A: The recent story on Mark Zuckerberg’s charity and the subsequent debates over so-called "philanthrocapitalism" is fascinating. What they highlight, I think, is the lack of a clear understanding of how actions towards solving social problems should be best organized, and how corporate involvement would deliver most value to the society. Answers to these questions will allow us to move beyond the current discussion of whether "philanthrocapitalism" is good or bad, by saying something about how these resources should be best directed.
Q: What is your favorite class to teach?
A: I enjoy teaching MGMT 3010 Introduction to Entrepreneurship. Students that I have had in the past three years are creative and full of energy, and it’s been a lot of fun seeing them flesh out their own start-up ideas. I look forward to offering this class again in Spring 2016.
Q: If you weren’t a business school professor, what would you be doing?
Q: What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
A: I enjoyed re-visiting Professor Joseph Galaskiewicz’s book "Social Organization of An Urban Grants Economy: A Study of Business Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations" over the winter break. Using the Twin Cities as a research site, it allows for a close look at how corporate communities organize collective actions, which is particularly interesting with respect to the recent NYT coverage on the Itasca group.