Strategic Management & Entrepreneurship Assistant Professor Russ Funk shares answers to five questions that reveal the issues he's studying, following, teaching, and reading about today. Plus a peek into the life he imagines, were he not teaching at the Carlson School.
Q: What is/are your current area(s) of research? What business challenges are you helping to solve?
A: A big stream of my current research focuses on the business challenges of health care reform. Most people know the Affordable Care Act (popularly known as “Obamacare”) because of the individual mandate and health care exchanges. But the act also created a new organizational form of health care delivery.
Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are groups of hospitals, clinics, and other facilities that come together to take responsibility for the overall health of a patient population. Providers who are are part of an ACO are rewarded with shared savings when they increase the quality and lower the cost of care for their patients.
Although many are optimistic that ACOs will help control health care spending, there are also many managerial challenges to implementing these new forms of health care delivery, particularly around coordinating care and other activities across disparate member organizations. My focus has been on applying management theories and techniques from social network analysis to understand what coordination strategies are most successful.
Q: What current business issues or stories in the news are you following and why?
A: Given my interests in health care reform, I’m particularly interested in the 2016 presidential election. Most of the candidates have not yet given specific details on their policy vision and whether they plan to continue or change regulations introduced by the Affordable Care Act.
The next few months will be exciting as we learn more details about each of the candidate’s plans.
Q: What is your favorite class to teach?
A: I am currently teaching MGMT 1005, Corporate Responsibility and Ethics. It’s a thought-provoking class because the issues are complex and oftentimes there is no clear right or wrong answer. The students are the best part of teaching the course because they bring many interesting ideas, perspectives, and stories to our discussions.
Q: If you weren’t a business school professor, what would you be doing?
A: I love being a business school professor, but if I weren’t here, I would probably be consulting as a data scientist. I also have dreams of living in the Quetico Provincial Park and canoeing my days away.
Q: What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
A: It's a few years old (2011) but John E. McDonough's book, "Inside National Health Reform" is excellent. It gives a great account of the policy process that led to the Affordable Care Act along with a very useful overview of the law's major components.