In the past four years, the School of Business and Economics has welcomed ten new faculty members in various disciplines. These new professors complement our strong existing faculty and broaden the base of expertise in all facets of business education.
“With an extensive recruiting process, we brought people to campus who have a wide range of competencies,” said Dean Darrell Radson. “Together with our foundational faculty members, the resulting team is poised to help the School achieve its major educational goals and to build a comprehensive education program for Michigan Tech.”
The new faculty members come from all walks of life and all corners of the globe. Some approach business and economics education from a pure theoretical standpoint, while others complement their teaching with technological expertise well suited to the Michigan Tech environment. The new faculty members bring with them a global awareness, passion for entrepreneurship, and practical experience that will prepare students for a recovering economy.
Technology Integration and Entrepreneurship
“It’s about disruptive innovations or lower-performing technologies that are less expensive, more convenient and more customizable—which allow young entrepreneurs to come in under the radar of big companies and establish themselves in the market,” said Assistant Professor Andre Laplume, who comes to Michigan Tech with an MBA and a PhD in Management.
LaPlume has an ideal balance of practice and theory that allows him to place a high value on seamless integration of business and technology. The University’s very nature attracts students with a high level of technological interest and a passion for entrepreneurship. The new faculty members bring strong technology backgrounds and outstanding industry and entrepreneurial experience to the classroom.
“Michigan Tech gives me the freedom to teach and research directly in technology strategy and management,” added LaPlume, who had seven years of industry experience before pursuing his graduate education. He uses this experience in the classroom to bring abstractions down to a concrete level, connecting theory to reality.
During the hiring process, the selection team actively sought candidates with formal education in both technology and business. Rick and Jo Berquist Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Saurav Pathak fits perfectly with that goal and holds PhDs in both Mechanical Engineering and Entrepreneurship. In the classroom, he believes in the power of experiential learning and actively seeks out opportunities for business students to develop their own entrepreneurial ventures and business situations.
Pathak’s ongoing research investigates the contextual influences on individual-level entrepreneurial actions and examines an individual’s propensity to engage in entrepreneurship across cultures, social reference groups, and organizations. He is also working on a National Science Foundation proposal to develop a wireless communication program on campus and a project that would create entrepreneurial opportunities for returning veterans using their military skill-sets.
Entrepreneurship and technology will be ongoing areas of focus in coming years, starting in fall 2012. “To complement our growing tradition of entrepreneurship, the School of Business and Economics is hiring another faculty member to fill the position of Gates Assistant Professorship in Entrepreneurship and Innovation,” said Radson. “We believe that providing students with opportunities to create their own ventures will serve them well, even in a tough job market.”
Environmental, Social and Sustainable Focuses
With issues of sustainability playing a major role in consumer and industry decisions, graduates from Michigan Tech must be well versed in finding feasible ways to implement environmentally friendly solutions. Assistant Professor Becky Lafrancois said, “A great idea from science only works with the right implementation. Economists and marketing professionals are the bridge between sustainable solutions and consumers.” Lafrancois’ focus in energy and environmental economics approaches sustainability from a policy standpoint and researches how climate and energy policy can be used to encourage the use of cleaner fuels.
Assistant Professor Daya Muralidharan notes that Michigan Tech’s multidisciplinary research tradition makes it an ideal place to study the practical impacts of environmental, social, and sustainable issues on every part of the process. To that end, she is involved in the Center for Water and Society on campus, which brings together students and faculty for research, outreach, and certification. With a PhD in Resource Economics, Muralidharan teaches courses related to economics, microeconomics, and natural resource economics; her research projects include sustainable water use and the impact of sustainable forest products in developing countries.
From market leakage to energy policy, each new professor brings a different specialty to the School, ensuring that students are exposed to the latest in cutting-edge research techniques and topics. Current faculty research activities span the spectrum.
Assistant Professor Haiyan Huang, who has a PhD in Information Sciences and Technology and a background in ceramic sciences and materials engineering, is conducting four major research projects that impact the changing face of global business. One project explores how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of work collaborations among global virtual teams; another focuses on ways to leverage social media. Huang also studies the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the information technology (IT) sectors, with the goal of determining how to promote and foster diversity in the IT workforce. A fourth project examines the global IT sectors and the connections between the development of IT sectors and the sustainability of an information economy.
Assistant Professor Soonkwan Hong and Assistant Professor Junhong Min examine other aspects of business, focusing on marketing and consumer behavior. Hong investigates the changing face of consumption, with special attention to the sociocultural and ideological aspects. He examines consumer identity, cyborgian consumers—highly connected socially and with technology—consumer agency, and how consumers become surrogate marketers. Min approaches consumerism from a marketing perspective; his research is based in the Upper Peninsula (read more in the Developing Business Innovations story).
Leaders in Global Business
Keeping pace with an increasingly interconnected global community, the School continues to prepare students for business and economics across a range of cultures. “Our new faculty members contribute to a more global vision for business education,” said Associate Dean Tom Merz. “They are fluent in adapting business practices to different cultures and international standards.”
With extensive educational and practical experience in international settings, our new faculty members bring global knowledge to the classroom. Assistant Professor Liang Song, who developed a comprehensive background in management information systems at Jilin University and Fudan University, before earning a PhD in Finance at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was a visiting scholar at the research department of the European Union (EU) Central Bank. Lecturer Emanuel Oliveira, who specializes in macroeconomics, international economics, and econometrics, worked in the Portuguese private sector as a consultant on EU projects for governmental and private institutions; he was also an EU-certified instructor for innovation, business internationalization, and management.
Saurav Pathak has a truly global educational background: he earned a PhD in Entrepreneurship from Imperial College Business School in London; a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida; and Mechanical Engineering degrees from Ohio University and the Birla Institute of Technology in India. He has firsthand knowledge of different business practices and traditions around the world and introduces them to students with a memorable technique.
“I set up a number of silent card games, where each table is playing with a different set of rules,” he said. “When a student wins, they go to a new table, where the rules are all new. The experience parallels what a business must do when they succeed in one country and want to expand internationally. They must learn to navigate the new practices and regulations.”
Experiential Education and Student Involvement
An important focus is to provide students with practical, hands-on experiences that enable them to apply theoretical principles. To that end, new faculty members encourage students to seek experiences outside of the classroom and actively engage them in projects and organizations. Andre LaPlume led a group of fifteen students from across campus on a spring break trip to Silicon Valley, where they networked with alumni and toured Fortune 500 companies. Emanuel Oliveira advises the iOMe challenge team, which encourages students to find creative economically and politically sound solutions to pressing financial problems.
Min earned his PhD after spending a number of years working in industry. He now teaches marketing research and business-to-business marketing, and involves his students in real-world projects. Working in partnership with the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA), Min and his market research students conducted a consumer survey to identify money leakage areas in the local market. Students presented to KEDA and the Chamber of Commerce and received extensive feedback to put into practice for future studies.
In the 2011–12 school year, the class is focusing on airport leakage issues that are reducing business to the Houghton County Memorial Airport. His business-to-business marketing students also work with local clients, finding ways to improve visibility and communication. Min is currently in the process of creating a Market Research Center in the School of Business and Economics, which will connect highly proficient students with paid marketing projects in the Keweenaw.
Accounting Takes Off
As part of the School of Business and Economics’ mission to provide students with a comprehensive business education, two new faculty members are expanding the program offerings. Extending the legacy of accounting powerhouse and late Professor Emeritus Sam Tidwell, Assistant Professor Josh Filzen and Liang Song are developing an MS in Accountancy at Michigan Tech. The program will include an experiential education component and is expected to launch in fall 2013. Filzen also brings an industry background to teaching as a former senior accountant at Moss Adams who specialized in audits of financial institutions. Perhaps his favorite former work experience was as a concessions manager for the Spokane Indians baseball team.
From around the world in travel, cultural understanding, and experience, this team of faculty members supports the School and builds on years of experienced research and innovative teaching techniques.
“We’re happy to welcome this group to the table, and our expectations for their research and teaching are at an all-time high.”
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.