Susan Harmeling was well into what has become a 30-year career as a business school case writer when she traveled to Croatia to design a graduate entrepreneurship course at the University of Osijek. It was September 2001, and the country was still recovering from its four-year war that had begun a decade before when Harmeling, working for the Open Society Institute founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros, organized a course focusing on entrepreneurial case research, writing, and teaching for both graduate students and faculty.
Harmeling’s eight visits to Croatia over two years formed an experience that changed the teacher as much as the students. She caught the entrepreneurship bug and decided to go back to school for a Ph.D. in the subject, which she received from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business in 2006. She’s been teaching entrepreneurship ever since.
“In Croatia, I saw the effect of entrepreneurship education done well, the effect it had on the mindset of these young people who had had their lives upended,” Harmeling tells Poets&Quants. “And I became utterly fascinated by that. Entrepreneurship education shapes the participants, and what I mean by that is, it’s the idea of creating a life for yourself no matter where you’re starting from and learning how to live an entrepreneurial life, to solve problems both for yourself and the world around you, whatever that world is, whatever that context is. I’m pretty passionate about that.”
This fall Harmeling brings her passion to another part of the world, the West Coast of the United States, joining the USC Marshall School of Business faculty as a visiting professor. She’s one of almost 200 new professors at top U.S. B-schools this year, and one of dozens who bring decades’ worth of experience to new campuses for the benefit of MBA students coast to coast.
LOTS OF NEW FACES, THOUGH MANY AREN’T SO NEW
In a survey by Poets&Quants, 24 of the top-ranked U.S. business schools provided lists of new professors on their campuses, including visiting profs and newly minted Ph.D.s. Of the 198 new professors, 112 — 57% — began their first MBA teaching job this fall. The experience level of the other 43% varies widely between those with just a year under their instructing belt to those with decades in the classroom: 862 total years of experience, to be exact, spread out between 86 professors, for an average of just over 10 years. (In a few cases only incomplete curricula vitae were available for professors; see the full lists at the bottom of the story.) Thirty-one professors bring at least 10 years’ experience to their new surroundings, 11 bring at least 20, and six have 30 years or more in front of the classroom; the prize for longest teaching career for a new hire goes to legendary MIT economist Eric von Hippel, who has been a professor at the Sloan School since 1973. Von Hippel joined Harvard Business School this fall as a visiting professor of business administration in the Technology and Operations Management unit.
HBS, in fact, is among the top hirers this year with 21, including veterans Margo Seltzer (25 years, Harvard College) and Andrei Shleifer (27 years, most recently at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business). The distinction for most hires goes to the Wharton School, with 26, including Herbert Hovenkamp, legal studies and business ethics prof of 40 years, and Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, healthcare management prof of 38 years’ experience. Several schools, in fact, saw waves of new professors this year, including USC Marshall (19 new profs, including Susan Harmeling), Columbia Business School (17), Indiana Kelley School of Business (16), Stanford Graduate School of Business (13), Michigan Ross School of Business (13), and Chicago Booth (10). On the other hand, Dartmouth Tuck School of Business hired just one new professor this year, while Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business, UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business, Duke Fuqua School of Business, and Minnesota Carlson School of Management each hired two apiece.
Last year, P&Q found that of 140 new professors at the 20 top schools, 61% were in their first jobs. Then as now, Harvard paced the hiring of new faces, with 18 new hires in 2016-2017.
FINANCE IS TOP DISCIPLINE, FOLLOWED BY DATA SCIENCES/OPERATIONS
There are many notable names this fall on schools’ rosters of new profs. Lars Hansen, winner of the 2013 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, brings 36 years of experience to Chicago Booth, teaching finance. Bart Bronnenberg, frequent awardee for his marketing research, arrives at Stanford GSB with 30 years’ experience in marketing instruction, most recently at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. Dean Karlan, newly installed as a professor of economics and finance at Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, is the president and founder of Innovations for Poverty Action, a nonprofit working to scale up successful solutions to global poverty problems.
Of all the new faces, most — 40 — are finance professors. Thirty-one teach some iteration of data sciences, tech, or operations, while 18 teach marketing, 17 teach accounting, 14 teach about organizations (organizational behavior, management of organizations, etc.), 10 teach economics, and only six teach strategy. Twenty-two new profs are listed as teaching basic management or business administration, while 18 teach some other course — ethics, for example, or history, communications, statistics. Finally, 13 new profs teach entrepreneurship — including Susan Harmeling, who after 11 years at Howard University School of Business in Washington, D.C., will teach two classes at USC Marshall this year in each of the fall and spring semesters: an entrepreneurship course and an Intro to Business course for non-business students, open to anyone enrolled at USC.
After her training at Harvard, from which she received her MBA in 1991, and after decades in case writing, Harmeling says students should expect a heavy dose of case study whenever she’s in front of a class. After all, she’s the founder and president of the International Case Method Institute, a consulting firm dedicated to developing and improving international business curricula based on the case study method. “What I try to focus on with the students, which we also did at HBS, is to teach both the content and the process,” she says. “The process of learning through the case method is equally important, if not even more important, than the actual course content. What I tell my students is, I won’t possibly be able to teach you everything there is to know about entrepreneurship. I am going to teach you about some of the most important theories and ideas, and about some fascinating businesses and how entrepreneurs behave and what we can learn from them. So I’ll teach you a lot of interesting things — but no professor could ever teach you all the content there is in any given subject.
“But what I will equally emphasize and what I think is just as important or even more important is the process of learning through the Socratic method — read the cases, analyze them, and then ask, ‘What do you think? Would you invest? Why would you invest? Give me your reasoning.’ And we do that over and over and over, and after that constant analysis you start to become better at it. They’re going to be asked what their opinion is and they’re going to be asked to back it up with facts and evidence and make decisions given limited information, and that’s what I think is very valuable about the case method.”
(See the complete list of new professors and their disciplines and years of experience on pages 3 to 5.)
*This story has been revised to reflect that Wharton had not four new hires, as originally reported, but 26.