Associate Professor of Management, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership
Texas Christian University (Neeley School of Business)
Brad Harris, an associate professor of management, entrepreneurship, and leadership is currently on the editorial board of five journals and is also the 2018 winner of the Innovation in Teaching Curriculum Award from the Neeley School of Business. The 37-year-old’s research focuses on teamwork, leadership, organizational transitions, and human resource management and his outstanding work has been published in 10 journals.
“I have had Dr. Harris in class and he embodies everything that graduate work should be,” one nominator told us. “Encouraging open discussion through outward and inward reflection, driving innovation through research, and pouring into his students in such a fatherly way. I also traveled to Vietnam and China with him as a study abroad opportunity, and his diligence in planning and the help he offered students was unmatched. Not to mention all of the graduate students, from 23 to 50+ all hold him in the highest regard.”
Harris earned his MBA from the University of Florida and his Ph.D. from Texas A&M in Management. On top of his excellent teaching, Harris has also won numerous reviewer awards including the 2018 Best Reviewer Award from Personnel Psychology, 2017 “The Seshe” Reviewer Award from The Leadership Quarterly, and Outstanding Reviewer Award from the Journal of Organizational Behavior every year since 2012. His work has been cited almost 750 times by other scholars and has been mentioned on many media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, and Fast Company.
Current Age: 37
At current institution since what year? 2015
Education: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Texas A&M University (Management); Master’s of Business Administration, University of Florida (Finance and Management); Bachelor’s of Business Administration, Texas Tech University (Finance)
List of current MBA courses you currently teach: Leading Teams and Organizations, People Analytics, MBA International Business Experience (Asia)
TELL US ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS A PROFESSOR:
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I was working on my undergraduate degree. The professors at Texas Tech just seemed so smart and interesting and I loved that they wanted to help me. Same goes for my MBA experience at the University of Florida. That’s where it started, I guess, but I lacked the confidence to jump right in—I honestly didn’t think I had the chops to be like my professors. I didn’t particularly enjoy “real jobs”, though, so I finally took the plunge after a few years. And thank goodness I did.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?
I’m fascinated by teams—what makes them work and, all too often, what makes them not work. My recent work highlights just how important it is for us to acknowledge and manage the individuals in teams instead of just following the old “there is no I in team” approach. We’ve known for a while now that individuals can disproportionately affect overall team outcomes (e.g., “stars”), but we’re starting to unpack characteristics beyond knowledge, skills, and ability that matter. A big one is network characteristics. If a team leader has a reasonable understanding of how information, advice, and other resources flow between specific team members, then s/he can design strategies and interventions that enable desirable individual attributes to spread more freely throughout the entire team.
If I weren’t a business school professor… Geez, who knows? Maybe a farmer or basketball coach. Let’s say farmer.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?
I try to be as authentic as I can in the classroom (dad jokes and questionable puns included). When students can see who I am and what I’m about, they feel more comfortable opening up and engaging in our discussions. I’ve also gotten more comfortable saying ‘I don’t know’, which helps get rid of the ‘sage on the stage’ stigma that can stifle interesting and deep conversations. Quality interaction is key in my classes. We all have unique backgrounds and stories, so shame on me if I don’t facilitate opportunities for us to learn from one another.
One word that describes my first-time teaching: Anxious
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor:
No one ever really teaches you how to teach. You do a bunch of research for a couple of years, then one day you end up in front of a classroom with a bunch of students sizing you up. Thank goodness for helpful colleagues, mentors, and role models.
Professor you most admire and why:
That’s tough—I’ve got heroes at every place I’ve been so far. If I had to choose, I’d say Rich Lutz at the University of Florida for #1a and Brad Kirkman at NC State as #1b. They both went out of their way to give me encouragement and coaching when I didn’t know what I was doing or where I was headed (in their classes and beyond). They inspired me to try to do the same for my students, especially those that are just trying to figure out what the heck they’re doing.
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?
I love the moments when students realize there is no predefined “right” answer to a problem, but instead of getting frustrated or shutting down they dive into the messiness using their own critical thinking.
What is most challenging?
They are so clever when they want to be. They can argue just about anything persuasively, so I have to stay on my toes. It’s a good challenge.
Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student: Skeptical
Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Cynical
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Developmental. I really push a “not there yet” mindset.
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM:
What are your hobbies?
Playing with my kids, running, reading, and watching/debating true crime series with my wife.
How will you spend your summer?
It’ll start with an MBA study abroad trip to China, then the rest will be a mix of research and spending lots of time with my family.
Favorite place(s) to vacation: Muir Woods (California) or a good beach.
Favorite book(s): Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
What is your favorite movie and/or television show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?
Field of Dreams. As I kid, the idea of building a baseball field in a cornfield just seemed perfect. Now, I appreciate other parts of the movie—the guts to make seemingly irrational choices, the importance of parent-child relationships, etc. For TV, I absolutely love “Community” (now canceled, but still streaming!), which is about a dysfunctional study group at a dysfunctional community college. It is not for everyone.
Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: Tom Petty.
THOUGHTS OF REFLECTIONS:
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Integrative and experiential opportunities involving the broader University and community. I want to see our students working on real (i.e., messy) projects alongside engineers, architects, English majors, artists, and all of the other interesting groups on campus. I have no doubt they’ll learn more deeply about management, leadership, entrepreneurship, marketing, finance, accounting, supply chains, etc. if they’re knee deep into a cause that matters to them. I imagine they’ll also quickly realize there are far fewer rules than our textbooks might have them assume, which will encourage them to think critically and creatively. And I’m just talking about learning outcomes—some of these projects could really make a positive difference in our world!
In your opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at doing what?
There is still just so much untapped human capital in organizations. The most successful companies will be those that figure out how to develop people, systems, and structures that facilitate meaningful collaborations and set the stage for employees to feel empowered. We’re making progress—in science and practice—, but we’ve got a long way to go.
Faculty and administrators say:
“Brad is simply one of the most innovative instructors I have encountered. He is always looking for new ways to help his students learn, and, more importantly, embody critical leadership skills. That’s something that’s not easy to do in a typical classroom setting. Brad meets this challenge by thinking creatively about how best to expose students to critical knowledge, giving them opportunities to see that knowledge applied by others, and giving them hands-on opportunities to try applying it themselves. Students in his courses report experiencing the most meaningful learning that they’ve ever been a part of.” – Dr. Hettie Richardson, Chair, Department of Management and Leadership, TCU Neeley School of Business
“I have had Dr. Harris in class and he embodies everything that graduate work should be. Encouraging open discussion through outward and inward reflection, driving innovation through research, and pouring into his students in such a fatherly way. I also traveled to Vietnam and China with him as a study abroad opportunity, and his diligence in planning and the help he offered students was unmatched. Not to mention all of the graduate students, from 23 to 50+ all hold him in the highest regard.”
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