Elizabeth M. Campbell
Assistant Professor of Work and Organizations
University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management
Have you ever heard of a Campbell Detour? MBA students at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management have. It’s what happens when Elizabeth Campbell — a 35-year-old assistant professor of work and organizations takes “instructional tangents that follow good questions,” and lead to deeper and more tangible discussion,” according to Connie Wanberg, professor and industrial relations faculty excellence chair at Minnesota Carlson. Campbell has been instructing and researching at Minnesota’s Carlson School since 2014, directly after earning her Ph.D. in organizational behavior from the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business.
“While teaching is time- and energy-consuming and she (Campbell) is not a natural presenter, she genuinely enjoys engaging with students and facilitating their development,” Wanberg said in her nomination of Campbell. “She deeply cares about education and making a difference in students’ lives by helping them through challenging content, sparking their own curiosity, and encouraging their own self-development/investment in themselves.
“In her classroom, no one is special but everyone is important,” Wanberg continued. “She strives to engage all students, using creative approaches including reflection exercises, varied formats of mini-presentation, posters on the wall and markers, reciprocity rings and more. She once told me that if you listen for understanding and with curiosity, you can learn something from almost everyone you cross paths with.”
Current Age: 35
At current institution since what year? Fall 2014
Ph.D., University of Maryland, Smith School of Business, Organizational Behavior (2014)
B.A. University of Michigan, Psychology (2005)
List of current MBA courses you currently teach: Leadership & Personal Development
TELL US ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS A PROFESSOR:
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I was meeting with Prof. Gretchen Spreitzer (Michigan) in undergrad. She generously shared some of her experiences in academia. During that conversation, Gretchen’s perspective helped me realized that I could make a career out of helping students and organizations while also essentially getting paid to read(!) and to ask/test research questions that are interesting and practical. Career lottery!
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?
I am fascinated by hidden consequences sparked by high performers in the workplace—consequences for the performers themselves, their peers, and their workgroups. To date, I have shown that high performers elicit both social support and social undermining from peers, face more abusive supervision than average performers, engage in more abuse of their employees, get away with more abuse of employees and unethical behavior, trigger disgust and contempt, affect peers’ learning and motivation to contribute proactively, and both help and hinder team innovative processes.
If I weren’t a business school professor… I would either be a human rights lawyer or still be a social scientist in another context (i.e., helping organizations use their data to inform practice).
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?
My students’ feedback suggests that I stand out for three reasons: first, because I care about students enough to hold them accountable to high standards and their own self-development; second, I ask questions that drive in-depth, meaningful discussions; and finally, I work to make class “edutaining” because I believe learning should be fun. It’s probably also because I listen to them and invest in a strong two-way feedback climate.
One word that describes my first-time teaching: Over-prepped
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: The work itself and intellectual puzzles brought me to academia, but it’s really coauthors, mentors, and students that enrich my life—personally and professionally.
Professor you most admire and why:
This is the hardest question since there are many professors that I deeply admire, especially many senior female professors in OB. I’ll just mention two professors here. When I was 20, I had the fortune to work with and be inspired by Prof. Adam Grant (Wharton). His positive impact forever changed my career path. My admiration of Adam is exceeded only by his unmatched capacity to make the people around him better. Daily, I admire my Carlson School cohort-mate, Prof. Betty (Le) Zhou for her intellectual curiosity and brilliantly-organized mind. I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to continuously learn from both of these remarkable thinkers.
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?
When I learn that my course or interactions with a student helped them navigate a significant life or career decision and/or helped them develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their colleagues.
What is most challenging?
Encouraging them to believe in, invest in, and continuously improve themselves rather than making peer comparisons or “should-ing on themselves” for what they haven’t yet done.
Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious
Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Helicopter-parented (or pedantic)
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Challenging but constructive
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM:
What are your hobbies?
Continuously learning, collaborating with people who find joy in the research process, trivia, traveling, running, hiking, and yoga.
How will you spend your summer?
Vacationing in the Czech Republic for a week with good friends, and then working on my research!
Favorite place(s) to vacation: Someplace international that I haven’t yet been
Favorite book(s): Too many to name. I’m currently reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity by Lilliana Mason, The Person You Mean to Be by Dolly Chugh, and I just listened to Power Moves by Adam Grant.
What is your favorite movie and/or television show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?
“Parks and Recreation” due to the ensemble cast, great writing, thoughtful character development, and my love for Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler’s character), who cemented my enduring affection for her by ending the series with my favorite quote: “The best gift that life has to offer is a chance to work hard at work worth doing.” (Teddy Roosevelt)
Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist:
While working: Vivaldi, Miles Davis, Irish Trad, Harry Potter Soundtracks.
While singing in the car: Beyoncé, Macklemore, OneRepublic…and a lot of one-hit wonders.
THOUGHTS OF REFLECTIONS:
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more… faculty members who look like the populations that they serve, and public funding so that business schools can be more innovative and accessible as they serve their research and educational missions.
In your opinion, companies, and organizations today need to do a better job at doing what?
Use their own data to inform workforce strategies, improve employee contributions, and build more inclusive organizations.
Faculty and administrators say:
“Beth Campbell once told me this about teaching: ‘I secretly love it, which becomes not-so-secret to my students over time.’
While teaching is time- and energy-consuming, Beth genuinely enjoys engaging with students and facilitating their development. She deeply cares about education and making a difference in students’ lives by helping them through challenging content, sparking their own curiosity, and encouraging their own self-development/investment in themselves.
From Day 1, Beth communicates with students from Day 1 that she has high expectations–of herself and of each of them. She lets them know that she is sincerely committed to helping them be as successful in the class as they want to be, acknowledging that goals vary between each student. She intentionally challenges them and encourages them to sharpen their own thinking.
In her classroom, no one is special but everyone is important. She strives to engage all students, using creative approaches including reflection exercises, varied formats of mini-presentation, posters on the wall + markers, reciprocity rings and more. She believes that if you listen for understanding and with curiosity, you can learn something from almost everyone you cross paths with. She fosters this type of broad engagement by building psychological safety and strives to create a virtuous cycle of connection/belongingness and better, more thoughtful discussions.
All of Beth’s classes root the students back to “why” it matters that they are studying a topic. She is famous for “Campbell Detours,” instructional tangents that follow good questions and take the discussion deeper and more tangible or applicable ways to what her students care about.
She uses data and research to show how evidence can inform practice and bringing/translating social science into the classroom. She uses evidence to demystify things that are highly relevant to the workplace but harder to quantify, such as how to build influence, develop oneself/one’s career, and lead others at work.” – Connie Wanberg, Professor and Industrial Relations Faculty Excellence Chair; Chair, Department of Work and Organizations
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