P&Q’s Favorite MBA Professors Of 2019

professor in classroom

Deans and administrators give plenty of lip service to the idea that business schools don’t exist in an academic silo. B-schools are meant to transcend economic or workforce issues into political and social issues. And that’s exactly what the research coming from our Favorite MBA Professors of 2019 is doing.

Earlier this week, we celebrated our 2019 MBA Professor of the Year, Lalin Anik from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. And while Anik’s work is impressive, we decided to acknowledge 10 other professors from leading global business schools that we covered this year.

This year’s selection of our favorite professors all share at least one commonality: they are impacting the world through their research and work. Whether it’s examining sexual harassment and abuse in organizations, fintech’s discrimination on housing loan applications, the impact of cryptocurrencies, or the burgeoning gig economy, the professors below are truly at the forefront of business education and research.

USC Marshall Professor Sarah S.M. Townsend

USC Marshall Professor Sarah S.M. Townsend

Sarah Townsend, USC Marshall

At Poets&Quants we believe in the power of higher education. We believe in higher education’s role in giving people more opportunities in their life than what they would have without a college or graduate degree. Sarah Townsend, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business has dedicated her recent research and publications to explore how colleges and universities can adjust their cultures to help first-generation students thrive.

Many studies show the challenges first-generation college students face. But much of that stems from the culture-shock that comes with integrating into communities that are increasingly built to match the cultures of elite and upper-class families. That “cultural mismatch” was the subject of three of Townsend’s most recent papers when we featured her in our Professors of the Week series last December (2019).

“The culture of American higher education, especially at elite colleges and universities, reflects and promotes assumptions about what it means to be ‘smart,’ ‘educated,’ and ‘successful,’” Townsend and her co-authors write. These assumptions, they argue, are “powerfully shaped by White, middle- to upper-class beliefs, norms, and values…As a result, students of color and those from low-income or working-class backgrounds often feel excluded in these educational settings, which can lead them to question whether they fit or belong in college.”

We appreciate Townsend’s commitment to uncovering these issues and providing solutions for institutions of higher education.

Karan Girotra, Cornell Johnson

Last year — and the last decade — saw a massive rise in the gig economy, ride-sharing, and transportation innovation. Whether it’s cars, scooters, or bikes, transportation companies disguised as tech companies changed the way people — especially in urban areas — decided to travel in the 2010s. Not surprisingly, researchers at many business schools tracked the innovations of those companies. But with the innovations also came problems.

Karan Girotra, a professor at Cornell University’s SC Johnson School of Business has been researching how to solve two major issues within the bike-sharing growth. The first problem many bike-sharing companies and users have run into is the distance between bike-sharing stations. Bike-sharing is only useful to users if they have close proximity to stations where bikes are docked. The second problem is keeping busy bike stations full of bikes while less popular ones can accumulate too many bikes.

So Girotra and his co-authors of a recent paper spent four months observing 946 bike stations in central Paris. Overall, they collected data on 17,000 bicycles making more than 4.35 million trips. Then they matched their findings with broader demographic and urban density data from the French government. They found that “a user’s likelihood of using bike-share decreases with the distances they must walk.” How far? Users were willing to walk up to about 1,000 feet or roughly four city blocks. After 300 meters, the researchers found, potential users are “almost 60% less likely to use a station than one that originates close to the station.”

We applaud Girotra and other B-school professors keeping up with innovations and researching and providing solutions for the world’s game-changing companies.

Ann E. Tenbrunsel

Ann E. Tenbrunsel of the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame

Ann Tenbrunsel, Notre Dame Mendoza

While the year and decade saw many tech and business innovations, it also saw many social movements crop up. One of those was the #MeToo movement — an organized resistance and movement against sexual harassment and assault. Unfortunately, sexual harassment and assault are prevalent in virtually every facet of human life from religious institutions to media to higher education and college athletics. It’s also been a reality of corporate life for a long time.

Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business professor Ann Tenbrunsel has committed recent research and publishing to not only understanding sexual harassment but takes it a step further in a recent paper and proposes ways organizations can combat the prevalent issue. The paper, titled “Sexual Harassment in Academia: Ethical Climates and Bounded Ethicality,” appeared earlier this year in the Annual Review of Psychology.

Sexual harassment, Tenbrunsel and her co-authors note, does not take place in a vacuum. Leadership matters, as does the culture of organizations. “Leaders serve as role models for others in the organization,” they write. “The ethical and unethical behavior of a leader can have a trickle-down effect, influencing more than just the subordinates who report to the leader.”

Tenbrunsel’s focus areas are in ethics, ethical decision making, gender, and sexual harassment. She’s bee a professor at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College since 1995 and we applaud her commitment to combatting organizational sexual harassment.

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