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From the Dean – Kogod Now
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Kogod Now / Fall 2014  / From the Dean
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From the Dean

Washington, DC, is a city of public intellectuals. Academic researchers, policymakers, business thought leaders, and nonprofit experts come together in the capital to discuss and debate change—and to act on it. Action is the ultimate culmination of this work: At the end of the day, academic discourse should result in changes to business practices.

As those who have endeavored to innovate know, change is disruptive by nature. Our global history is littered with stories of successes that were begot by disruption: mass production in manufacturing, and the jump from analog to digital. The academic discipline that perhaps knows this best is entrepreneurship, an area of study that naturally bridges the business silos. At Kogod, we are innovating in the entrepreneurship space through our Sustain- able Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative, created this year.

An expert in entrepreneurship, Professor Stevan Holmberg leads this initiative that features a campus- based incubator, the first of its kind at American University. It is a space where student teams evolve their products and services through the guidance of Holmberg, and colleagues Tommy White and Bill Bellows, executives-in-residence and entrepreneurs themselves. Early stage seed funding will enhance the experience and help move ventures closer to launch. The mentorship experience is available to all AU students, regardless of area of study.

This interdisciplinary necessity extends across other disciplines at the university. Changes to general accounting principles have drawn faculty in the accounting and finance departments, who are coming at it from different angles. This imminent issue will soon affect practitioners in both industry sectors. The looming change will fundamentally shift how firms must reflect their capital on their balance sheets and the way that financiers analyze that value. It is an under-examined but critical topic affecting businesses from coast to coast and potentially around the globe.

Faculty research impacts global business investments through the work of Associate Professor Jennifer Oetzel, who uses GIS mapping software to track multinational firms’ expansion in Chinese provinces following natural disasters. She found these epic and expensive risks are still not a deterrent to business’ interest in expansion in China’s massive economy.

Comparing and contrasting global business decisions is a concern of Associate Professor Parthiban David, a corporate governance scholar who studies cross-cultural management. David examines Japanese and American firms’ disparities in R&D financing following changes in quarter-to-quarter earnings. At the root of his findings is a difference in the corporations’ perceptions of how to manage stakeholder relationships.

Relationships also affect many business and consumer decisions. The unique culture in Cuba enticed Associate Professor Sonya Grier to study consumerism in an isolated country that has been largely unexposed to it. Eastern versus Western consumer relationships with brands are at the heart of Assistant Professor Nelson Amaral’s study of counterfeit goods.

Our faculty’s research is also affecting health care diagnostics, algorithmic calculations in stock trading, and consumer advertising claims while they are working with leaders at the University of Mary- land Medical System, the Federal Trade Commission, and the NASDAQ.

Business in the capital city extends beyond the workings of government to the variable and growing businesses that comprise metropolitan Washington, DC. It’s a young, thriving city, full of entrepreneurs and established firms from aerospace to biotech to hospitality.

Possibilities in DC exist face-to-face but are also multiplying through digital interactions on emerging platforms. This is where our industry, as education leaders, is increasingly focused. With support from faculty leaders at AU, and building on the success of our hybrid Professional MBA, we anticipate the launch of Kogod’s first online- only graduate degree as we celebrate our school’s 60th anniversary.
During those six decades, the Who, What, and Where of education has changed. But the Why remains. Business in the capital is as exhilarating as ever.

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