IU shines in entrepreneurship

September 1, 2009
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Entrepreneurship has become one of the hottest areas of academic research in business schools. And, by at least one measure, Indiana University churns out the papers as well as any institution in the world.

The university proudly issued a release today pointing out that four of its entrepreneurship profs were named to a list of the 100 most prolific researchers in the field.

The list resulted from, you guessed it, a study. Howard University looked into which researchers and institutions published the most papers in academic journals.

Actually, IU was the only institution with four profs in the top 50.

Don Kuratko, who chairs IU’s Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, notes that when he got into the field 28 years ago at Ball State University, only five universities in the world studied entrepreneurship. Now, 2,000 offer bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

Driving the explosive growth is recognition that ideas and innovation create wealth. Think back to the devastating recessions of the early 1980s, Kuratko says. Times were bleak. But a young dynamo named Bob Laikin was convinced “car phones” were the future. Today, Plainfield-based Brightpoint is the largest cell phone distributor in the world.

Now, governors, mayors, CEOs and seemingly everyone else wants to encourage the Laikins among them.

What could university research possibly contribute to the person with the concept and the dream? Quite a bit, Kuratko contends.

Dean Shepherd, the second-most prolific scholar on the list, has delved into the grief entrepreneurs feel after a business fails. By borrowing from psychology, he’s helping entrepreneurs process the death of a business and get back on their feet to try again. Remember that many of the most successful entrepreneurs blow it repeatedly before getting it right.

Jeff Covin is learning how big corporations can instill the spirit of entrepreneurship within their workers. A CEO can’t just dictate, “Everyone be innovative!” Rather, what works is training employees to think like entrepreneurs. Sometimes just a few days of intensive training can change minds and attitudes, Kuratko says. The upshot is workers who think of ways to improve existing companies and dream up spin-off ventures that benefit the mother ship.

“This kind of research of truly driving the body of knowledge, so we’re truly helping everybody in the field,” Kuratko says.

What do you think about the research university business schools are doing? Any thoughts in particular about IU’s entrepreneurship program?


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