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Evening MBA Core Faculty

Learn more about the faculty who teach the Evening MBA core courses. They’ve shared with us what they like about teaching core courses, described the culture at Foster and provided details about their current research. Click on each name to find out more. Learn more about all faculty at the Foster School via the faculty directory.

Teaches: Marketing Management

Why is the MBA core course you teach an important part of the knowledge base for an MBA student?
Marketing is a strategic and systematic way of thinking about the source of profitability and sustainability of your business. That source is the customer. Marketing offers a discipline of thought to systematically think and shape your business around your customer. This is not only a great business skill but also a great life skill. I teach the MBA core marketing course with a focus on the strategic thinking around marketing decisions: who is your best customer? Why would they buy or use your product? I take a behavioral approach to marketing strategy honing in on the behavior that a marketer desires from the customer and that might benefit both the marketer and the customer. My course focuses on internalizing such a behavioral focus as a mindset and learning the tools and skills to apply this mindset to your business decision-making. Such an approach to marketing is valuable to an MBA student not only as part of their development as a manager but also in making career decisions and development (e.g., job searches).

What do you find rewarding about teaching an MBA core course?
I learn a lot from my students! This happens by way of examples, experiences, and perspectives students bring to the class discussions. Our students come from culturally varied backgrounds and different industries, and work on very different marketing problems. I particularly enjoy the conversations surrounding student’s applications of the marketing principles they are learning in class to their industry or company situation. This illuminates the generality or limitation of the principles and in turn informs my research!

What is the focus of your current research?
Would you like to be healthy? Who wouldn’t? Yet, each of us is constantly making decisions to undermine our desire to be healthy (e.g., choosing the couch or chair instead of the running trail, decadent dessert over apples for dessert?) It intrigues me: why don’t we do what will really help us get what we want? What are the various reasons we are not living a healthy lifestyle? One reason is that it seems that healthy options are frequently not as tempting or not as accessible. Can we make health attractive? Are there business models that make it viable for companies to make healthy options easily accessible and attractively positioned?

I am interested in the intersection of how companies can be successful while truly benefiting consumers and/or solving challenging social problems (e.g., health, poverty). For example, my research on health examines how the consumer evaluates the risks and benefits of risky behaviors. How can we encourage people to have safe sex? Or eat more vegetables? Whether and how can a company be successful selling healthy vegetables as ‘junk’ food? I am also very interested in the intersection between health risk perceptions, marketing communications, and regulation. What are the business models that will allow businesses to get into more socially reformative markets?

How have you used your research in the business world?
I have shared my insights on health risk assessments and encouraging healthy behavior with a lot different companies to help them figure out how to design programs that are healthy and attractive.

Learn more about Prof. Nidhi Agrawal.

Teaches: Leading Teams & Organizations (MGMT 500)

Why is the MBA core course you teach an important part of the knowledge base for an MBA student?
No matter what the career field, at some point in the careers of our alumni they will have management and leadership roles. The management and leadership course focuses on how these roles can be filled in an effective manner. Moreover, rather than simply drawing from the opinions of a few people, this course delves into the science, which has empirically investigated management and leadership across a broad variety of settings. By learning from the science, our students can use cutting edge knowledge to maximize the performance of their work units and the well-being of their employees.

What is the focus of your current research?
My primary area of interest is human sustainability, with a focus on issues surrounding sleep. Ambitious managers often forget the importance of sleep to basic human functioning, let alone employee performance and well-being. My research investigates how a lack of sleep and poor sleep quality have a litany of negative effects on employee performance and well-being. For example, some of my latest research links poor sleep quality of managers to their (verbally) abusive supervision of subordinates. I’m also beginning to examine how managers negatively influence the sleep of subordinates, and the ways in which that circles back to work outcomes.

How would you describe the culture at the Foster School?
The Foster School has a very collaborative culture. This is clear both in the way in which we structure teams, but also in how our faculty frequently collaborate with each other in research pursuits. Embedded in our culture is also a clear appreciation for cutting edge science, as well as a drive to find ways to help students apply that cutting edge science.

What would you like students to know about your MBA core course or approach to teaching?
There are two statements that I repeatedly say in class that reflect my approach to teaching:

  1. What do the data say?
    This is my method of drawing from the scientific literature to address various questions relevant to management and leadership. Rather than relying on any one person’s opinion, I believe systematic empirical investigation is the best source of knowledge.
  2. Every solution creates its own problems.
    Management and leadership are complex topics. There are no magic bullets. Every potential solution has one or more downsides. Rather than applying a solution and assuming the problem is fixed, we need to be able to choose the least problematic set of problems (and then deal with those).

Learn more about Prof. Christopher Barnes.

Teaches: Ethical Leadership (MGMT 504)

Why is the MBA core course you teach an important part of the knowledge base for an MBA student?
Ethics is an inevitable part of business. We all have a sense of ethics that we strive to live by, but sometimes we act in ways that contradict our ethics without even realizing it. Fortunately, there is a growing body of knowledge that identifies what we can do to help align our behavior with our ethical principles. In this class, we will work to develop these skills, enabling you to become a more effective and trusted leader.

What do you find rewarding about teaching an MBA core course?
I enjoy watching students’ development over the course of the quarter. By the end, it’s gratifying to witness the maturation of their ability to manage tough ethical issues.

What is the focus of your current research?
Most of my research focuses on when people act prosocially vs. antisocially at work. I take a lot of different angles on this question. For instance, in one project I am examining the types of organizational systems that enable employees to feel and express gratitude. In another project, I am examining how air pollution in China’s largest cities affects employees’ daily tendencies to help vs. harm each other. A lot of my work also looks at prosocial vs. antisocial behavior following interpersonal conflict, such as the impact of apologies on reconciliation.

How have you used your research in the business world?
Right now I’m doing a lot of work with the UW hospital system. Conflict among doctors and nurses is a pervasive problem in hospitals throughout the country. Unfortunately, this conflict has serious implications for the quality of patient care. My colleagues and I are trying to address this problem by developing effective and scalable conflict management interventions.

Learn more about Prof. Ryan Fehr.

Teaches: Leadership Development

Why is the MBA core course you teach an important part of the knowledge base for an MBA student?
The LEAD class is specifically designed to help students assimilate their MBA experience through the lens of leadership development. In LEAD, we give students the tools and framework necessary to build teamwork and leadership skills that they will use throughout their MBA experience. Whether it be how students approach their study teams, how they choose their classes, or how they build community in and outside of the classroom, our hope is that Foster students are drawing from a foundation of teamwork and leadership skills established during the LEAD sessions. Moreover, the LEAD sessions are when students decide what type of learning community they want to be. LEAD is centered on the idea that each Foster MBA student’s responsibility is to develop their own potential and the potential of their fellow classmates.

What do you find rewarding about teaching an MBA core course?
I love Foster MBA students! In the aggregate, they are entrepreneurial, giving, responsible, intelligent, and motivated. One of the coolest things about LEAD is being able to witness the community being constructed from the ground up. I’m always awestruck to see the lengths the students will go to support each other and help each other learn.

What is the focus of your current research?
While my focus is generally on teaching, I also do research on emotions at work, power and politics, and leadership development.

How have you used your research in the business world?
In addition to teaching, I am also an executive coach; I work with C level executives to develop their leadership potential. Working with these accomplished leaders helps to remind me that leadership development is a continuous process. In addition, working with my clients, their colleagues, and their organizations has helped me experience how theory is implemented in dynamic, complex social situations, and having C-level executives and HR directors seek out and value my advice and input has helped me highlight how our academic work has practical, far reaching implications.

Learn more about Prof. Christina Fong.

Teaches: Accounting

Why is the MBA core course you teach an important part of the knowledge base for an MBA student?
Accounting is the “language of business.” In this course, we will discuss the basics of preparing financial statements, employ a variety of tools to break down financial reports into meaningful units for analysis and utilize real-world financial statement data to understand more about the economics of a company. The practice of accounting goes back thousands of years and affects individuals, not-for-profit organizations, large for-profit corporations, government entities, non-professional and professional sports teams, and many other entities. Understanding how to create and use accounting information is therefore critical to your future success as a strategic thinker and leader in any organization.

What do you find rewarding about teaching an MBA core course?
I truly enjoy teaching evening MBA students. I like that most of the evening MBA students are always eager to learn, extremely active in case discussions and willing to put hard work into their education. I also find it rewarding when I hear from my students about how they are able to apply what they learned in my class at work and in personal investing.

What’s distinctive about the MBA students at the Foster School? What adjectives would you use to describe them?
Hardworking, smart, talented, funny and friendly.

What is the focus of your current research? What are the key issues and questions that interest you?
At a broad level, my research is focused on earnings quality–how well-reported earnings provide information about an enterprise’s financial performance in the context of a specific decision. My research interests lie in the areas related to the determinants of earnings quality (i.e., internal control over financial reporting) and the consequences of earnings quality (e.g., stock market reactions). In particular, I have recently been working on projects regarding the impact of the “human” element on financial reporting outcomes. For example, do individual manager styles matter in financial reporting decisions? How do managers’ incentives influence financial reporting? How do investors evaluate the trustworthiness of managers?

How have you used your research in the business world? How has it informed your teaching?
For example, I have a research paper in which my co-authors and I develop a model to predict accounting misstatements. The output of this analysis is a scaled probability (F-Score) that can be used as a red flag of the likelihood of accounting misstatement. This paper was featured in Forbes, Center for Audit Quality Alert, The CPA Journal, Journal of Accountancy News Digest, CFO.com, White Collar Crime Fighter, etc. The F-Score is currently used by regulators and practitioners (e.g., D&O Insurers), and incorporated into analyst reports (e.g., Short Ideas). I think that my research is very relevant to my course, so in class I always talk about my research findings and how they relate to the cases or topics of the course.

How would you describe the culture at the Foster School?
The Foster School provides a collegial and open environment that facilitates the creation of knowledge (research) and the dissemination of knowledge (teaching). In this culture, students are encouraged to work collaboratively and professors are always happy to talk with and help students. Together, the faculty and student body of the Foster School make it an exciting, vibrant place to work and study.

Is there anything else you’d like students to know about your MBA core course or approach to teaching?
I use cases extensively in my course because cases present information in a format encountered in the “real” world. Cases provide the opportunity for students to study management’s actual strategic thinking for each of the featured companies. I design each session to be an active learning experience, which students gain the most from when they are prepared and excited to participate.

Learn more about Prof. Weili Ge.

Teaches: Managerial Accounting (ACCTG 501)

Why is the MBA core course you teach an important part of the knowledge base for an MBA student?
My managerial accounting course focuses on information and decision-making within an organization. Because most, or all, evening MBA students will become managers at some point during their careers, having the tools to not only make good decisions, but also to assess whether incentive, control, and cost systems are appropriately designed will be immensely valuable.

What do you find rewarding about teaching an MBA core course?
I thoroughly enjoy teaching evening MBA students for several reasons. First, they make class time both enjoyable and effective by being well prepared and active in class discussions, often sharing their own experiences. Second, I find it exceptionally rewarding when the content we cover is immediately applicable to students in their current positions. Finally, I find it rewarding to catch up with my students after they graduate and hear how they’ve applied what they learned in managerial accounting to new professional challenges.

What is the focus of your current research?
Broadly, my research focuses on incentives – how do we get people to do what we want them to do? More specifically, I study the structures of compensation contracts in publicly traded firms, and how those contracts affect executive and firm performance.

How have you used your research in the business world?
One of the research projects I am most excited about investigates how firms adjust earnings numbers when they use earnings for compensation. This research lines up with both what we talk about in class (how to choose performance measures) and with some of the rhetoric surrounding executive compensation in the media (e.g., the article “Some Companies Alter the Bonus Playbook” published in the Wall Street Journal in February of 2014).

Learn more about Prof. Paige Patrick.

Teaches: Intro to Business Economics (BECON 500)

Why is the MBA core course you teach an important part of the knowledge base for an MBA student?
Microeconomics is the theoretical basis for all business education. The focus on marginal analysis is the key to accomplishing goals, and the clearest statement of the equimarginal optimization principle occurs in the microeconomics class. Furthermore, the focus on market equilibrium, and how that helps you forecast and avoid errors is fundamental to any business education. When this class works, it is truly a life-changing class.

What do you find rewarding about teaching an MBA core course?
I find it rewarding to influence how many bright young minds will think. Our students are future leaders of the business community, and helping them to sort out the frameworks they will use to make decisions for the rest of their careers is exciting. There is nothing better in teaching than conveying information about life-changing principles to students who are destined to be future leaders.

What’s distinctive about the MBA students at the Foster School?
Our students are much more cooperative than those in typical MBA programs. There is less of a cutthroat mentality. Additionally, our students are more interested in doing something for the general human population that makes them proud of their accomplishment. There is very little of the “making the most money I can” or “I want to be a millionaire by 40” view.

What is the focus of your current research?
I am interested in a wide variety of issues in corporate finance and economics, and I am engaged in several very different projects. I have just completed a draft of a paper (with coauthors) about why target CEOs in mergers sometimes get bonuses when the mergers are completed. We find that rather than being a shareholder ripoff, as others have suggested, these may instead be efficient ways of aiding value creation for shareholders. Another paper applies price discrimination concepts (which I teach in the core) to the pricing of stocks, which attempts to help us understand how stock price changes should be interpreted. I am also working on the connection of unionization to municipality borrowing and interest rates paid.

How have you used your research in the business world?
I have done consulting for Costco, Amgen and others, typically using my research on corporate control and governance (such as the merger bonus paper mentioned above) to address questions in legal cases. I have also done research in measuring financial portfolio performance, and have used that research to advise investors on the use of money managers. Research, in general, forces you to achieve a deeper understanding of the issues you are addressing. I am therefore able to teach all material in a clearer way. I explicitly use some of my papers as reading when I teach my corporate finance elective.

What would you like students to know about your approach to teaching?
You should come to this program, and my class in particular, ready to work. While I try to make my class fun, you should not lose sight of the ultimate goal of learning. The pursuit of this goal is a serious endeavor. If you are not prepared for a serious endeavor, and think this is a place to have fun for a few years and get your ticket-to-the-top punched, you should not take this class.

Learn more about Prof. Edward Rice.

Teaches: Business Strategy

Why is the MBA core course you teach an important part of the knowledge base for an MBA student?
I strive to help students develop their analytical and diagnostic skills. Building mastery of several analytical and diagnostic tools, a “strategic toolbox” so to speak, increases the efficacy of strategic decision making—a high priority for all firms as highlighted by Netflix’s specific call for this skill.

What do you find rewarding about teaching an MBA core course?
I love watching the connections grow between content in my course, other courses, and the students’ experiences. Seeing their strategic understanding of why some firms win while others fail is very enjoyable.

What is the focus of your current research
I have several active research fronts. These include:

  • Resource-based logic – emphasizing resource orchestration
  • Governance – Boards of Directors / Family Business
  • Strategic Entrepreneurship

Learn more about Prof. David Sirmon.

Teaches: Quantitative Methods

Why is the MBA core course you teach an important part of the knowledge base for an MBA student?
Most, perhaps all, organizations that students in the MBA Program will work in collect and analyze data to improve organizational decision-making.

What do you find rewarding about teaching an MBA core course?
Helping students learn about fundamental tools they can apply in other courses, work experiences, and their personal lives.

What’s distinctive about the MBA students at the Foster School? What adjectives would you use to describe them?
Skilled, motivated and challenging.

How would you describe the culture at the Foster School?
Collaborative, respectful and supportive.

How do you integrate your curriculum across various disciplines?
We use examples from a variety of disciplines and I try to link various topics in the statistics course to other courses in the core, as well as elective courses.

Is there anything else you’d like students to know about your MBA core course or approach to teaching?
I believe students truly understand ideas when they can apply ideas in different ways, in different situations and subject to different constraints or pressures.

Learn more about Prof. Erich Studer-Ellis.

Teaches: Business Finance (FIN 502)

Why is the MBA core course you teach an important part of the knowledge base for an MBA student?
Valuing assets and decisions is important for all managers. Business Finance teaches the fundamental tools of valuation and decision making: Should we undertake a particular project or investment? What is an asset or opportunity worth? How do we assess risk and return? At the end of the class, students have a structure for thinking about potential projects and investments and the ability to analyze opportunities in a systematic way.

What is the focus of your current research? What are the key issues and questions that interest you?
My current research focuses on contracts and liquidity, particularly in settings like private equity and venture capital funds. If investments cannot be traded and there is no clear price, investors will require a return premium to compensate them for the additional risk and uncertainty; how much do they require, and how much should they require? Contracts and payment schemes provide incentives to fund managers; how do different contract forms generate incentives and how do those forms affect performance?

Is there anything else you’d like students to know about your MBA core course or approach to teaching?
This course uses a combination of lectures and case studies. The lecture is intended to provide students with rigorous analytical tools; the cases are an opportunity to use those tools in practical settings. I believe that `learning’ and `doing’ must be integrated. It is the fact that students must create solutions–rather than simply hearing and repeating what others have done–that provides the crucial link between theory and action. In combination, the lectures and cases are intended to turn students from consumers of information to producers of rigorous analysis.

Learn more about Prof. Mark Westerfield.