Texas Tech University

Ron Mitchell

2009 Texas Tech Integrated Scholar

CPA; Professor of Entrepreneurship; Jean Austin Bagley Regents Chair in Management

Ron KendallI'm what you call a ‘pracademic.' I started out in practice as an accountant and then as a manager and then as a CEO of turn-around organizations. Then, I went back and studied the research craft, sort of how you get good at this stuff. Since then I've been studying the entrepreneur's expertise, what makes somebody really capable of being an entrepreneur, and I've been studying it cross-culturally.

What is your research objective/interest(s)?

I conduct research aimed at one high-level objective: “To liberate the captive.”

This statement requires just a bit of explanation. I believe that inherent value exists within human relationships, that some of that value is captive: imprisoned by barriers and obstacles (e.g., faulty assumptions, incomplete understanding, flawed social structure, etc.). I also believe that research to identify and understand the underlying systems that create and/or support these barriers and obstacles will assist in their removal thereby liberating all that was “captive” (value, underemployment in individuals, information barriers, etc.).

As a social scientist in a business school—who focuses research attention on individuals, organizations and society—the context within which I seek to “liberate the captive” is primarily socioeconomic. 

How do you feel your research impacts the globe?

My research impacts our world by increasing value creation and sustainability in socioeconomic relationships, without regard to nationalities or borders.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I receive my inspiration from faith. I have faith in God; and I have faith in my fellow beings. Candidly, my inspiration comes through revelation both Heavenly and earthly. I express my gratitude for each.

What type(s) of service projects do you enjoy doing?

As you might now expect, given my previous statements about research interests and impact, I enjoy service projects that remove obstacles from individuals, groups, organizations, institutions, and society in general. Following is an example of each type—but certainly the types of service that I enjoy is not limited to these specific activities.

Individuals: I enjoy sitting down with someone (a student, a community member, etc.) counseling together to clearly identify the value inherent in their relationships, helping to articulate the obstacles to the emergence of this value, and developing a plan of approach to help this value to emerge and be sustained over the long term.

Groups: I enjoy working with small groups (e.g., I am the Doctoral Advisor for the Area of Management) to help to bring about an atmosphere of enjoyment and productivity within that group; such that there will be fewer obstacles to the success of any group member, and more support for their success due to their membership in that group.

Organizations: I enjoy working with organizations, partly because an organization—like a person—has a “personality” that I can sense; and as a result I can see the needs, orchestrate common action, and assist that organization to minimize the impact of obstacles to its objectives, while maximizing its potential.  For example, I just finished an assignment for President Bailey, to Co-Chair the RCM Council to get the process properly underway at TTU.

Institutions: Because, in the scholarly world, we organize into “Academies” where professors from around the world participate, there is also an opportunity to serve in these institutions. I recently completed five years service in the leadership of the Entrepreneurship Division (about 2,500 members) of the Academy of Management (about 18,500 members). Here I tried to create and sustain new value by revising the Division Constitution to enable broader participation, and launching a Research Excellence Initiative (raised $400,000 for a 5-year recognition and skill-building system). Elements previously “captive” in this institution were liberated as a result.

Society: I enjoy at least thinking about serving society through my research.  Hopefully by creating a better understanding of the underlying systems that I research, identify and articulate, society will be better prepared to cope with many obstacles in socioeconomic value creation as they arise.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on an intensive set of projects, with a variety of colleagues. Some of the main ones include:

  • New book: In Search of Research Excellence, forthcoming March 2011.
  • Projects with Ph.D. students: Organizational free riding, with Jae Lee; Ethnic entrepreneurship, with Alejandra Marin and Jae Lee; Technology transfer, with Shawna Chen.
  • Projects with my two “professor sons”: Sources of value creation: Transaction systems theory, with Rob Mitchell and Ben Mitchell; Entrepreneurial scripts and entrepreneurial expertise: The information processing perspective, with Ben Mitchell and Rob Mitchell; Socially situated cognition: Imagining new opportunities for entrepreneurship research, with Brandon Randolph-Seng and Rob Mitchell.
  • Stakeholder equivalence theory: Aligning the Entity-Identity-Governance relationship to create and sustain value
  • The Entrepreneurship Research Domain: Increasing Returns and the Domain of Entrepreneurship Research; A Strategy for the Future of Entrepreneurship Research in a World of Increasing Returns

What advice do you have for new faculty members on balancing the components of an integrated scholar into their careers (academics, research and service)?

I would say this about research, teaching and service:

Integration is about finding common points of intersection where excellence in one area of a career can magnify or act as a catalyst for the other two. Interestingly, the catalyst—due to our training as holders of a Ph.D.—is research. Here's why:

  • Excellent research leads to interesting teaching;
  • Care about teaching these ideas leads to noticing and acting on opportunities for serving, where ideas can be put into practice;
  • Commitment to service engagement, in turn, provides new ideas for research, and examples and experiences to share with students through teaching.

Scholar Background

I was born and raised in the “North Plains” in Western Canada. Born in Lethbridge; and raised in Calgary and Red Deer. U.S. citizen since 1979.

Bachelor's degree, Commerce, University of Calgary, 1976

Ph.D., Business Administration, University of Utah, 1994


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