As an undergraduate, Dr. William "Bill" Gardner expected to put his business management degree to work in the family hardware business. Instead, it sparked an interest in research and a career in academia that has spanned more than 30 years.
Gardner, who completed both his Master of Business Administration (1980) and his Doctorate in Business Administration (1984) at the Florida State University College of Business, will be awarded the College's Distinguished Doctoral Alumni Award during a ceremony Friday at FSU.
"While I was growing up I had worked in the family business - Gardner Brothers, a wholesale hardware distributor in New Jersey - in a number of capacities, and most recently as a salesperson during summer breaks," Gardner said. "However, as I approached the completion of my undergraduate studies, I realized that a career in academia was very appealing to me. I enjoyed writing, and I found the process of research that I had experienced as part of a business research class to be intriguing."
Gardner - the Jerry S. Rawls Professor in Organizational Behavior and Leadership, director of the Institute for Leadership Studies and coordinator of the Area of Management at the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University - says that after sending out multiple applications to Ph.D. programs, he received a personal phone call from FSU Professor Paul Wilkins informing him he had been accepted to the doctoral program, and that he had received an assistantship.
"That was all I needed to hear, since FSU was my No. 1 choice!" Gardner said. "So, in the fall of 1978, I traveled to Tallahassee to enroll in the doctoral program in management, even though I had never visited either the city or FSU."
While preparing for his doctoral work, Gardner chose to take MBA courses. "One day when I went to check my mail, I found a form in my mailbox that indicated I had completed enough MBA coursework to earn an MBA," he said. "Basically, I was instructed to 'Sign here for an MBA!' "
During his first year in the doctoral program, he was assigned to work as a research assistant to Mark Martinko, Bank of America Professor of Business Administration. "Mark was an excellent mentor who taught me how to conduct research and gave me many opportunities to work on research projects that led to high-quality publications, including articles in the Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal and the Journal of Management," Gardner said.
Martinko, who now counts Gardner as both a colleague and a good friend, recalls a thorough student with an impeccable work ethic.
"Bill is as strong conceptually as he is empirically when it comes to data analysis," Martinko said. "He's one of the hardest-working people I've ever met. He'd always do his part and more - in teaching and in service. It's one reason he's been so successful as a teacher, researcher and administrator."
Gardner took a cue from the strong examples of leadership he experienced at FSU and put it into practice when he embarked on his own academic career.
"Dr. Gardner was very instrumental in my development as an academic," said Dr. Ceasar Douglas, associate professor of management in the FSU College of Business, who studied under Gardner while pursuing his doctorate at the University of Mississippi. "Bill provided endless guidance and support during my time at Ole Miss, and he is now a friend and colleague I enjoy working with."
Gardner's current research focuses on authentic leadership and development, including the extent to which the emotional labor requirements of leadership are a threat to leader authenticity; the development of alternative/implicit measures of authenticity; and the extent to which violations of behavioral integrity undermine perceptions of leader authenticity. He has published numerous articles in such scholarly outlets as the Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, Leadership Quarterly, Journal of Management, and Journal of Organizational Behavior. He is a member of several editorial boards (Academy of Management Journal, Leadership Quarterly, Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies) and an SMA Fellow.
"The understanding of the discipline and research skills I acquired served me well in future academic appointments at Southern Illinois University, the University of Mississippi, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Texas Tech University," Gardner said. "It's very clear that FSU has provided me with an excellent springboard for my academic career."
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