Meet the Professor of Good Ideas
Bobby Garrett PHD'08
Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Management, Oregon State University
“Everything I learned about business, I learned at Kelley.”
Entrepreneurship is all about the good idea: coming up with it, refining it, and finally turning it into a profitable business venture.
As an assistant professor of entrepreneurship and management at Oregon State University, Bobby Garrett studies these good ideas in the context of corporate entrepreneurship, specifically the creation of new business ventures within the context of a larger corporation. He knows a thing or two about a good idea himself—one of the best he ever had was to attend the Kelley School of Business for graduate school and become involved with the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (JCEI).
“Everything I learned about business, I learned at Kelley,” says Garrett. “The resources at JCEI and the enthusiasm shared are unmatched anywhere else in the country. If you have a good idea, they get behind you 100 percent. Even if you have a bad idea, they will help you turn it into a good idea.”
Garrett wasn’t supposed to become a business professor. After earning a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Mississippi, Garrett worked at ExxonMobil in Houston as a procurement associate responsible for buying chemicals and catalysts. His leadership ability shined through, however, and the company enrolled him in an executive MBA program at a nearby university. That’s where he discovered his passion for business education and research, which eventually led him to Kelley and JCEI to pursue his doctorate in strategic management and entrepreneurship.
“A friend told me of the great experience she had at the Kelley School as an undergrad, so I did some research into the graduate programs at IU,” recalls Garrett. “As I did, I realized that the Kelley School had exactly what I was looking for in terms of great research mentors, a supportive environment, and an exceptional national—even global—reputation. The icing on the cake, though, was Bloomington—I have a wife and three children, and the location was perfect for my family.”
At Kelley, Garrett took part in JCEI’s Corporate Venturing Research Team, a group of doctoral students interested in researching corporate entrepreneurship. It was here that he got to know JCEI’s Executive Director Donald F. Kuratko, a.k.a. “Dr. K,” a prominent scholar and national leader in the field of entrepreneurship. The team met weekly with Dr. Jeff Covin (another of the Kelley School faculty who is a national scholar in the field of corporate venturing) to discuss their projects, and was always joined by Dr. K, who took time from his schedule to offer helpful insights and suggest new areas of research.
This close working relationship with faculty is what Garrett most fondly remembers about Kelley. He says Professors Jeff Covin, Dean Shepherd, and Dr. K all were instrumental in helping him finish his dissertation and land a tenure-track faculty position at Oregon State. “They provided exceptional feedback regarding the model of corporate venturing I was proposing, offered tremendous help in writing the survey that corporate executives would complete, and read through various versions of my dissertation providing guidance along the way until we all agreed on a final draft of the dissertation,” says Garrett. In addition, Garrett and Covin continue to collaborate on research, and Dr. K has authored a published paper with Covin and Garrett with another manuscript out for review at a journal.
This is a trend Garrett aims to keep going. When asked about his plans as a new professor, Garrett laughs and says, “Publish, publish, publish until I make tenure; then publish some more!” Now there’s a good idea.