Management Welcomes Entrepreneurship into the Fold

IN FEBRUARY 2020, the Department of Management at the Haslam College of Business became the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship. The name change, department head and King and Judy Rogers Professor in Business Anne Smith, says, was about creating an identity for entrepreneurship in the department. 

“Over the past several years, we’ve brought in the talent and intellectual capital to do that successfully,” says Smith, who cites faculty members Melissa Cardon, David Gras, Tim Pollock, Jessica Jones, and David Williams as prominent entrepreneurship scholars. 

Student interest in entrepreneurship is on the rise. Many of the department’s doctoral students choose entrepreneurial topics for their dissertations, and the university-level minor in entrepreneurship has proven popular. Smith and other faculty noticed this trend and investigated the national movement to embrace entrepreneurship as an academic field. “We spoke to department heads at other universities and leaders at companies that would be hiring some of our graduates,” she says. “We came away from those conversations excited about the possibility of a shift toward entrepreneurship in our program.” 

A change in curriculum goes hand in hand with the renaming, starting with the undergraduate degree program. While courses in entrepreneurship have been part of the department’s offerings for some time, they will now become integral to the major, which includes three possible tracks: leadership and organizational effectiveness; entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises; and workforce analytics. “We’ve never had a career narrative for our undergraduates, and each of these possibilities prepares students for positions to launch and grow their careers,” Smith says. The department also is exploring several less-studied sectors, such as medium-size private enterprises and family businesses. “Students who plan to work in a family business after graduation are interested in courses aimed at their concerns.”

Many entrepreneurship courses that were previously part of the collateral are now fused to the major, allowing students to choose another minor. “It’s a way for them to add an additional skillset,” David Williams, associate professor of management and William B. Stokely Faculty Research Fellow, says. “We think this will provide even better preparation for their careers.”

The changing of a department’s moniker denotes significance. “I think entrepreneurship has emerged as a unique strength over time,” says Williams. “This change reflects the competency we’ve developed and remains reflective of all the other wonderful things our department is doing.” 

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