Melissa Cardon

The Art of Entrepreneurship

MELISSA CARDON, Nestlé Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, grew up in a creative family. Her parents started their own consulting business when she was young, and her siblings’ businesses have ranged from selling hand bells to running a horse farm. Entrepreneurship has fascinated her from an early age.

“I want to understand the struggles the entire family goes through,” Cardon says. “I study a construct called passion that relates to the psychology of entrepreneurship. In research, we ask, ‘How does passion impact the ability to be successful?’”

While her earlier work focused on individual entrepreneurs, Cardon’s recent research seeks to understand how these forces work in teams of people. “For example, is it more problematic if we’re all passionate because we butt heads?” she asks.

“If one team member is visionary and others aren’t, it could lead to problems.”

After earning a doctorate in business from Columbia University, Cardon taught at Case Western Reserve University and then at Pace University in Pleasantville, New York. “Her research in the field of entrepreneurial emotion, cognition, and passion has appeared in major publications and marks her as a leader in the field,” says Roy Girasa, distinguished professor at Pace University and Cardon’s former colleague. “Her productivity is so profound that it strongly encourages her colleagues to emulate it.”

Cardon enjoys teaching human resource topics such as recruiting, selection, leadership, and negotiations. In the spring, she will teach a doctoral level course on the psychology of entrepreneurship. “The ability to work with a PhD program is one of the things that brought me to Haslam,” she says. “I really like mentoring others and helping them develop professionally.”

David Williams, Stokely Faculty Research Fellow and associate professor of entrepreneurship at Haslam, says it’s no surprise that Cardon is already mentoring several PhD students after being here for just a few months. “She enjoys giving back, and is a positive force in our department,” Williams says. “When she joined the Haslam faculty this year, the rest of the entrepreneurship field took notice. We are a destination for entrepreneurship students and research, and Cardon cements our thought leadership status in this area.”

In her spare time, Cardon enjoys traveling and hiking with her husband, Jim, and their two sons, Shamus and Dominick. She also loves creative arts such as quilting. “So much of our job is not tangible, and quilting is something where you can see visible results,” she says. “It’s a big stress relief and hobby when I have time.”

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