Karen Winterich is one of the few people who is excited when a natural disaster occurs. When hurricane winds blow, fault lines shift, and floodwaters rise to wreak havoc on local residents, it’s the perfect opportunity for her to track data for one of her main research interests: philanthropic giving. In the face of human tragedy, what motivates people to give? Are there differences in how men and women perceive and respond to need? Bottom line: what can nonprofits do to increase giving?

Karen Winterich

Winterich, an assistant professor of marketing, was on the phone with other research collaborators Vikas Mittal of Rice University and Karl Aquino of University of British Columbia, as soon as news of the January earthquake in Haiti hit the airwaves, making plans for studies to conduct. Now, a few months later, Winterich is beginning to examine the data. Her findings delve deeper into her earlier work, which indicates there is a great divide in the ways that men and women give philanthropically.

Winterich surveyed a national panel of adults about their attitudes and actions relating to the Haiti relief effort. She asked panel members: how beneficial is a charity to society? How beneficial is it to society for people to give specifically to Haiti relief? Additional questions gauged a variety of factors, including respondent’s levels of internal and symbolic moral identity, to determine which factors influenced respondents’ giving levels.

Winterich found that regardless of symbolic moral identity, women tended to perceive there was a greater societal benefit from giving to Haiti than did men.

  • Internal moral identity: how important it is to you to BE fair, kind, and generous
  • Symbolic moral identity: how important it is to you to EXPRESS your fairness, kindness, and generosity to others ((Aquino and Reed, 2002))

Men tended only to perceive donations to Haiti were beneficial when respondents were characterized by high levels of symbolic moral identity.

This perception was consistent with participants’ likelihood to give: regardless of symbolic moral identity, women were more likely to give to the Haiti relief effort, while men were more likely to give only when their level of symbolic moral identity was higher.

To put it another way: women, whether they cared if others saw them as compassionate, generous, or pro-social, were more likely to agree that giving to the Haiti relief effort was a beneficial thing to do—and were more likely to do it. Men were much more likely to feel that it was a beneficial act to society, and to give, only if they were interested in others’ good opinion.

This is significant, as it corresponds with other research, which indicates that men are more likely to donate when the act is seen as “heroic” ((Eagly and Crowley, 1986)). Though this study did not specifically examine the importance of recognition, Winterich says recognition may motivate giving among men more so than among women. What does this mean for nonprofit organizations?

Winterich found that regardless of symbolic moral identity, women tended to perceive there was a greater societal benefit from giving to Haiti than did men.
Winterich found that regardless of symbolic moral identity, women tended to perceive there was a greater societal benefit from giving to Haiti than did men.

Recognition is key, says Winterich. NPOs must inform people before they give that they will be recognized for their contribution, as those with high internal moral identity will give regardless of recognition, but people with high symbolic moral identity are more likely to give if the act is observed by others. Winterich has several studies which support this role of recognition in motivating donations and volunteering among those who otherwise may not be motivated to give.

“There are people who are not internally motivated to give. They have a lower internal moral identity. It’s just not part of their private self to be motivated pro-socially,” says Winterich, who is quick to point out that these people may still give generously to charities, but simply have a different motivation.

“It really benefits nonprofit organizations to offer that public recognition,” as they are going to then capture both the high internal and high symbolic moral identity givers, as well as men (potentially) in increasing quantities.

Recognition doesn’t have to be large but it must be advertised on the front end to be effective—otherwise those that are interested in giving for the sake of recognition won’t be as likely to give.

“If NPOs think they’re recognizing donors, but are only doing so after the fact then they’re missing out on a potential donor segment that needs to know about the recognition in order to motivate the donation,” says Winterich.

This research is included in a working paper, coauthored by Winterich, Karl Aquino, and Vikas Mittal.

Categories: Research Notes

As we approach the end of the spring semester, thoughts turn to our students and their plans for the summer. Gone are the days when students were facing two choices: taking a break to recharge their batteries or taking some additional coursework to continue their path to graduation. Now, summer is an ideal time for students to participate in or create their own unique learning experiences, many of which occur across the globe. Here are some examples of how Mays students spend their summer “vacations”:

  • Internships: Internships (whether compensated or not) provide students with an ideal opportunity to apply the lessons learned in the Wehner Building and Cox Hall in their chosen professions. When they return to campus, they have a new perspective that enriches their classroom experience during the remainder of their studies. Like Heather Henry ’11, a business honors student who recently completed a five-month internship at Disney World.
  • Study Abroad: Traditional, semester-long study abroad programs have been expanded to include shorter immersions and more self-directed experiences. As Thomas Friedman correctly notes, the world is flat, and our students are benefiting from that. They are taking advantage of relationships and funding provided by our donors and Center for International Business Studies to embark on life-changing experiences. Read the story of Matt Harris ’10, a finance student that interned in Bangalore last summer.
  • Service Opportunities: One of Texas A&M University’s core values is that of selfless service, and no group of students embraces this value more than Mays students. In recent years, our students have traveled to great lengths to contribute humanitarian aid, like Michael Kurt ’09, an accounting student that spent the summer of 2008 serving those in need in Central and South America.

These stories merely sample the hundreds I could tell about the amazing things our students do and the way they expand their education.

There are many reasons why the fall semester is exciting. A new group of freshmen arrive at our school, bringing energy and enthusiasm. New faculty members join our school and continue to build upon the excellence of our outstanding scholars and teachers. And our current students return to campus, with new perspectives and ideas, some of them changed forever by their summer “vacation.”

As always, I hope this issue of Mays Business Online finds you well. Please stop by for a visit if your travels bring you to Aggieland.

Categories: Deanspeak

In August 1993, I weighed approximately 175 pounds. In February 2010, I weighed in at 302 pounds. How did I gain 127 pounds over the course of 17 years? The culprit: Poor nutrition and eating habits that I developed in college. During college, I had a very active lifestyle due to involvement in the marching band and intramural sports, but after college, the active lifestyle was replaced with a focus on career advancement. However, my poor nutrition and eating habits continued, and it would catch up with me eventually.

In the past, I’ve tried radical diet plans, food portioning strategies, exercise equipment, and home workout video programs to lose weight. After a few weeks of good results, my interest and commitment level would disappear, and I would resort to my old habits. There was a point in the past where I had decided to be content with being overweight.

My wife forwarded me information on the 2010 MaretHouse Fitness Challenge Contest. I figured that I had nothing to lose, so I submitted my application. From my understanding, there were hundreds of applications, and the committee selected approximately 30 people for interviews. Out of this, six people would be selected; I was excited to find out that I was one of them.

During orientation, David Marethouse, owner of MaretHouse Fitness, taught us the basics of nutrition and weight loss. David has the ability to make complex health and fitness terminology easy to understand. More importantly, he is really good at explaining the reasoning behind certain healthy practices. I learned more about nutrition in those two-and-a-half hours than I had learned in my entire life.

When I weighed in on my final workout day, my unofficial numbers indicated that I had lost a total of 35 pounds, and my body-fat percentage had decreased by 8.2 percent.
When I weighed in on my final workout day, my unofficial numbers indicated that I had lost a total of 35 pounds, and my body-fat percentage had decreased by 8.2 percent.

All of the contestants participated in initial fitness and strength tests to determine our weight, body-fat percentage, blood pressure, cholesterol level, and current physical conditioning. After viewing the results, I was disappointed and ashamed that I was in such poor health and conditioning. But I told myself that it was good for me to know where I started and to use that as motivation to improve.

Before we hit the gym, David took us on a tour of a grocery store to teach us how to shop. We learned how to properly read food labels as to not be misled by fancy marketing and food product packaging. During the two-hour grocery store tour, I scribbled over six pages of notes. At that point, I realized that nutrition would be my biggest obstacle in this fitness challenge—more so than the workouts.

The 2010 MaretHouse Fitness Challenge began on Monday, February 8, 2010. For the next 12 weeks, each contestant trained five days a week at the Aggieland Fitness Dome with a MaretHouse personal trainer and would be required to keep a daily food journal. At the conclusion of each week, our primary statistics (weight, body-fat percentage, blood pressure) were measured, and the results were posted on the MaretHouse website for followers to track our progress. In addition, each contestant was required to write weekly about our experiences, successes, and challenges on our individual contestant websites. I spent the first several weeks adjusting to a new routine and balancing priorities as a result of the requirements of the fitness challenge.

By the end of the first week, my trainer had me doing circuit training, which is simply a group of exercises to be performed in a sequence, or round. After each round, you were permitted to rest and recover for one to three minutes before repeating the round of exercises. For example, my workout on Friday of the first week consisted of upper body and lower body circuits. The upper body circuit of exercises included pushups (15 reps), benchpresses (15 reps), rope waves (30 seconds), and seated rows (15 reps). The lower body circuit of exercises included leg presses (15 reps), sitting squats (15 reps), side leg lunches (15 reps), and stairs (three reps — up and down counts as one). Naturally, I was extremely sore and fatigued after workouts during the first couple of weeks. That, I had anticipated.

What I hadn’t anticipated was the amount of time I was going to spend planning each week. Each weekend, I had to plan out all of my meals for the week, go to the grocery store and shop accordingly, cook all of my meals over the weekend, and pre-portion them into food containers. In order to avoid unnecessary driving back and forth from my house, I had to develop a system to pre-pack the professional and workout clothes that I would need each day. There were some days where I would workout first and then go to work, and other days would be the opposite. Probably the biggest adjustment was saying goodbye to my night-owl tendencies to ensure adequate sleep.

Over time, I got stronger and in more shape, and the soreness and fatigue went away. To ensure that my body was still being challenged, my trainer would increase the amount of weights and resistance, increase the number of repetitions, and decrease the amount of rest time between each set.

An exciting highlight during the challenge was experiencing the first tangible results of my hard work. Before the challenge, my pants size was 52 x 30. Around week six, my body had changed so much that I could fit into a 44 x 32 pair of pants. It was mind boggling to people when I stood next to my old pair of pants. I also noticed improvements in how I felt, my energy levels, and my ability to think more clearly. Because I was seeing results, there was a natural temptation to slack off during workouts, but I kept my focus on doing the things that produced those results. Even though we were permitted one cheat day per week where we could eat anything that we wanted, I was so focused on achieving results that I didn’t feel the need to cheat when my cheat day came.

At some point during the final three weeks of the challenge, I noticed that my source of motivation had changed. In the beginning, my main motivation to get healthier and more fit was because my family members wanted me to. Now, my primary driving force to get healthier and more fit was because it was important to me. I started going to the gym during my free time to do extra workouts. I started pushing myself harder during scheduled training sessions. When I weighed in on my final workout day, my unofficial numbers indicated that I had lost a total of 35 pounds, and my body-fat percentage had decreased by 8.2 percent.

This experience has been a tremendous blessing in so many ways. Not only have I improved my health and fitness, but I have also made new friends. In addition, I’ve learned how to incorporate health and fitness into a busy lifestyle. I am now a more conscious and educated consumer who can make better food choices. So, if I go out to eat, I now know which food items would be better to eat. And, I’ve learned that comfort foods (like desserts) in moderation are fine as long as they don’t become a consistent part of my daily food intake. As I heard one of the MaretHouse trainers say, “You eat to live. You don’t live to eat!”

On Saturday, May 8, 2010, the winner of the 2010 MaretHouse Fitness Challenge Contest will be announced at our graduation ceremony. Regardless of Saturday’s results, I already feel like a winner. I sincerely hope that my story can encourage others to take an important step in improving their quality of life. Trust me…it’s worth it.

Categories: Perspectives

The enormity of the education gap became apparent to Spencer Patel ’11 when she found a textbook in the Jackson Elementary School library with phrases like “Scientists will understand more when man reaches the moon.”

Jackson is a rural town of about 4,000, 45 minutes north of Baton Rouge, where the main employers are a prison and a mental hospital. Jackson schools, as well as in other parts of the state, are understaffed, outdated, and ill equipped. In fact, 15 percent of children in Louisiana don’t make it past the 5th grade, says Patel, and only 62 percent graduate from high school ((Alliance For Education report: “Understanding High School Graduation Rates in Louisiana,” July 2009)). It’s a sad example of the educational inequity that is common in rural and low-income areas, where a student’s zip code can be the determinant in the education they receive and the success that they will experience in life.

College students in the Maximum Impact: Alternative Spring Break program spent a week this semester refurbishing an elementary school in Jackson, Louisiana.
College students in the Maximum Impact: Alternative Spring Break program spent a week this semester refurbishing an elementary school in Jackson, Louisiana.

To better understand the causes of the education gap and possible solutions, Patel traveled to Jackson with a team of 24 other college students working with Maximum Impact: Alternative Spring Break, a program hosted by Deloitte and Teach for America (TFA). The goal of TFA is to address educational inequalities in the U.S. by involving top college graduates from all disciplines in its cause, using the classroom as their training ground. TFA corps members commit to two years of teaching in a low-income school. This is the first year that the weeklong TFA program was offered. Of 500 applicants, Patel was one of 25 chosen for the pilot program, which gives prospective TFA participants a glimpse into what life as a corps member is like. Mays students Young Kim, Yana Chernyak, and Grace Davis also participated.

Patel’s team spent the week updating the Jackson Elementary library, including removal of outdated materials, creating a teacher resource center, and refurbishing a recreation room for kids as the school has no gym. They also repainted the library and halls, changing the paint color from brown (originally chosen to minimize the appearance of dirt) to bright, primarily colors, creating a more inviting learning environment.

One day of the trip was spent in classrooms, where Patel got a close-up view of the reality there. “Their schools are just so broken,” she said, recalling a third grader she worked with who could not read or write. “When these kids don’t feel that anyone cares for them, that’s when the problem is magnified….these kids all deserve so much.”

Only 15 percent of TFA applicants are accepted. Patel hopes she’s one of them next May after she graduates with her finance degree. With such a low acceptance rate, there is no guarantee. “If they would have me, I would love to do it,” she says. “Even if I don’t get into Teach for America, it’s definitely changed my outlook on education for the rest of my life.”

Post-Katrina clean up

Spring breaks don’t usually include learning how to weld or use table saws. Still, Ashley Libby’s trip to Louisiana included such experiences. “Now if I don’t get into law school, I know I can find a job in construction,” jokes the management major from Arlington, Texas. Libby ’12 traveled with the Greek Life Mission Trip program, which involved about 100 students from A&M sororities and fraternities. Though the devastating storms Katrina and Rita occurred in 2005, the recovery effort is still in progress in central Louisiana where the team traveled.

“Where we were, it was far enough from the coast that people’s houses weren’t flooded, it was mostly wind damage,” she explained. The students split up to complete a variety of projects, from drywalling to painting.

Dale, who is 87, had been waiting for four-and-a-half years for assistance after Hurricane Katrina damaged the roof of his mobile home. He had the skills and the materials to build a new roof, but due to a back injury, couldn’t do the job. When Libby and her teammates showed up, however, Dale was easily able to lead them in cutting steel and welding the pieces together to create a weather-tight shelter over his home.

“It’s pretty disheartening to think that there are people that are still waiting for help years later,” says Libby, who has previously traveled to New Orleans for hurricane relief service trips on three other occasions. “I learned that there’s never enough help…there are thousands of people out there that, like Dale, still need help.”

The trip reminded Libby to not take the good things in her life for granted. “This man didn’t have a roof over his house,” she said. Of her blessings, she says, “It’s all a gift to me,”—a gift she feels honor-bound to share.

Libby felt good about the service she provided to those in Louisiana. She noted that for every hour of volunteer work recorded, the state has $18.75 credited against their debt to the U.S. government. While their contribution is small compared to the size of the debt, she knows it’s important to do her part. “Volunteering helps the people of Louisiana with their physical needs and it helps the infrastructure of the government…People coming to help really does make a difference.”

Categories: Featured Stories, Students

Seventy percent of the U.S. economy is tied to retail, says Mark Dotzour, chief economist with the Texas Real Estate Center. Since the global economy depends on the U.S. economy, the whole world is depending on retailers having the right assortment and prices, Dotzour told a group of retailers on campus recently for the annual Center for Retailing Studies Sponsors Forum. Dotzour addressed the future of the U.S. economy as it pertains to retail to provide participants with a glimpse of what the recovery might look like. He was one of several presenters from Mays to address the group, which included top retail executives from the center’s sponsor companies.

Dotzour, economic weatherman

Dotzour prefaced his comments by saying that he’s probably not any more accurate than the weatherman. However, retailers should not dismiss his conclusions: “What you’re hearing in the media is pretty much all wrong,” he tells retailers. Consumer perception is so vital to the economic recovery, that the media doesn’t dare tell the whole truth. The U.S. economy is on the road to recovery, he says, but it’s a long road, and full of landmines. Dotzour compares the recovery process to driving a heavily armored bomb detonation vehicle: it will take care of the explosions, but it moves very slowly.

Mark Dotzour

Personal consumption expenditures in the U.S. had been on the rise for years until 2007, when people stopped buying so aggressively and began to pay down debt and save. Dotzour believes that businesses and individuals have now right-sized their budgets, but governments have not. He sees major hurdles ahead for local, state, and federal government agencies, which are now or will soon be scrambling to pay their bills due to bloated budgets.

Dotzour warned retailers not to expect the same levels of personal consumption that Americans practiced a few years ago, when net home equity extraction boosted retail sales. Today, Americans have less equity in their homes, and less flexibility for borrowing.

Dotzour compares the recovery process to driving a heavily armored bomb detonation vehicle: it will take care of the explosions, but it moves very slowly.

One promising trend he is seeing is an increase in temporary hiring. Many businesses that are rebounding need extra employees as they grow, but are uncertain about adding permanent employees lest the growth doesn’t continue. He predicts that in one year, many businesses frustrated with the limitations of temporary staff hires will begin hiring permanent replacements as the economy improves. “We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re getting close,” he says.

Yet there are landmines ahead. Higher income and capital gains taxes, health care costs and regulation changes, changes in banking regulation, constricting budgets of governments at all levels, and cap and trade policy impact on the cost of energy, will all play a major role in the recovery process. The uncertainty in the marketplace prevents consumers from spending as much and prevents businesses from pursuing opportunities for growth as aggressively as they might otherwise. The good news for retailers is that “Americans are tired of being scared,” says Dotzour, who believes that consumers are ready to begin spending again, despite uncertainty.

Retailers: A little bit green is good enough

As sustainability issues continue to be a major factor in retail, assistant professors of marketing Karen Winterich and Kelly Haws have conducted several studies that analyze green consumer mindsets and practices. They presented some of their own research as well as summed up others’ recent findings pertinent to their retail audience.

Kelly Haws

Ninety percent of Americans report that if the price was the same, they would purchase sustainable products, say Winterich and Haws. So, should retailers invest more in green products and sustainable processes? Yes, and no. Prior research ((Trudel and Cotte 2008)) shows while there is a huge impact on consumer opinion if a product or company isn’t considered green, a little bit green is good enough for most consumers. When it comes to pleasing the customer, retailers don’t have to remodel their stores or assortments completely—smaller actions may be as effective in capturing the green consumer, and far less costly.

Green consumers are hard to profile, says Haws. The stereotype is young, fairly affluent, well educated, and more liberal in their political views; however, green consumers cut across all demographics. They can’t be attributed to any gender, age, income, or political affiliation. The only defining characteristic is that they tend to be people that are more self-controlled in they way they use resources. These are the folks that reuse the Cool Whip container to store leftovers.

Ninety percent of Americans report that if the price was the same, they would purchase sustainable products.

Despite the stereotype of green consumers being wealthier, Haws says they are more price and value conscious. This leads to a conflict of values, as many green products are more expensive than their less-sustainable counterparts. Haws advised the retailers to consider: how can we make it easier for consumers to be green?

Karen Winterich

One way says Winterich would be adopting a uniform rating system for all products, similar to the proposed Walmart sustainability index. If consumers could more easily compare the greenness of two similar products, they might be more likely to purchase the one that is quantifiably better for the environment, even at a premium, researchers suggest.

An important takeaway from Winterich and Haws’ research is that the more green a consumer is, the less interested they are in green products that tout personal benefits instead of environmental benefits. For example, green dish soap with a label that reads “No harsh chemicals, better for the environment!” will be more attractive to green consumers than the same product with a label reading “No harsh chemicals, better for your skin!”

Hire smart

All hiring managers are looking for potential employees that will perform well in the company, but frequently they test for the wrong thing, said Wendy Boswell, associate professor of management at Mays and director of the Center for Human Resource Management. Here’s the one thing you should know when hiring: If you are concerned with performance, look for the smartest candidate. Research indicates that intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance.

Here’s the one thing you should know when hiring: If you are concerned with performance, look for the smartest candidate.

Boswell says that frequently interviewers screen more for team culture fit than other important characteristics. This may be a mistake, as fit is a predictor of retention, but not directly linked to performance.

Wendy Boswell

There are complications when it comes to screening for intelligence, however, Boswell notes, as African-Americans and Hispanics tend to score lower on cognitive ability tests than Asians and Caucasians for a variety of hard-to-define reasons. Due to this fact, employers are often concerned about the threat of being discriminatory when hiring based on intelligence test scores alone.

Other important traits to screen for are conscientiousness and integrity, which are both predictors of performance and related outcomes.

Less important characteristics are: applicant interests; years of job experience beyond five years (a candidate with 20-years job experience is no more likely to be successful as a candidate with five); years of education; and age.

Good hiring is vital to the success of an organization, as employee satisfaction is related to customer satisfaction, which is related to the bottom line. Boswell suggests that interviewers stick to the same questions with each candidate for a job, in a structured, pre-planned interview format, rather than a more free-flowing and conversational interview, to have the most effective hiring.

In addition to the theory presented to the retailers through the Sponsor Forum, participants were also exposed to a practical lesson from Robert Loeffler, former president of H-E-B. Loeffler was the recipient of the 2010 M.B. Zale Visionary Retailer award, and presented an address that explored his long career in business and retail.

Categories: Centers, Featured Stories

A team of employees, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and quirks, doesn’t fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, says Robert (Bob) Loeffler ’77. It’s the job of a leader to hold the team together, like glue, when the pieces don’t precisely fit.

“It doesn’t take brilliance to be successful,” H-E-B’s Bob Loeffler ’77 told Mays students while delivering the 2010 M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture. “It takes diligence.” (view more photos)

After 40 years in business, the last seven spent in the president’s chair of Texas grocery chain H-E-B, Loeffler knows a few things about the characteristics and duties of leaders. What he’s learned, he’s gained by experience: when he was earning his MBA at A&M in the 70s, he says he learned much about finance, accounting, human resources, and marketing, but little about the vital skill of leadership. He did take courses on management, but he is adamant that management shouldn’t be confused with leadership. There’s a huge difference between the two, he says—and both are necessary for a business to succeed.

“There are many failed companies who have had outstanding management with CEOs who couldn’t lead their way out of a wet paper bag,” he said. “In the long run, successful organizations have to have better leaders.”

“Captain Crunch’

Loeffler’s leadership training began when he was young. He served in the Navy for six years, and at 22-years-old, had 40 men under his command. “The armed forces is a great place to learn leadership.” He recalled an incident when he was serving on a destroyer where the C.O. earned the moniker “Captain Crunch” when he accidentally ran the ship into a dock while trying to maneuver through high wind and waves.

“To his credit, the captain held a meeting in the wardroom, flopped his big and costly mistake on the wardroom table, and we discussed the issue in detail until we all understood what actions would be necessary to avoid this accident in the future—and we all became better sailors as a result…That’s good leadership.”

“A mistake is too precious a thing to waste,” he says. Leaders must create a culture where people are comfortable admitting mistakes rather than hiding them, fearing punishment. Mistakes can be very valuable to the individual and the organization if they are made public, dissected, understood, and if changes are made to prevent that mistake from happening again.

Trust is a necessary component of leadership. Therefore, leaders must be trustworthy. “People will only be led by someone they believe is on their side, who has their best interests at heart, and who is a person of credibility,” says Loeffler. A leader must cultivate a culture of trust and support that starts with their own actions. There is no down time for a leader, he asserts. A leader is always on stage and is constantly being evaluated by his or her team, who will decide day by day whether or not the leader is worthy of being followed.

Vision: HATE the status quo

The leader’s job is not always to create a vision, but rather to sell the vision to everyone involved with the company—the board, the executives, and every member of the team on down the line. “The challenge is to paint the vision in such an attractive way that everyone who hears it concludes this vision is one worth pursuing,” he says. Part of that process is making sure everyone in the company is as unhappy as possible with the status quo: Make sure your people hate the way things are today so that they will buy into the vision of where they can be tomorrow, he advises.

Your team always needs a “B-HAG,” said Loeffler with a grin. “Do you know what a B-HAG is? That’s a big hairy-ass goal.” People have a natural reluctance to change; a leader must overcome this, and excite the team to want to change.

“A good leader is always up to something.”
—Robert (Bob) Loeffler ’77

When it comes right down to it, business is a game, he says. The leader is responsible for creating an exciting, challenging game for the team to play through setting goals. The leader is playing the game, too, by doing everything possible to help the team win.

Loeffler asks: Would you rather spend your career clocking in and clocking out, then starting to really live after quitting time? Or would you rather spend your day playing a game that is complicated, challenging, meaningful, and rewarding, working alongside team members who join you in the pursuit of becoming champions?

“The leader has the responsibility to take what could otherwise be a humdrum worklife and turn it into a noble and challenging game to play. That will make all the difference to your people and to the results your organization achieves.”

Also, be a team player, not a glory hog, he advises. You win when the team wins. “If you are more committed to the team than to yourself, you will receive much personal credit. The opposite is true, as well.”

Be yourself, and be sure of yourself.

Leadership skills can be learned from others, but leadership style isn’t something you should strive to duplicate. There’s no better way to lead than the way your experiences and personality dictate, says Loeffler. Give up trying to look good; have fun; be real, vulnerable, transparent—be yourself. “Be the same person at work that you are at home.”

Prior to delivering his lecture, Loeffler met with students in the M.B. Zale Leadership Scholars program.
Prior to delivering his lecture, Loeffler met with students in the M.B. Zale Leadership Scholars program. (view more photos)

“Trying to look good will actually make you look bad,” he says.

At the same time, a leader “has to be responsible and grown up all the time.” The best leaders don’t lose their tempers or have a bad day that anyone other than their spouse can detect.

Leaders must have confidence, not only in their ability to make decisions, but also in the way that they deal with subordinates. This is key, he says. This is one area where many leaders fail: “Successful leaders have people working for them who have as much or more horsepower then they themselves do.” Leaders can’t feel threatened by these people, but rather must maximize their performance. “Powerful people won’t work for someone who won’t allow them to act powerfully.” Don’t hobble your top people through micromanaging, he says.

“One secret to success in leadership is to hire powerful people and to allow them to be powerful. Coach them, train them, point the way, then get the heck out of their way.”

Leaders who micromanage do so because they live in fear of failure. This impacts the whole team as the leader feels the need to examine every decision and every action. “This will ensure that subordinates eventually learn to just not make any decisions or take any actions unless the boss has said to. No one learns, no one acts powerfully, no one takes accountability, and the only one who owns the success of the organization is the boss.”

Fear Factor

Successful leaders aren’t afraid to give and receive feedback. Loeffler says that he was a conflict avoider for the first 40 years of his life—a trait that he realized was holding him back professionally, as he was afraid to voice displeasure or give truthful feedback to subordinates.

“It basically paralyzed me as a leader in certain instances,” he said. “I now realize there is no greater gift you can give to a subordinate than timely, direct feedback—especially negative feedback.” This is the only way you can develop your team and help individuals perform well and eventually be promoted to leadership positions themselves.

The alternative is to say nothing and be stuck with less than stellar employees, whom you may then have to fire for nonperformance. “In the case of employees who have talent and desire, they will consider your feedback a compliment, that you care enough to help them develop into a more effective person—and they will act upon your feedback.”

Feedback from those employees is also valuable. Don’t be afraid to ask your subordinates what you could be doing better, he says. “Continually assess yourself and ask others to assess you.”

About the M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Award

Loeffler visited campus on April 7 to receive the M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Award, presented each year to a retailer who is celebrated for their innovation in the field, and to guest lecture. While at Mays, he also met with a select group of retailing students to discuss issues facing the industry.

The event was hosted by the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays. Previous recipients of the Zale award have included: Maxine Clark, chairman and chief executive bear, Build-A-Bear Workshop; Mike Ullman, chairman and CEO, JCPenney Inc.; Matt Rubel, CEO and president, Payless ShoeSource; and Sam Duncan, CEO and chairman, OfficeMax Inc.

Categories: Centers, Executive Speakers, Former Students

In 1960, fresh out of college, Frank Raymond made his mark in the control valve and manual valve industry with the introduction of a revolutionary electric actuator. He started with nothing but a great idea and the passion to be successful. Now the co-founder and chairman of Houston-based Bray International, a valve and actuator design and manufacturing firm, he has not forgotten his humble beginnings or his journey to the top. He wants to use his success—and the lessons he’s learned to achieve it—to benefit the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. That was the motivation for Raymond and his wife, Jean, to commit to a gift of $410,000 to provide scholarships through the Mays Business School Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship. Their gift will provide 82 scholarships over the next 20 years.

Frank Raymond

Raymond says he hopes to be very involved in the lives of the scholarship recipients, if they are interested in his mentorship. “I love to see and be involved in the process of young people trying to find their way,” he says, expressing his intention to personally interview top scholarship applicants with his wife and son, a bank examiner for the federal government. “I want to follow these students in their careers…not just give the money and disappear. I want to know what they are thinking and doing along the way.”

That relationship is significant, says Richard Lester, clinical associate professor management and executive director of the CNVE. “What Frank and Jean Raymond are doing for our program is measured not only in their financial support, but also to our students “other’ educational opportunities. Students who receive the Raymond scholarship, I am confident, will benefit for life from this relationship. We are very fortunate that the Raymonds have chosen our program to help launch the next round of Aggie entrepreneurs, which our economy and world need now more than ever.”

Taking a product from design to production, launching and selling and merging companies, opening plants all around the world—Raymond has done it all when it comes to entrepreneurship. He hopes that through these scholarships, he can help a young person learn in the classroom what he had to learn the hard way through mistakes and experience.

Today, Raymond says he is “semi-working.” Raymond enjoys spending time on his ranch in Round Top, Texas. He is still involved at Bray as the chairman, but he is also pursuing interests he hasn’t had time for in the past. He established the Frank J. and Jean Raymond Foundation, Inc., which supports scholarships at Mays in addition to the Fayetteville Chamber Music Festival in Fayetteville, Texas, (where he is also a member of the board of directors). He is working to create a scholarship at the Round Top/Carmine High School, and is also establishing a relationship with a school in Cypress, Texas for special needs youth.

Though not a former student, Raymond’s esteem for Texas A&M is obvious. He’s worked with many Aggies (most of them engineers) at Bray, and says that he is constantly impressed with the current students he meets when he travels to College Station for events for the Craig and Galen Brown Foundation (Craig Brown ’75 is Raymond’s business partner) and also for football games. “I wish I’d done this 20 years ago,” he says of the scholarship fund. “Now, I am doing it, and I’m going to keep doing it.”

Categories: Centers, Donors Corner

From the significance of a job candidate’s handshake, to team dynamics and top management effectiveness, to personality indicators and employee turnover, Murray Barrick’s research provides insight into the situational and personal antecedents to success at work. In recognition of his 22 years of leadership through management scholarship, Barrick has recently been singled out for praise by the Academy of Management as well as Texas A&M University.


Barrick was recently named a Fellow of the Academy of Management—a distinction earned by less than 1.5 percent of the nearly 20,000 members of the academy worldwide. The prestigious fellows group, which meets annually, was established to honor members of the Academy of Management who have made significant contributions to the science and practice of management. Fellows serve as ambassadors for the academy.

Mays has the unique position of employing five other academy Fellows: Ricky Griffin, Luis Gomez-Mejia, Michael Hitt, Don Hellriegel, and Duane Ireland. This places Mays behind only four universities (Harvard University, University of Michigan, Stanford University, and University of Washington) in terms of the number of Fellows.

“Professor Barrick’s recognition by the Academy is noteworthy and acknowledges his place among the very top thought leaders in Management,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “His work is unusual in that it impacts both the classroom and the boardroom and has heavily impacted the workplace of the world’s leading organizations.”

Earlier this year, Barrick was also recognized by the Texas A&M University system when he was designated an A&M Distinguished Professor. This title denotes a faculty member who is recognized as being in the top five percent of his or her field by peers throughout the world.

Murray Barrick (center) and the other A&M Distinguished Professors at Mays: (left to right) R. Duane Ireland, Ricky W. Griffin, Michael Hitt and Rajan Varadarajan
Murray Barrick (center) and the other A&M Distinguished Professors at Mays: (left to right) R. Duane Ireland, Ricky W. Griffin, Michael Hitt and Rajan Varadarajan

Faculty members are nominated by academic units and are endorsed with letters of support from the top researchers in the nominee’s field. Only a handful of other faculty members at Mays and at A&M hold this distinction.

While Barrick has examined a number of areas in management in his 22 years in academe, it is his examination of the Big Five personality dimensions and their implications in the workplace in particular that has earned him renown in management and psychology fields (see Barrick’s full research). His paper, “The Big Five personality dimensions and job performance: A meta-analysis,” published in 1991 in Personnel Psychology, was recognized by the Academy of Management in 1992 with the Outstanding Published Paper award, and was later noted to be the most frequently cited article in that journal during the past decade. More recently, it was reported to be the most highly cited article in Industrial Psychology between 2001 and 2005. By April 2010, this one article has been cited over 2,700 times ((Google Scholar, April 2010)).

About Murray Barrick

Barrick is head of the department of management and is the Paul M. and Rosalie Robertson Chair in Business. He joined the faculty at Mays in July 2006.

He previously served at Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa, where he wore the title Stanley M. Howe Professor of Management. He also taught at Michigan State University.

Barrick’s research focuses on the impact individual differences in behavior and personality have on job performance and on methods of measuring and predicting such differences. He also studies work team success, examining the role of team composition, team interdependence, and team processes on team performance. Also of significance, he has examined the influence candidate self-presentation tactics have on the interviewer during an employment interview.

The author of more than 50 refereed articles, Barrick has contributed research into publications including the Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes among others. His work has been cited over 7,500 times ((Google Scholar, April 2010)).

In 2008, Barrick was named along with his co-author, Michael Mount, with the Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. This award honors the individual who has made the most distinguished empirical and/or theoretical scientific contributions to the field of industrial and organizational psychology. Barrick commented that this was “…without a doubt the most significant achievement of my career.”

Barrick earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Akron. His teaching interests focus on the strategic utilization of human resources, developing effective selection systems, and incorporating motivation to manage more effectively.

Categories: Faculty, Texas A&M

Street vendors in India, childcare providers in the United States, farm workers in Mexico: what do they have in common? They’re informal entrepreneurs, dealing in cash, unregulated and untaxed by the government. Depending on the country, these industrious, under-the-radar businesspeople account for as much as 80 percent of a nation’s economic output. Do traditional theories of entrepreneurship, theories that explain how entrepreneurial ventures are established and succeed in the formal economy also help us understand the establishment and potential success of ventures in the informal economy?

R. Duane Ireland

This is one of the questions R. Duane Ireland, Texas A&M University Distinguished Professor of Management and Carroll and Dorothy Conn Chair in New Ventures Leadership, has examined recently. This important area of exploration is a small part of his large body of research, built over the past three plus decades of his career in academe. In recognition of his thought-leadership in the field of management, Ireland has been elected to an officer position on the board of governors of the Academy of Management. He will serve as president of the academy in the fourth year of the five-year term.

Ireland is the fourth member of the Mays management faculty to hold this position. Previous faculty members to serve as presidents of the academy are Don Hellriegel, Professor Emeritus; Michael Hitt, Distinguished Professor and Joe B. Foster ’56 Chair in Business Leadership; and former department head Angelo DeNisi, who left Mays in 2005 to become dean of the Freeman Business School at Tulane University.

“There’s a major commitment from this department to give back to the academy,” says Ireland. “Texas A&M and [Mays leadership] are supportive and encourage us to give back through the academy roles. Knowing how important the academy is to this faculty, we all feel that whenever we have the opportunity to serve, we clearly should do so.”

Ireland is enthusiastic about his upcoming term with the academy, which will begin in August 2010. In the first two years, he will be involved in developing programs and workshops for the academy’s annual meetings. In the following years, he will be vice president, president, and past president.

He sees this service opportunity as a chance to “represent our university and to represent Mays,” in a meaningful way. As the current editor of the Academy of Management Journal, he travels multiple times each semester to guest lecture around the country. He will continue to be high profile in his new office, which will be of benefit to the business school. “It signals to others that Texas A&M’s management department is very involved in scholarship and in the academy…It gives us a lot of credibility.”

The academy represents nearly 20,000 management faculty members from universities around the world. In this leadership role, Ireland will work with others with the purpose of positively impacting the scholarship and professional development of scholars throughout the world.

The current board of governors of the academy recently concluded updating the organization’s strategic plan. Ireland expects that implementing the changes the board wishes to make will be a significant challenge during his term in office. Specifically, Ireland predicts he will work to help the academy increase engagement via technology, facilitating thought sharing between members of their global organization. Also, Ireland is interested in helping academy members reach their objectives as scholars interested in creating knowledge through their work and effectively disseminating new information through their teaching.

The election to the top leadership of an international management organization is the crowning achievement for Ireland, who has had his share of accolades and achievements. For the past three years he has served as the editor of the Academy of Management Journal, one of the premiere journals for publishing empirical management scholarship. He has served in other roles with that publication, as well as associate editor of Academy of Management Executive and consulting editor of Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice.

From 2005 to 2007, Ireland served as the head of the Department of Management at Mays. In 2007, he was named a Texas A&M Distinguished Professor, a title given by the chancellor of the A&M System, connoting a researcher who is considered among the top five percent of their field by peers throughout the world.

His latest election within the Academy of Management is not his first role there. From 2002 to 2005, he was a representative-at-large on its board of governors. He also has served as a member of the executive committee and as secretary of the business policy and strategy division. He is also one of four Mays faculty members to be appointed as a Fellow of the academy (Hitt and Hellriegel, as well as Murray Barrick, department head, Distinguished Professor and Paul M. & Rosalie Robertson Chair in Business).

Categories: Faculty

Texas A&M Distinguished Professor of Management Michael Hitt was recently recognized in a list of top researchers in business and economics, prepared by Times Higher Education. The list ranks the top 68 authors in the fields of economics, finance, and business management by the number of papers published from 1970 through 2009 that were cited 50 or more times.

Michael Hitt

Hitt is the top ranked scholar in the field of management, with 30 papers averaging over 100 citations each. His varying research interests over the past three plus decades have focused on strategic management, international strategy, and strategic entrepreneurship. Overall, he is listed at #11 (tied).

The list is compiled by Thompson Reuters from its Web of Science database.

Hitt holds the Joe B. Foster Chair in Business Leadership at Mays. He has authored or coauthored more than 280 publications, including 26 books. A recent article listed him among the top ten most cited management scholars over a 25-year period. He is a past president of the Academy of Management and the current past president of the Strategic Management Society; he is also a Fellow of both organizations. He is a former editor of the Academy of Management Journal and is the current co-editor of the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal.

A researcher of renown, Hitt received awards in 1996 and 1999 from the American Society for Competitiveness for his work. He received an honorary doctorate (Doctor Honoris Causa) from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. He has received awards for the best article published in the Academy of Management Executive (1999), Academy of Management Journal (2000) and Journal of Management (2006). He has also received the Irwin Outstanding Educator Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the Academy of Management.

Categories: Faculty