Two Aggies committed $500,000 to Mays Business School because they want to give back to Texas A&M University, which they credit with providing them with rich experiences, lifelong friends and their relationship with one another.

Their $500,000 commitment to establish the Ashley B. ’88 and David L. Coolidge ’87 Chair in Business will be matched with funds given to Mays from Peggy and Lowry Mays ’57 of San Antonio, bringing the total endowment to $1 million. Distributions from the endowment will be used to support the teaching, research, service and professional development activities of the chairholder.

David '87 and Ashley Coolidge '88
David ’87 and Ashley Coolidge ’88

The Coolidge family lives in Houston and owns an energy commodity fund that trades in natural gas. David Coolidge says although neither he nor his wife Ashley graduated from the business school, both are impressed with its accomplishments and direction.

“The business school has always been good, but now it’s great,” he says. “It is very renowned nationally, and that doesn’t happen by accident. I am honored and blessed to be able to give back to Texas A&M and to support the solid program at Mays. We hope our gift has a positive impact on the students and also inspires someone else to give back.”

“Any gift of this magnitude to our school is meaningful,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “The fact that neither David nor Ashley was a Mays graduate makes this even more special. Through their generosity, our school will be able to attract and retain top faculty members whose work with students inside and outside of the classroom will change their lives. Our school owes the Coolidges – a true debt of gratitude.”

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students

Diana and Todd Brock ’85 committed $300,000 to Mays Business School because they say they want to help boost the program that accommodates the “best and brightest” at Mays. The Diana and Todd Brock ’85 Business Honors Scholarship Program scholarships are targeted to full-time students enrolled in the Business Honors major.

Todd Brock '85
Brock ’85

Todd Brock says his positive experiences with Mays students and graduates prompted the gift. “I am super impressed with the upper end of the business school, and I want to do what I can to promote it,” he says. “I want to perpetuate the Aggie name and good reputation.”

He says business contacts he encounters across the country are aware of the quality of Mays students. “There’s a pride issue involved here. I want to perpetuate the good Aggie name.”

Mays Dean Jerry Strawser expressed appreciation for the Brocks’ generosity. “Through their most generous commitment to our school, the Brocks are allowing Mays to recruit and attract the very best young minds,” he said. “Our Business Honors students are recruited by top public and private universities in the United States. The financial support their gift will provide demonstrates our commitment to their education.”

Brock says he has hired numerous business graduates in the businesses he operates through his private equity group. “I don’t have to tell my employees to hire Aggies, the Aggies sell themselves,” he says. “Once they come in for the interviews and show what they know and how polished they are, they are good candidates for the jobs we have available.”

In addition to his experiences with Texas A&M as an employer, his three daughters are current or former Texas A&M students.

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students

Michael Hitt makes doing the right things look easy, and when he is mentoring others, he makes them feel as if the right decisions were theirs all along — even if he quietly helped nudge them in that direction.

In other words, he is a gifted teacher.

He is also a prolific researcher with a knack for putting his research into action. He has coauthored or co-edited 26 books and authored or coauthored many journal articles, and the attention to his research on strategic management attracts rivals top scholars in other fields.

Academic excellence

Michael Hitt
Michael Hitt

A forthcoming article in the Academy of Management Perspectives recognizes Hitt’s scholarly influence on audiences outside his field — indeed, outside of academia — based on the number of citations and Google entries. And a recent article listed Hitt as one of the 10 most-cited authors in management over a 25-year period. The Times Higher Education in 2010 listed him among the top scholars in economics, finance and management and that he is first among management scholars (tied) with the largest number of highly cited articles.

Hitt’s professional accolades are many: He is a University Distinguished Professor in management at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School and holds the Joe B. Foster Chair in Business Leadership. He received his PhD from the University of Colorado.

He has served on the editorial review boards of multiple journals and is a former editor of the Academy of Management Journal and a former co-editor of the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal.

Teaching, research entwined

Hitt says the relationship between research and teaching is complicated and that the two can’t be easily separated.

“The detractors don’t realize how research changes what we teach in the classroom. For example, in my field, the textbooks in the 1980s did not have much text, they were composed of almost all case studies. Now the content of those books is almost all based on research that is translated for practice.”

  • Former editor of the Academy of Management Journal and a former co-editor of the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal
  • Fellow in the Academy of Management and the Strategic Management Society
  • Former president of the Academy of Management and of the Strategic Management Society
  • Member of the Academy of Management Journals’ Hall of Fame
  • Best article published in the Academy of Management Executive (1999), Academy of Management Journal (2000) and Journal of Management (2006)
  • Award for Outstanding Academic Contributions to Competitiveness (1996) and the Award for Outstanding Intellectual Contributions to Competitiveness Research (1999) from the American Society for Competitiveness
  • Irwin Outstanding Educator Award and Distinguished Service Award from the Academy of Management (2001)
  • Best Paper Prize from the Strategic Management Society (2004)
  • Falcone Distinguished Entrepreneurship Scholar Award from Syracuse University (2006)

Without research, instruction becomes static, Hitt explains. “Outstanding teachers always want to learn more about what is emerging. For me, what is exciting is what will benefit the undergraduates and the graduates — from the MBAs to the executive MBAs to the professional MBAs to the executive development programs. It’s not just my specific research, it’s reading what other people are learning. I don’t have to invent or discover everything, but I do think it’s my responsibility to be aware of all that I can.”

Hitt says the laboratory for research in the field of business is the workplace. “I study organizations – what the executives and the employees do — and I study entrepreneurs.” For his research, he collected data from 640 entrepreneurs across four countries – a task that took two years. “That information has implications far beyond what I am even going to be able to do with it.”

Jerry Strawser, Hitt’s dean at Mays Business School, calls him “truly a one-of-a-kind scholar. … The numerous awards and accolades he has received reflect the fact that his research findings direct the work of other scholars and course of future study in the academic profession. In addition, he studies relevant issues that affect the business world and impact economic development. In short, his research affects both the academic and business worlds and is used both in the classroom and in the boardroom.”

Kai Xu, who has completed her second year in the doctoral program under Hitt’s guidance, calls him “a very established but incredibly nice professor.” She says: “He always helps his students in a very insightful but also respectful way. Sometimes, you cannot even feel the help until someday you suddenly realize how helpful he is and how valuable his advice is in your research projects.”

Joanna Campbell, who recently defended her dissertation successfully and remains at Texas A&M, says Hitt is very passionate about research, and that his work has had an enormous impact on the field of strategic management. She calls him one of the most prolific management researchers as well as a great role model for young scholars.

“He has made major contributions to multiple research areas, including mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, and human capital. Yet, he is one of the most humble people I know. He also knows how to translate his research and make it accessible for people outside of academia, including executives.”

Campbell says Hitt’s patience is valuable when working with doctoral students. She adds, “while he always offers his input, he lets us make our own decisions, even if he disagrees with them. In the end, he is always right, but I think he would rather let us learn from our mistakes than force someone into doing something they are not comfortable with.”

Categories: Faculty, Featured Stories

Mays Business School at Texas A&M will present a daylong Summer Learning Seminar (SLS) on July 14. The seminar sessions will examine the historic implications of Texas A&M University’s move to the SEC, analyze innovative corporate strategy, investigate the importance of internal marketing and share practical tactics for sustainable growth.

Over 100 former students attended the inaugural Mays Summer Learning Seminar in 2011.
Over 100 former students attended the inaugural Mays Summer Learning Seminar in 2011.

The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited and registration is required. The registration deadline is July 10. Find out more at or by calling (979) 845-5435.

Presenters will be Jason Cook, vice president of Marketing & Communications at Texas A&M; Michael Hitt, University Distinguished Professor of Management at Mays and Joe B. Foster ’56 Chair in Business Leadership; Paul Busch, Professor of Marketing at Mays and Regents Professor; and Evolve Performance Group.

The daylong learning event will explore the processes and decisions used to formulate long-term business strategy. The seminar will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Wehner Building at Texas A&M University, and a reception will follow.

The seminar sessions will examine the historic implications of Texas A&M’s move to the SEC, analyze innovative corporate strategy, investigate the importance of internal marketing and share practical tactics for sustainable growth. This is a unique opportunity for current students and graduates of Mays Business School to enhance their knowledge, network with fellow current and former students, and reconnect with Texas A&M and Mays.

Guests at last year’s inaugural SLS said it provided solid takeaways for them to implement, and they have been eager for a repeat. “With Texas A&M moving into the SEC and the excitement surrounding the “100-Year Decision,’ we felt this would provide an ideal case study for long term business strategy,'” explains Joshua Ellison, alumni relations coordinator at Mays Business School. “The integration of the two topics seemed only too perfect: explain the business decisions behind the SEC move and fulfill the desire for additional practical business solutions.”

Categories: Programs, Texas A&M

Realizing the importance of education inside and outside of the classroom, Rodney L. ’88 and Karen Faldyn have committed $100,000 to create Rodney L. ’88 and Karen Faldyn Professional Development Endowment at Mays Business School. Funds from this endowment will provide support for professional development opportunities for students in the Business Honors program, such as participation in student competitions, student conferences, and student domestic and international travel experiences.

Rodney '88 and Karen Faldyn
Rodney ’88 and Karen Faldyn

Faldyn says he and his wife want to help Business Honors attract and educate the “bright, top-notch students from around the country.” He says the major “has developed into such a prestigious program, we wanted to help in attracting quality students into the program when financial constraints might otherwise be a deterrent.”

“The generosity of friends like Rodney and Karen Faldyn allow us to provide life-changing experiences to our Business Honors students,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser. “Whether a study abroad experience to India or a student competition at a U.S. university, their gift will provide our students with tremendous opportunities to enrich their educational experiences.”

When Faldyn graduated in 1988 with a degree in accounting, he began with a job with Touche Ross & Co. (predecessor to Deloitte & Touche), where he had done an internship. He is currently president and CEO of Academy Sports + Outdoors in Katy.

“I have had the good fortune of hiring a lot of students over my career from Mays Business School,” he explains. “Work ethic, integrity and leadership abilities are key building blocks in beginning and sustaining any successful career. These are common traits among Texas A&M graduates”.

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Donors Corner, Former Students

Prior research finds that there is substantial variation in firms’ ability to avoid income taxes. One possible determinant of this tax avoidance variation is the influence of industry expertise of a firm’s external auditor.

In other words, the tax-specific expertise of the external auditing company a firm hires potentially makes a big difference in companies’ level of tax avoidance, and ultimately, net income.


Thomas Omer


Mays Business School faculty members and researchers Sean McGuire (an assistant professor in accounting), Thomas Omer (Ernst & Young Professor of Accounting) and Dechun Wang (assistant professor in accounting) set out to investigate the relationship between firms’ level of tax avoidance and the proficiencies of the external auditing companies those firms were hiring.

“We started this project because we were interested in the influence of the external audit firm on their clients’ tax avoidance activities,” says McGuire. “Many corporations hire their external audit firm to provide tax services in addition to their audit services. Accordingly, our goal was to investigate whether the tax expertise of audit firms that provide tax services to their client influences their clients’ level of tax avoidance.”

McGuire defines tax avoidance as “any strategy that reduces a firm’s tax liability, used by companies to generate cash savings and increase after tax earnings by reducing their tax expense.”

“Consistent with other academic research,” he explains, “we view tax avoidance as a continuum that ranges from clearly legal strategies, like investments in municipal bonds, to those of questionable legality, like tax shelters.”

The research relied on previous audit studies that define expertise in terms of industry and audit office fees. Two types of industry expertise were identified to measure the level of expertise in firms: overall expertise and tax expertise.

Both overall and tax expertise are designed to capture an audit firm’s tax expertise within a particular industry and city office. However, overall expertise includes audit expertise, rather than solely the firm’s level of tax proficiency.

To gather the information, McGuire says the researchers estimated companies’ tax-specific industry expertise based on an audit firm’s market share in a given industry and city. “We calculated market share using publicly available data from Audit Analytics,” McGuire shares.

The results of the research found that firms who hire industry experts exhibit higher levels of tax avoidance relative to firms that do not hire industry experts.

McGuire expounds upon the research results, saying, “I think the most interesting finding is that the clients of audit firms that have overall expertise, i.e. combined audit and tax expertise, exhibit high levels of tax avoidance. This finding suggests that the combined tax and financial reporting expertise of audit firms allows them to develop tax strategies that benefit their clients from both a tax and financial statement perspective.”

The research results provide a number of significant contributions to tax avoidance literature. Not only do the findings contribute to the stream of research investigating the variation in firms’ tax avoidance activities, but they also provide evidence on the association between the industry expertise of the firm’s external auditor and the firm’s tax activities.

According to McGuire, prior research documents substantial variation in firms’ level of tax avoidance. “Given that there are obvious benefits to avoiding income taxes (higher net income), it is important to understand why some firms are more successful than others in avoiding income taxes,” he says. “It is also interesting to examine whether the industry expertise developed by audit firms (in terms of tax-specific expertise and auditing expertise) influences the tax avoidance of their clients.”

Categories: Research Notes

Companies who produce items such as biochemicals, ready concrete, milk, eggs and even DVDs always arrive at an important question: What is the quickest, most effective way to distribute these short shelf life products?

Neil Geismar, an associate professor in the department of Information and Operations Management at Texas A&M University, along with fellow researchers Milind Dawande and Chelliah Sriskandarajah from the University of Texas at Dallas, explored the solutions to these companies’ issues with distribution of perishable products.

Neil Geismar

The zero-inventory production and distribution problem (ZIPDP) is a common problem encountered in situations in which a product cannot be inventoried because of its short shelf life. Short shelf life is determined by either physical characteristics (such as perishable food items or chemicals) or by the limited duration of market interest (such as magazines, DVDs and electronic games).

Geismar’s research was initiated at the request of the Vice President of Operations at Blockbuster, Inc.’s, distribution center in McKinney, Texas. “He asked us for help to make his system run more efficiently,” Geismar explains. The facility supports 5,600 retail stores via 40 regional hubs, or “pool points.”

“Quick delivery of DVDs to the retail outlets is important because DVDs have an extremely short product life cycle, which can be attributed to the ephemeral nature of most entertainment products, to the release of new titles on DVD every week, and to the release date requirements imposed by the movie studios,” Geismar says.

ZIPDP’s challenge is to coordinate the production and transportation operations so that the total cost of operations is minimized while the product lifetime and the delivery capacity constraints are satisfied. Geismar puts it this way: “The product’s limited lifetime implies that no inventory can be held between production and delivery; hence, the two functions are tightly coupled.”

ZIPDP answers some of the following questions:
  • When and how much should be produced at the plant?
  • Should the production rate be increased?
  • How many delivery trucks should be hired?
  • When should the trucks leave the plant?

The researchers examined a popular method of distribution, the pool-point delivery model, which is also known as the “hub-and-spoke” delivery model. In pool-point distribution, the product or service is delivered to dispersed clusters of demand points by first delivering large quantities to pool points (hubs), which are centrally located in their respective clusters. The large quantities of products are then dispersed into small carriers for point-to-point connections (spokes).

This system is used by a wide variety of industries: airlines (large jets fly between hubs, small ones from hubs to other cities), freight distribution, light petroleum products, candy distribution, automobile distribution, and newspaper delivery. Each of these industries requires two steps of distribution—first to the “hubs,” then to the “spokes.”

Combining pool-point distribution and zero-inventory products is no simple feat. Geismar’s research discusses a few real-world examples of this type of distribution, including the production and distribution of ready concrete for the construction of venues for the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. This example served as a case study for the researchers to investigate when considering the production and distribution of Blockbuster DVDs.

Geismar says the research primarily focused on two objectives relevant in the practice: Minimizing the sum of production and delivery time, and minimizing the total cost for producing and delivering products. The research also examined minimizing mean flow time, minimizing maximum lateness, and minimizing the number of late deliveries in the pool point distribution system.

The research details how these systems operate and provide “efficient algorithms to find optimal schedules for various objectives,” the research states.

The researchers’ paper was the first rigorous study of pool-point distribution in a zero-inventory system. Geismar notes that managers’ supply chain decisions are based on production times, delivery times, the cost to hire each truck, and the cost to increase the production rate, so the results of the study proved effective and beneficial to companies facing distribution issues similar to Blockbuster.

Geismar’s research sums it up this way: “By analyzing overall system cost, we provided managerial insights into how different costs for trucks and for production rates affect the optimum decisions on how many trucks to hire and on which production rate to use for various objectives.”

Categories: Research Notes

Think about basic economics — when you specialize in one skill and your neighbor specializes in another, you’re both better off when you collaborate and trade amongst each other, rather than relying on your own advantages.

Firms are increasingly recognizing this principle holds true when it comes to research and development (R&D) information sharing among firms.

Businesses form research and development alliances when developing new products. An R&D alliance is a formal relationship between two or more firms to pursue mutually beneficial goals. The firms remain independent entities, but enter into an agreement to combine their knowledge bases in order to expand and refine innovations. “It’s simple,” says Lorraine Eden, a management professor at Mays Business School. “Two brains are better than one.”

R. Duane Ireland

Michael Hitt

Lorraine Eden

Many industries are involved in R&D alliances, including pharmaceutical, automotive, electronics and chemical companies. When the costs and risks of developing new products are both high, these firms are more likely to enter into an R&D alliance, says Michael Hitt, a University Distinguished Professor in management and Joe B. Foster ’56 Chair in Business Leadership.

Dan Li ’05, now teaching at Indiana University, worked at Texas A&M with Eden, Hitt and R. Duane Ireland, Distinguished Professor in management, Conn Chair in New Ventures Leadership and AMJ Editor, on a recent study to examine which type of governance structure is most effective for these alliances. They focused their research on multilateral alliances (three or more firms) and compared them with bilateral alliances (a joint venture between two firms).

“Very few have studied multilateral alliances,” Hitt said in describing the research’s uniqueness. Eden adds: “People have been researching bilateral firms for the past 20-30 years, but there’s been not much written on multilateral ones.”

Hitt describes information sharing between firms as “a real balancing act.” Individual firms must manage the information they share and the information they protect. “In a joint venture,” says Hitt. “If everyone invests money, there’s an incentive to share information and be fair.” They wanted to learn if this remained true when the number of partners increases.

According to Eden, much of the intended knowledge sharing within the alliances involves “tacit information” — information that must be thoroughly explained and demonstrated by one firm to another. She argues that selecting the type of governance (equity-based or contractual) structure can be critical to the success of the R&D alliance since equity ownership, where one firm owns a piece of the other firms, can help facilitate planned knowledge sharing among them.

At the same time, however, sharing knowledge often leads to “unintended information leakages,” which causes problems among the R&D alliance partners. “There’s a real hesitancy,” Hitt says. “When you’re in an alliance, you have to trust your partners, who are potential competitors, to be fair.”

Their study examined 2,500 alliances — 1,700 bilateral and 750 multilateral. The researchers also compared governance structures in two types of trilateral R&D alliances: chain and net. The study found that 18 percent of trilateral alliances use a chain-based approach, which involves a passing of information from one firm to another, and 82 percent of alliances use net-based approaches, or group sharing.

As the complexity of the alliance increases, the probability of cheating also increases. For example, the alliance between pharmaceutical companies becomes more complex if the companies are from different countries, mainly because intellectual property rights vary internationally. Additionally, the more firms involved in an alliance, the more likely there will be a “free-rider,” or a firm that wants information from other companies without sharing any of its own. This is more likely the case in net than in chain trilateral alliances, notes, Eden, because it is “easier for the cheater to hide.”

The research found that equity governance structures, rather than contractual structures, combat the uncertainty of information-sharing firms face as complexity escalates in multilateral alliances. Equity ownership can help compensate for complexity and free-rider problems, while also helping to facilitate intended knowledge transfers. The greater the emphasis on equity share, the smoother the facilitation and transfer of information, the research notes.

The authors found that, for both knowledge sharing and knowledge protection reasons, firms were more likely to use an equity governance structure in multilateral than in bilateral R&D alliances. Similarly, net trilateral alliances were more likely than chain ones to use equity governance structures.

Eden suggested that the study offers a confirmation for firms interested in governance mechanisms. “Companies will be able to look at the findings and determine what type of governance is best for their alliance.”

Categories: Research Notes

The Kerry Cooper Endowment will honor Dr. S. Kerry Cooper, the longtime former executive director of the Center for International Business Studies (CIBS) at Mays Business School. CIBS Executive Director Julian Gaspar led the effort to create the endowment at the time of Cooper’s retirement in 2011. Of the $100,000 goal, a total of $72,000 in contributions and commitments has been raised.

S. Kerry Cooper

Former students, faculty and friends of Cooper’s have committed to funding the endowment. Ray Hannigan ’61, an advocate of globalization of business education and recently retired member of the CIBS Advisory Council, made the initial contribution to honor Cooper for his contributions to CIBS. “He personally raised the level of awareness of international programs at A&M and was responsible for an innumerable number of Aggies getting exposure to working and studying abroad,” he says. “He was responsible for developing the vast network of “sister’ international programs with reputable universities throughout the world, and he made CIBS a leading CIBER in the United States.”

Gaspar said the fund was created to recognize and honor Cooper’s 23 years of service to Mays and CIBS, and his leadership and vision in boosting Mays Business School’s international programs.

“Kerry was instrumental in international business program design and development that benefited all Mays students — undergraduate, master’s and PhD — and also for identifying and generating resources that have set CIBS on a strong financial footing,” Gaspar says. He recalls that when Cooper received the 2011 Texas A&M University Bush Excellence Award for Faculty in International Public Service, he donated his $2,500 award to CIBS to support its international mission.

Mays Dean Jerry Strawser echoed Gaspar’s comments. “Kerry’s vision and hard work is responsible for many of our students having their very first international experience. These experiences are an irreplaceable component of Mays’ mission to prepare leaders for a global society.”

About Mays Business School

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,000 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. Its mission is to create knowledge and develop ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Centers, Donors Corner, Faculty