Kathleen M. Eisenhardt
Kathleen M. Eisenhardt

Kathleen M. Eisenhardt’s biggest advice to Mays faculty and students is to push the limits on what you know. “You need to get outside your comfort zone and read something else,” said Eisenhardt. She stressed that by looking in new places, relying on different methods and reading different literature, researchers can see even well-studied research phenomena in a new light.

Eisenhardt spoke to a nearly packed room of faculty and students at Ray Auditorium as part of the 2013 Dean’s Distinguished Scholar Lecture Series, a forum that presents distinguished scholars from an array of business disciplines.

She is currently Stanford W. Ascherman M.D. Professor and Co-Director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program at Stanford University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Brown University and a PhD from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

Eisenhardt has published extensive research in top academic and management journals on corporate and entrepreneurial strategy and organization. She is co-author of the award-winning book Competing on the Edge: Strategy as Structured Chaos, which was named a top business and investing book by Amazon.com. Throughout her career, Eisenhardt has partnered with firms in a wide variety of industries, including software, biotech, semiconductor and computing.

The lecture highlighted several of Eisenhardt’s research studies and illustrated key concepts of corporate and entrepreneurial managerial decision-making. An important theme behind her discussion was the idea of “acquisition as courtship, not dominance.” She challenges the traditional view of the acquisition process, which assumes that buyers are the decision makers and sellers are no more than weak participants.

Instead, Eisenhardt offered evidence suggesting that sellers are actually important forces behind acquisitions because of their power of choice. She explained that buyer selection is a complex process because it is typically based on more than selecting the bidder with the highest offer. Sellers are often more motivated to choose a buyer on the basis of organizational fit and combination potential.

Eisenhardt also discussed alliance portfolios and introduced several entrepreneurial do-s and don’t-s for building effective portfolios. She emphasized that high-growth entrepreneurs focus on strategic processes, such as product innovation, sales, and internationalization, and learn to develop useful heuristics, or simple rules, over time to make more effective business decisions.

One student who attended the lecture praised the program for providing students with a unique perspective on relevant managerial research concepts. “Dr. Eisenhardt’s lecture provided innovative glimpses into different aspects of entrepreneurship and corporations,” said Business Honors freshman Logan McDivitt. “Her research expertise exposed neglected sections of commonly researched topics, which provided thought-provoking conclusions in areas such as mergers and acquisitions, leadership structures, and enhancing your research through expanded reading research.”

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.