Professor Jaideep Anand took time out during his visit to Universidad de los Andes School of Management to talk about the experiences in his academic life and its contribution to society.
Jaideep Anand is William H. Davis Chair and Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Strategy at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University. He is also Professor of Corporate and Global Strategy at the same institution and holds a Ph.D. in Strategic and International Management from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (1995).
His research interests include strategies for firm growth, mergers acquisitions and strategic alliances, global strategy, and strategy implementation.
He has served as a member of the editorial board of the Strategic Management Journal since 2007, and since 2009 of the Global Strategy Journal. He has several papers published in renowned journals such as the Academy of Management Journal (Unpacking Absorptive Capacity: A Study of Knowledge Utilization from Alliance Portfolios. Anand and Vasudeva, 2011) and Organization Science (Alliance Activity as a Dynamic Capability: Accessing External Technology. Anand et al. 2010).
Professor Anand has received several grants. One from the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) for the 2004-2008 period, and another from the Alliance Edge Research Fellowship from Queen’s University in Canada in 2003.
- When and why did you decide to pursue an academic career?
To be completely honest, I don't think I knew what I was doing at every stage. I can look back and rationalize it but going forwards I always knew as much so it was mostly based on what I enjoyed, on instinct. I am an engineer by background. I was interested in the management application and the first thing I did was to try to do something that was in the middle of engineering and management, which is operations research and what I leant on these consulting projects is that very often, the decisions were not really based on the complete models we were building, but rather on the people with their own agendas, and all these unquantifiable things we can imagine, and this is what helped me move a little more into management. Then I decided to pursue graduate school and do an advanced degree in management. In the beginning, I was still trying to do something that would pull something from my engineering background, but over time, I realized that what I could pull from my engineering background was not the interest but rather the skills like problem solving orientation, more generally but applied to things that are not that close to engineering. So that is how I ended up doing a PhD in management without a lot of tethering to the engineering side.
- What other research areas would you like to develop in the future?
So I have a trajectory, which is united by certain theoretical aspects, but in terms of context it is fairly broad. So the research that I presented today which is a new thing I am working on currently is about solar energy and the adoption of solar energy by electric utilities. At the same time, I have ongoing work in technology, particularly health care technology and the scientific pathways. So again, these things are connected by the theoretical paradigms but they are very different contexts. I also work in different countries: some of these industries are very global like the science-based industries and others are very local, like the electric utilities. So I sometimes work in the US or in China, sometime elsewhere. In terms of the local context, I enjoy the diversity of the setting as long as it is united with the thematic coherence at the core. When you translate the research to lay person takeaways, it is not easy to see the commonalities but when we look at it from a theoretical paradigm then we can see that.
- How does your work contribute to society as a whole?
- How would you describe your teaching philosophy?
Well teaching is very important to me and when I was a doctoral student one of my professors, the chair of my committee, invited me home to a little party he had. What I noticed was that he had built all these wooden structures like birds and things. I asked him "who makes all these things? Your house is full of them." He said, "I make them." I asked him why and he said that it was because his main work, which is research, is very intangible, so he wanted to complement it by making something tangible. He said that when you do research you don't get any feedback for a long time and when you do, it is usually negative. Journals tell you whatever you did is fine but look at the other 25 you didn't do, and that is a good one because often work just gets rejected. It is very negative feedback and very long term so you don't get a sense of satisfaction on a more regular basis. So I thought about this, and thought that I wasn't very good at making birds from wood, so teaching became my woodwork because teaching, if you pay attention, you get immediate feedback though body language and you get positive feedback at the end of class, during class and so on. Some people take the trouble of writing you a message or giving you a card and those things are a real blessing. It is very complementary to research, not just intellectually, but as a person, to adjust to this life you do need these small successes along the way. You need intermediate successes. So if you ask yourself "what did I do in my life?" at the very least you can say that you had an impact because you have all these folders full of thank you notes.
- What do you learn the most from the interaction with your students?
Students are actually great teachers, particularly if you let them be your teachers. So for example, with my PhD students, I try not to tell them to do what I do. If they want to do what I do, that is fine. Otherwise, they pick what they want to do and that forces me to learn with them. I have to go along and I have to see. I have to extend myself in different directions, different techniques, so a lot of the things I described to you are things I co-explored with my PhD students. But you need to let go of your ego a little. One, you have to not use your students as a means of pushing your own ideas, and secondly, you have to be secure enough to be the student as well. So sometimes, the student figures something out before you… and that is great. So that's at PhD level. But a lot of my learning is from executives. Most of my teaching is actually with executives and their concerns change over time and their way of thinking evolves over time so that keeps me current with respect to the challenges and that is always very refreshing. It forces me to anticipate what they are thinking. A lot of my teaching with executives is customized to certain companies or certain industries, so before I show up in the classroom, I have to research the topic. I have to see what their perspective is. Who am I addressing? So even before entering the classroom it forces you to learn: you can't play the same tape. That is the advantage of working with PhD students and with executives; you do a lot of custom executive education rather than deliver this very generic content.
- During your visit, what has surprised you about Colombia?
I had very high expectations and they have been met and exceeded. It is obviously a beautiful place in terms of the natural beauty and in terms of the ambiance; the buildings outside and inside; but most of all, I have enjoyed the company and the hospitality. It has been wonderful to have very stimulating and intellectual conversations and I have enjoyed the food a lot. I have enjoyed the fruit and the exotic plants and vegetables that you normally don't get in other places. So that has added an exotic touch to the culinary aspect.
- What would you highlight from your visit to Universidad de los Andes School of Management?
I met with the Dean last night and several faculty members in the strategy area and we talked about research. I was very impressed that people are doing very exciting work in strategy. They are doing fundamental work in strategy with a common emphasis in thematic focus on sustainability and the original context. A lot of them are doing exciting work on SMEs that is very appropriate here and it adds to and complements the broader literature we have which is often based on larger firms. And many faculty members are publishing their work in journals and books. They are collaborating a lot with the real world. Most of them shared their notes about contact with managers and firms and government policy makers so that is very nice and it shows that the university and the School of Management are very high status and prestigious because they have this kind of access very easily. So it is wonderful.
Host professor, Veneta Andonova tells us about why Professor Anand is visiting the School of Management.
- How do you know the professor? What are the main research links?
Jay Anand is a widely published scholar in the fields of Strategy and International business. His holds the William H. Davis Chair and he is the Dean's Distinguished Professor of Strategy in the Ohio State University. I have met him at academic conferences where he is a regular speaker and presenter.
- What is the main purpose of the professor’s visit?
The main purpose of Jay´s visit is to give our colleagues an opportunity to interact with an influential scholar and present their work in personal meetings besides the fact that he will deliver an academic seminar. Jay is an associate editor of the Global Strategy Journal and sits in the editorial boards of Strategic Management Journal and Organization Science, both in the FT list. Any advice from a person like Jay is enormously valuable for the researchers in the Department.
- Why is it important to have this professor at the School?
Because this visit will make the School and some of the faculty members more visible to a very influential scholar and we can inform and even educate an influential scholar and editor about the important questions in the context of Colombia and Latin America. Unfortunately, very often the most influential research journals are not very sensitive to the specificities that make our research relevant for the firms and policymakers.
- What are the expectations in terms of his research contribution to the academic area?
Jay Anand publishes research in mainstream strategy and it will definitely help the Strategy Group at the School receive feedback on their research projects, but this visit will also help all faculty members to connect with the strategy domain. As a Business School we still need to develop our research agenda in this domain and Jay’s visit will contribute to consolidate ideas and hopefully collaborations that might have a direct positive effect on our publishing in high-impact strategy journals.