Jon Carr, Ph.D., joined the NC State Poole College of Management in August 2016 as the college’s first Jenkins Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship.
The Entrepreneurship Initiative Garage on NC State’s Centennial Campus has been his first-semester classroom, where he has been teaching the college’s undergraduate new venture planning course in the entrepreneurship concentration. The position is aligned with his evolving interests in research and teaching in the areas of entrepreneurship and innovation.
“I was particularly impressed with the activities of the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic and HQ Raleigh, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with other faculty in the Department of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” Carr said when asked what drew him to Poole College.
Entrepreneurship was still a relatively young discipline when he had begun his doctoral studies, he said. Carr received his doctorate in management, but he had experience early in his career working with entrepreneurial businesses and technology start-ups. Based on that experience, he was asked to support the development of curriculum and to teach classes in entrepreneurship during his eight years at Texas Christian University, where he was on the Neeley School of Business faculty prior to joining Poole College.
His specific research interests include micro-topics such as psychology and cognition as they relate to the new venture launch process, including business models and business model innovation.
“These are particularly important for new companies because through their engagement with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders, they oftentimes have to change how they offer their products and services, and as a result, they have to change how they do business,” Carr said. In a new venture, “if they don’t get their business model in place and become able to successfully execute their business plan, they can fail to launch and succeed,” he added.
Carr also is interested in how these micro-topics impact family businesses, including family support, social support and the interface between the roles of the family business owner and the family.
Entrepreneurship: A ‘Doing’ Course
In the classroom, Carr said, “I’ve always taken the approach that teaching entrepreneurship is a ‘doing’ course. Yes, it’s important to understand content as it relates to entrepreneurship, but the most important thing that students can gain from courses in entrepreneurship is an exposure to the on-the-ground challenges that entrepreneurs oftentimes face as they try to launch their companies. So I spend a lot of time working with students individually and in groups on how they can craft an opportunity and develop a business model to help them ultimately launch their company,” he said.
“At NC State, our commitment to the Entrepreneurship Clinic and our relationships within the broader community allows us to be wonderfully positioned to have students understand both the experience associated with launching a company, as well as support them as they build their skills to support that goal,” Carr said.
The E-Clinic, where students work as clinicians with entrepreneurs on projects to help them launch their companies, also is opening doors to new research for Carr and other faculty.
“One of the great benefits of the E-Clinic model is the ability to engage entrepreneurs in longitudinal data collections related to their attitudes, beliefs and activities associated with their nascent firms,” Carr said. “As a result, we are conducting cutting edge longitudinal research associated with new venture launches.”
Collaborators on that research include Poole College professors Lewis Sheats, Jeff Pollack and NC State doctoral candidate Tim Michaelis. One of their papers currently being developed relates to “how an entrepreneur’s self-confidence regarding entrepreneurial activity changes over time, and how that change is related to their entrepreneurial persistence; basically, their ability to hang in there as they pursue their business launch,” Carr said.
The E-Clinic setting enables Carr and his fellow researchers to capture data related to this research over time. “That’s one of the many research-related opportunities that the clinical model gives us,” he said. “It’s the mechanism by which questions like this can be asked and answered.”