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Management doctoral students get data 'shot in the arm'

Dr. Jun Xia, Amanda Pozzuto, Curtis Sproul and Andrew Carnes.

Three management graduate students got good news in June.  They learned that their application to the Kauffman Foundation for data on business startups had been granted.

During the past year the management Ph.D. students have been studying aspects of resource dependence theory with Dr. Jun Xia, assistant professor of management.

The theory seeks to explain how external resources of organizations and businesses affect outcomes.  For businesses, this is important in determining strategic and tactical issues in management. The theory was first widely noted with the 1978 publication of The External Control of Organizations: A Resource Dependence Perspective by Jeffrey Pfeffer of Stanford University and Gerald Salancik of Carnegie Mellon University.

Hoping to test a hypothesis within the backdrop of this concept, Curtis Sproul, Amanda Pozzuto, and Andrew Carnes needed data on young businesses that supply goods and services to the United States government.

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a non-profit foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri, had exactly what they needed. However, it would cost $100 per week with a six-month minimum commitment, which comes to exactly $2,400.

The foundation does offer its data for free to researchers who are working on projects that match the organization’s goals of fostering “a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, contributing to the improvement of their communities.”
Sproul wrote a proposal and received access to the data—free.

“This data was the absolute best to get,” he said. “If we had not been awarded access, we would have had to look elsewhere, though. We weren’t sure if we’d get accepted.”

Dr. Matthew Marvel is the College of Business and Economics Coffman Chair of Entrepreneurial Studies. He helped edit Sproul’s proposal.

“The Kauffman Firm Survey (KFS) data is the single most comprehensive longitudinal study of entrepreneurs available,” he said. “This represents a great opportunity for our Ph.D. students, and I commend them on their initiative. A good deal of credit is also due to Dr. Jun Xia for his guidance and support with their proposal to the Kauffman Foundation, which was developed within his research seminar.” 
Marvel said that not only did the students gain important theoretical knowledge from the course, but they also have a rich dataset from which to work as they progress. They hope to have the paper that results from the research endeavor published by next year, Sproul said. 

Jun Xia teaches undergraduate classes in strategic management and global business communication. Previously, he was an assistant professor at Montclair State University. Xia has published in Strategic Management JournalOrganizational Research MethodsManagement International ReviewWorld DevelopmentJournal of Small Business Management, and Journal of Business Research. He received the Best Paper Award at the Proceedings of 2004 Academy of Management Annual Meeting.

“I have read the theory part of this (the students’) paper,” he said. “The theory is interesting, and I believe it will have a good opportunity to be published in a top tier journal.”

Dr. Xia’s research interests include resource dependence theory, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, alliances, international entry strategies, boards of directors, business groups, bankruptcy, IPOs, state-owned enterprises, corporate social responsibility and institutional changes in transition/emerging countries.

To fill a void in data collection on young businesses in the United States and to foster new understandings of how various factors influence entrepreneurial outcomes, the Kauffman Foundation created the KFS—the largest longitudinal survey of new businesses in the world.

The KFS began with a cohort of nearly 5,000 firms that began operations in 2004. This cohort is tracked annually and asked an extensive set of detailed questions that cover a range of topics such as the background of the founders, the sources and amounts of financing, and firm strategies, among others.

Carnes is from Gastonia, N.C. He earned an undergraduate degree from Western Carolina University and a Master of Science in Industrial Relations degree from WVU. Amanda Pozzuto is from Irwin, Pa., and earned an undergraduate degree and an MBA from Clarion University. Curtis Sproul is from Ohiopyle, Pa., and earned an undergraduate degree from WVU and an MBA from Waynesburg University.