Entrepreneurship plays a role in the Kellogg
School classroom, where professors use innovative methods
to keep their lessons engaging
By Matt Golosinski
Entrepreneurial passion runs deep at the Kellogg
School, and not simply among the students. The Kellogg administration
has always embraced cutting-edge strategies that make the
school a perennial leader in management education. In addition,
Kellogg School professors consistently demonstrate exemplary
dedication in their teaching and research.
The result is a rich, entrepreneurial culture
that produces leaders who are creative risk-takers, yet grounded
in disciplined analysis.
"One of the defining characteristics
of Kellogg is its willingness and ability to think ahead of
prevailing market conditions," says Kellogg School Dean
Dipak C. Jain. "We embrace continuous change that delivers
strategic advantages for our students."
Kellogg World recently spoke with
several Kellogg professors about their teaching, and learned
how these thought leaders turn their intellectual passions
into engaging classroom lessons.
Kellogg World: How do you
approach teaching so that you keep the material fresh for
yourself and your students?
Daniel Diermeier, the IBM Professor
of Regulation and Competitive Practice, and the 2001 L.G.
Lavengood Professor of the Year: I connect my teaching
to ongoing developments in the business world. In my area
of expertise [strategic management in nonmarket environments],
this is fairly easy since nonmarket issues are extensively
covered in the media. I also encourage my students to share
their professional experiences in having to deal with these
Robert Kozinets, assistant professor
of marketing, and a 2001-02 Sidney
J. Levy Teaching Award
recipient: In terms of style and substance, I
try to combine my passion for music, film and entertainment
what I teach in courses such as Entertainment Culture and
Marketing. Bringing in media tools, including film, to
convey practices and events — like new product development
or interesting subcultures that teach us about consumption
and marketing — is something I'm increasingly implementing.
I constantly update everything in my course. That's challenging,
but it means the course is always brand-new.
Anne Coughlan, associate professor
of marketing, and a 2000-01 Sidney J. Levy Teaching Award
recipient: I try to revamp my course every time I
teach so that I don't get stale doing it. This past year,
I wrote two new cases and assembled a new module for my Marketing
Channel Strategies course. It's a lot of work, but it keeps
things current and interesting.
Karl Schmedders, associate professor
of managerial economics and decision sciences, and the 2002
L.G. Lavengood Professor of the Year: My students
have told me that I succeed in the formidable task of making
the core statistics course relevant and entertaining. I do
try to bring a high level of enthusiasm and personal commitment
to my work, making myself accessible to my students whenever
KW: What Best Practices do
you believe help you excel in the classroom?
Kellogg School Dean Dipak C. Jain,
the Sandy and Morton Goldman Professor of Entrepreneurial
Studies, and a recipient of the 1994-95 Levy Teaching Award:
I approach teaching with a religious devotion, rather than
look at it as simply a job. A special goal for me is bridging
theory and practice so that the lessons we impart in the Kellogg
classroom effect real-world results. One of the strategies
I employ is using compelling, and updated, case studies in
my work, and then challenging my students to think through
the complexities of these materials. By remaining current,
and by turning to real-world examples, we can better engage
our students and generate passion for the intellectual journey
that will make them great leaders.
Christie Nordhielm, assistant professor
of marketing, and the 2003 L.G. Lavengood Professor of the
Year: I encourage my students to challenge me in
the classroom. This is the best way to look for gaps in my
teaching. Many students are afraid to voice contrary opinions,
but you can be sure they are thinking them. By encouraging
students to challenge me, I run the risk of not having an
answer to a question. But as soon as the students realize
we are not in an oppositional relationship, but rather working
together to explore a problem, the tenor and progress of the
class improves radically.
Karl Schmedders: I try to
balance the demands and high expectations that I place on
my students with a good sense of humor. I think I'm able to
explain statistics to "non-math" people because
I have had to work hard to understand the material myself,
and so I can better relate to the student trying to learn
the material. One of the "philosophical" frameworks
that I bring into the classroom is the value I place on intellectual
curiosity. I want Kellogg students to value this kind of curiosity
too — and not think that everything they learn must
always immediately be applicable tomorrow. Sometimes things
can have inherent intellectual beauty.
Sunil Chopra, the IBM Distinguished
Professor of Operations Management and Information Systems,
and a recipient of a 2002-03 Chairs' Core Course Teaching
Award: I expend a lot of energy on preparation. My
preparation focuses on looking at material from the students'
perspective and asking, "How will they use the lessons
when they leave class?" The better prepared I am to answer
this question, the better I do in class. I also love student
interaction. My best classes are those where I'm not the only
one speaking, but where we've created a conversational dynamic.
Daniel Diermeier: I strive
to have the students involved in collectively discovering
the solution to a problem, and allow for a broad, free-flowing
discussion while ensuring that everyone understands the key
learning point of the exercise.
KW: How do you view the interplay
between your teaching and research?
Christie Nordhielm: I try
to be sensitive to all opportunities to bring insights from
one arena into the other. Sometimes it works and sometimes
it doesn't, but I never assume that something I do in my research
might be too esoteric for my students. Or that the challenges
my students face are too practitioner-oriented for the issues
to be interesting from a theoretical standpoint.
Anne Coughlan: Research and
teaching feed each other. I've found research ideas in cases
and lectures that I've taught. A great example is the Tweeter
case, one about an electronics retailer that offers a particular
form of price-matching guarantee. It's hard to disentangle
where the academic research and the interaction with MBAs
starts and ends. That's a nice thing.
Daniel Diermeier: I incorporate
both into my classroom on a regular basis. Research provides
concepts and frameworks; consulting provides complexity and
KW: What's the most challenging
hurdle to maintaining your creativity as a teacher, and how
does the Kellogg community help you meet this challenge?
Robert Kozinets: Creativity
takes time, and it also means taking risks. Fortunately, at
Kellogg we have a fantastically supportive atmosphere. The
entrepreneurial environment here means faculty and students
are given a lot of opportunities and resources to succeed.
I find that others here are amazingly receptive to innovation.
Sunil Chopra: My biggest
challenge is ensuring that I am not overloaded in terms of
my commitments, so that I maintain the time to improve the
content and delivery of my material. At Kellogg, I really
enjoy the interaction with my colleagues and the students.
We have a wonderful relationship among the various stakeholders.
Working collectively with my colleagues — a rarity in
other places — we have really improved our Operations
offering, and I've certainly learned a lot in the process.
Daniel Diermeier: The diversity
of our students in terms of their cultural and industry backgrounds
can prove challenging. I try to meet the challenge by including
examples from different countries and many industries. What
makes my job enjoyable is our students' enthusiasm and their
willingness to learn. My favorite moments as a teacher are
when a student tells me: "I can't look at the newspaper
anymore without thinking of your class. It has fundamentally
changed the way I view business."