How a Liberal Arts Education Inspires Entrepreneurial Thinking

Gordon has long enjoyed a culture where new initiatives match new ideas. And scholarship anchors both. From the Institute for Public History and Global Education programs to green chemistry research and theatre productions,  the ethos of the  liberal arts tradition and a Christian world view fit easily with entrepreneurial thinking. So when Carter Crockett, an entrepreneurship scholar and social entrepreneur, joined the faculty this fall as the director of Gordon’s new Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, he knew he’d come to the right place.

Crockett’s goal is to merge novel concepts with noble practices across disciplines, and his background has uniquely prepared him. After graduating from Westmont College in 1992, he worked as a marketer among technology companies in Seattle as well as with some of the most innovative companies and products in the world. He left Microsoft to serve as Co-founder/President of Dealer Trade Group, a wholesale (B2B) marketplace for trading vehicles online. As co-founder of Karisimbi Partners, Crockett and close friends worked to build up promising ventures in Rwanda, where client companies are a symbol of national growth and sustainability, and they established a high impact model for social enterprise in frontier economies. With a Ph.D. in Entrepreneurial Ethics, Crockett returned to Westmont as a tenure-track faculty member of Economics & Business and has taught entrepreneurs on three continents.

He sees Gordon as an academic incubator for entrepreneurs in the making. Here’s what Crockett said about his new role:

“Entrepreneurship is inherently practical, personal, cross-disciplinary and relevant, and so this creative endeavor serves to compliment and extend the core of the liberal arts in important and marketable ways. Clearly, not everyone is an entrepreneur, yet already Gordon’s faculty members have inspired our talented students to put ideas to flight and create their own opportunities. To encourage more of these passionate, enterprising students, the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership is creating a new cross-department minor and will host a campus-wide Social Venture Competition this April. I see entrepreneurship as a natural extension of a liberal arts community, one that seeks to elevate its contribution to the world in new ways that reflect God’s creativity and Kingdom.”

New Book on Economic Growth Addresses Poverty

For almost 10,000 years of recorded history, most people had to eke out a living in pain and difficulty. What was once the global norm, today’s deep poverty is almost entirely foreign to citizens in the developed world. What’s been the impact?

Stephen Smith, professor of economics, Bruce Webb, emeritus professor of economics, and their colleague Edd Noell of Westmont College, answer that question in their new book, “Economic Growth: Unleashing the Potential of Human Flourishing.” Published by AEI Press as part of its Values and Capitalism series, the authors offer “empirical evidence from the past two centuries showing the relationship between growth and human well-being, greater global income equality, and environmental improvements and sustainability. They make the case that economic growth is key to lifting societies from dire poverty to prosperity and holds the promise of sustaining unreached levels of human flourishing.”

The Case for Economic Growth and Winter Discussions

Even during the winter break, professors were interacting with colleagues in their field. Many from the English and Language and Linguistics departments attended the Modern Language Association conference in Boston.

Stephen Smith

But some, like Stephen Smith, professor of economics and business, flew across country to San Diego, CA.  Smith, along with Bruce Webb, retired professor of economics and business and Edd Noell of Westmont College, organized a session entitled, “The Case for Economic Growth: Where Does the Modern Debate Stand?” for the Association of Christian Economists during the American Economics Association conference, January 4-6. Here’s what Smith said about the session, which he chaired:

“We were pleased that the room was packed with more than 65 attendees.  Each of the participants spoke on a particular dimension of the current debate about economic growth.  Ben Friedman of Harvard University—who literally wrote the book on morality and growth, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth— argued from a secular point of view that the conventional wisdom that growth poses a choice ‘between material positives and moral negatives’ is fundamentally mistaken.

“Rather, he maintained, growth makes tolerance, democracy and other civic virtues more likely to emerge where they have been absent, and more likely to strengthen where they already exist. Bob Nelson of the University of Maryland expounded on the tensions between (some) environmentalists and economists on growth, which he argues are rooted in contending worldviews about the status of the environment.

“These worldviews, though secular, are fundamentally religious in nature.  Paul Glewwe of Oxford University assessed the empirical record of how and to what extent growth improves welfare in poor countries; interestingly, some kinds of social indicators, such as infant mortality, seem much more positively related to growth than do others, and while there is a consensus amongst economists that growth helps the poor achieve higher welfare the specific mechanisms by which this occurs are hard to estimate precisely.  Finally, Edd Noell assessed the moral arguments for and against growth in rich countries, paying particular attention to recent Christian critiques of growth.  He argued that growth is on balance desirable and can be defended in Christian ethical terms.  His comments drew heavily from our new book, with Bruce Webb, Human Flourishing: The Case for Economic Growth, which is forthcoming this February from AEI Press.  Before the end of the session some lively Q&A ensued and we were glad to have been able to address this important topic in this way.”

Summer Scholar: Smith Presents New Data on India at U.S. International Trade Commission

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of stories exploring what Gordon professors are up to in between semesters.

Dr. Smith goes to Washington. Again. In early June, Stephen Smith, professor of economics & business, was invited to speak on a panel at the American Enterprise Institute. On July 23, he traveled to the nation’s capital to present new research at the U.S. International Trade Commission. Along with long time collaborator, Michael Anderson, the Sadler Professor of Economics at Washington and Lee University, and their new co-author Jose Signoret of the USITC’s Office of Economics, Smith discussed their findings regarding India’s export sector. Theirs is the first study to examine the behavior of Indian firms, whose behavior should shed light on whether findings based on U.S., European or Chinese firms should be considered universal. Below is the introduction to their paper:

Export Prices of Indian Firms: An Examination of Market and Firm Characteristics

By Stephen Smith, Michael A. Anderson and Jose Signoret

       “How do firms matter in international trade?  This has been the focus of intense interest in the international economics literature for close to two decades, and much has been learned.  Exporting firms are different from non-exporters—they are larger, have higher productivity and capital intensity, and pay more, among many sharp and now empirically well-established contrasts.  A flurry of work in trade theory that explores firm heterogeneity, particularly with respect to productivity differences, has accompanied this empirical work.[1]

         Much of the evidence comes from studies using firm-level data from the United States on trade and output.  One of the most provocative findings in this literature is that the well-known gravity model result that trade volumes decline with distance arises because of distance’s effect on the extensive margin—that is, because many firms drop out of trade at high distances rather than because all firms trade less.  For firms that trade, the average value of trade per product per firm rises with distance (Bernard and Jensen 2007, 122-3). Continue reading

Summer Scholar: Dr. Smith Goes to Washington

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of stories exploring what Gordon professors are up to in between semesters.

Dr. Stephen Smith, professor of economics and business, took four of his students June 6–9 to a conference entitled “Purpose & Prosperity” in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).  Smith was asked to speak on a Friday morning panel entitled, “The Morality of Wealth,” and is pictured here on that panel, far left. Other  issues addressed at the conference included social security, feminism and freedom, economics and the crisis of family, and financial cycles and human prosperity. Here’s some of what Smith said about the experience:

“The AEI’s conference hosted approximately 75 college students from across the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, with approximately 25 faculty, drawn mostly from the social sciences.  This year’s student attendees from Gordon were Joy Jeon, Julia Marra, Rusty Hawkins, and Jordan Frank. 
I would have been pleased enough to go to the conference with these excellent students. But I was delighted when they invited me to be part of a panel debate on the ‘Morality of Wealth.’ I argued that one of the compelling moral arguments in favor of economic growth is its efficacy at raising the poor out of absolute poverty.”

Financial Theories Beyond the Classroom

John Truschel, Casey Cooper and Alice Tsang.

Three faculty  with extensive corporate experience recently brought their expertise out of the classroom and into several special workshops sponsored by Career Services for Gordon students. Adjunct professor  John TruschelAlice Tsang, associate professor of Economics and Business and director of Asian Initiatives at Gordon; and Casey Cooper, assistant professor of Economics and Business and managing director of the Center for Nonprofit Organization Studies and Philanthropy, discussed strategies for successful careers. The workshops were part of a series entitled, “From Gordon to the Workplace,” sponsored by Career Services to better prepare students to enter the job market.

Truschel emphasized that doing the basics well is often what captures the attention of supervisors and sets an employee apart from other employees. He said “the cumulative effect of consistency,” that is, doing good work consistently, would win the notice of others and promotions would likely  follow. Reflecting Christian virtues, he said, should be evident in that good work, i.e., honesty, discretion, character, etc. Tsang observed that many court the favor of superiors but are not as courteous to peers and subordinates. A lack of respect and courtesy to others often hurts workers seeking advancement. She encouraged students to focus on adding value to the company through their work rather than simply focusing on salary increases but reminded students that compensation does not tell the whole story. Mentoring others in the workplace will makes employees more valuable to the employer. Cooper exhorted students to be successful in the workplace by “being adults” and taking responsibility for their actions and performance, in part by finding their strengths and using them as a guide to serve their employers well.

The three also discussed how to create new approaches for routine tasks, weigh the availability of employer funded educational benefits along with the sacrifice of time and energy that study will require, and increase career options by building savings while developing time-management skills. All agreed that building relationships with other professionals through networking is essential to advancing one’s career.

Lessons from History on Integrating Faith and Business

To learn how to merge our faith with our careers, we need to look back to some of the country’s first business people, according to Kent W. Seibert, professor and chair of economics and business. Seibert’s latest publication, an article in the fall issue of The Journal of Biblical Integration in Business (volume 14, fall 2011) entitled, “Living Integration: Faith of our Fathers—Contemporary Lessons from Historical Christians on Integrating Faith and Business” (found on page 73 in the PDF here), draws on the wisdom of early Christians in the U.S. and given direct application for today. Here’s Seibert’s abstract of his article:

“Efforts to integrate faith and work have existed for as long as people have followed the God of the Bible. Christian businesspeople of today have much to learn from the experiences of their forbearers. One particularly instructive community is the Quakers of eighteenth century America, particularly those who led the whaling industry based on Nantucket Island. This paper examines Quaker whaling practices in light of five principles central to the Quaker faith: work is ordained by God, the purpose of business is service, the dignity and equality of all human beings, peacemaking, and steadfast convictions. Connections to contemporary business practices are made throughout the paper, and it concludes with several challenges to current Christians in business who desired to live lives as fully integrated as their Quaker forefathers seemed to live.”

New Faculty: Andy Moore

In preparation for the start of the 2011-2012 academic year, Faculty Central will highlight the new members of the full-time faculty over the next few weeks.

MooreAndy Moore joins the department of economics and business this year as an associate professor. He earned his B.S. in Administration/Accounting from California State University, Los Angeles (1975), his M.S. in Management from Troy State University, Camp New Amsterdam (1984), and his M.S. in Biblical Counseling from Philadelphia Biblical University (2003). Andy is a C.P.A. in Texas and Pennsylvania. He has fifteen years adjunct teaching experience, most recently with Eastern University in Pennsylvania teaching in their undergraduate and graduate programs. His long and varied business experience includes time with Global Marine Drilling Co. with over four years living and working in the Netherlands and seven months in Scotland. Andy was a manager at Pritchard, Bieler, Gruver & Willison, P.C., a C.P.A. firm; CFO of the Regency Foundation, an affiliate of Philadelphia Biblical University; and Director of Administration and Finance of Geneva College’s Center for Urban Theological Studies.

New Faculty: Alice Tsang

In preparation for the start of the 2011-2012 academic year, Faculty Central will highlight the new members of the full-time faculty over the next few weeks.

Alice TsangAlice Tsang joins the faculty of the economics and business department this semester as an associate professor. Alice earned her B.A. in English/Translation from the University of Hong Kong and her M.B.A. in Finance from the Stern School of Business at New York University.  Alice has a wide variety of experience in the business world, having worked as an assistant vice president at E.F. Hutton & Co. and Merrill Lynch, and a vice president at MBIA, Inc.  She also served as a fixed income analyst at Fidelity Investments for fifteen years.  Alice joined the part-time faculty at Gordon this previous academic year, teaching courses in marketing and financial management.  During this upcoming year, in addition to her teaching duties, Alice will also serve as the Director of Asian Initiatives, working collaboratively with Admissions and Development on recruitment and donor relations in Asia.

New Faculty: Andrew Stuart

In preparation for the start of the 2011-2012 academic year, Faculty Central will highlight the new members of the full-time faculty over the next few weeks.

photo_2011_03_23_03_53_33Andrew Stuart joins the department of economics and business this year as an assistant professor. Andrew earned his B.A. in Accounting and Business Administration at Gordon College in 2001 and his M.B.A. from the Whittemore School of Business at the University of New Hampshire in 2009. He spent three years working in the audit division for PricewaterhouseCoopers, while also obtaining his C.P.A. license. After leaving public accounting, Andrew has spent the last seven years working in higher education, first as the Accounting Manager for the University System of New Hampshire and most recently as the Director of Budgeting and Financial Planning at Gordon.