2017 Top 40 Undergraduate Professors: Patricia McDougall-Covin, Indiana University (Kelley)

Patricia McDougall-Covin

William L. Haeberle Professor of Entrepreneurship and Faculty Director, Institute for International Business

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

Patricia McDougall-Covin is a trailblazer. She is widely recognized as an early pioneer of the study of the international entrepreneurship. In 2004 she–along with a co-researcher–received a Decade Award from the Journal of International Business Studies, which recognized her paper on the phenomenon of international new ventures as the most influential body of research over the previous 10 years.

A former Associate Dean of Faculty and Research and Chair of Kelley’s Management department, McDougall-Covin is currently director of the school’s Institute for International Business. She has also designed and teaches multiple travel courses at IU Kelley. Her popular “Kelley in Oxford” summer course explores issues in cross-cultural management while students are in residence at Oxford University (UK). More recently, she developed and taught two additional travel courses: Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development in Costa Rica and Doing Business in Croatia and Montenegro.

Professor McDougall-Covin has received several teaching and research recognitions from both Indiana University and the Kelley School, including the university’s Trustees’ Teaching Excellence Recognition Award and Kelley’s Full Professor Research Excellence Award.

Age: 69

At current institution since: 1999

Education: PhD, strategic management, University of South Carolina, 1987

List of courses you currently teach: Cross Cultural Management and Global Business Immersion with Travel to Croatia and Montenegro

Fun fact about yourself: I enjoy fly fishing

“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…” I helped my Dad in his business while he was recovering after being injured in a kitchen fire. I was in high school at the time. I recognized then that I understood and enjoyed business.

“If I weren’t a business school professor I would be…” Running a plant nursery

“One word that describes my first time teaching…” Challenging

What do you enjoy most about teaching undergraduate business students? The courses that I teach are all part of the Kelley School’s international travel experiences. International education is highly valued at the Kelley School with over 60% of Kelley students have an abroad
experience during their undergraduate experience. This past year I traveled with students to Croatia and Montenegro and led a student group to Oxford University. The experiences thatcome with traveling and living with students abroad are some of my most treasured teaching
experiences as I get to know the students well and can impart not only course knowledge but a strong sense of professionalism.

What is the biggest challenge that comes with teaching undergraduate business students? The responsibility that comes with the opportunity to teach students at a transformative time in their lives—what happens in your classroom may result in a life changing career decision, so it is
a huge responsibility.

What is the most impressive thing one of your undergraduate students has done? In one of my overseas classes, I had a student who would inappropriately leave the group and would go off on his own. For his contributions to his team project, his teammates evaluated him
poorly. He was a very smart student but did not realize how his actions were creating a negative impression. I met with him and had a candid conversation. He took my developmental feedback to heart and continued to seek my guidance. The following year, he enrolled in the School’s overseas experience in South Korea and his transformation was truly impressive—so much so that he earned a Kelley “coin” for excellent leadership. His success has continued, and I am very proud of him.

What is the least favorite thing one has done? I am always sad when I see a student smoking

What does a student need to do to get an A in your class? Just as a successful person in business has to perform well on multiple dimensions, an A in my class requires a student to perform well on multiple dimensions—not just on exams. A student must also excel on an individual research project, give a presentation, demonstrate appropriate contribution to their team project (as defined by their teammates), contribute to a positive learning environment in the classroom and demonstrate a high level of professionalism.

“When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as…” A professor who provides clear expectations of the requirements and expects them to be fully engaged in learning.

“But I would describe myself as …” Hopefully I describe my approach to grading in the same way that students perceive it

What are your hobbies? Reading (particularly mystery novels), gardening, fly fishing, enjoying nature

How did you spend your summer? Taking a group of students to Oxford University, vacationing in the GA/NC mountains and working on behalf of the Kelley School of Business Institute of International Business in China.

Favorite place to vacation: Montana

Favorite book: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Favorite movie and/or television show: The Big Bang Theory

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: Country—Johnny Cash

Bucket list item #1: Glacier National Park

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Early in my career my co-author and I were awarded the Decade Award by the Journal of International Business Studies for the article having had the most significant impact on international business research during the previous decade. Our article is credited with creating the field of international entrepreneurship and as having changed the conversation in international business from an exclusive focus on large multinational firms to a focus that includes young, entrepreneurial firms as well.

What is your most memorable moment as a professor? My most memorable moment as a professor occurred when I first realized that I was a role model for many of my female students. I felt both the opportunity and the weight of that realization.

Professor you most admire and why: The professor that I most admire is Idie Kesner, who is the Dean of the Kelley School of Business. Idie is like a conductor orchestrating the class session, yet it all feels completely natural. She has a special skill of being able to pull out intelligent comments from the shyest student. I particularly admire Idie because she is so generous in sharing her classroom insights and materials. She has been instrumental in helping me be a better teacher.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I research the accelerated internationalization of entrepreneurial firms. Early in my career, I published an article on new venture firms that were international at inception or early in their existence. Prior to that article, international business scholars focused on large, multinational corporations and common wisdom was that entrepreneurial firms did not internationalize until after they had established themselves domestically. My research is credited as having changed the conversation in international business research from a focus exclusively on large, elephant firms to a broader conversation that includes entrepreneurial, gazelle firms.

Twitter handle: Do not have one

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…” Financial aid for students

“And much less of this…” Undeserved guilt for promoting capitalism

Looking ahead 10 years from now, describe what “success” would like for you: Looking ahead 10 years I will be retired, and I hopefully will have time to broaden my description of “success” to include more time spent with family and friends and in helping those around me,
particularly young people seeking to expand their horizons.

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