2021 Best Undergraduate Professors: Andreea Kiss, Lehigh University

Andreea Kiss

Lehigh University

“Throughout my time with Professor Kiss during two ENTP courses, I have been able to witness her incredible ability to shape curious minds through her constant inspirational lectures, commitment to her students, and tenacious view of the world of entrepreneurship. She has an extraordinary way of explaining concepts to her students while also pushing them to be the best student they can be. She asks a lot of us and expects success, which has created many incredible Lehigh Alums.” – Cole Callahan, student

Andreea Kiss is an associate professor and the Frank L. Magee Distinguished Professor at Lehigh University where she’s worked since 2018. She currently teaches Entrepreneurship and Enterprise, and Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

She has a PhD from Georgia State University, and a BA and MA from Babes Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. 

Since joining as program director in 2018, she revamped Lehigh’s Entrepreneurship minor and designed a new track in Entrepreneurship and Innovation for the Management major. Dr. Kiss is also an accomplished researcher who publishes on the topics of entrepreneurial and managerial cognition and firm innovation. She serves on the editorial boards of several respected journals including the Journal of Business Venturing, the top entrepreneurship journal. 

“Professor Kiss is an outstanding faculty member, both in teaching and research,” Lehigh’s Department of Management Chair Andrew Ward writes in his nomination. “She inspires her students with semester-long, real live case studies and projects that immerse her students in the world of entrepreneurship and engages them with entrepreneurial companies, their founders, and the challenges they face in starting and growing businesses.”


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I was approaching the end of an 18-month corporate training program and realized that the prospect of spending my entire life researching businesses, and top managers and founders in particular, was much more appealing  to my intellectually curious mind than working the proverbial 9 to 5 job.  Although I had already worked in different types of organizations (startup, nonprofit, bank, MNE), I felt like there was a lot more to be learned, that some assumptions and observations I have gathered while working needed to be tested, and validated, and this prompted my pursuit of a PhD program in business.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? For the past few years I have been interested in understanding the managerial antecedents of innovation, in particular the role of various cognitive characteristics associated with founders and CEOs in the pursuit of radical (exploratory) and incremental (exploitative) innovation or their simultaneous pursuit. In a recently published paper, my coauthors and I empirically tested the assumption that cognitively flexible CEOs are better able to simultaneously pursue exploratory and exploitative innovation (i.e. organizational ambidexterity) because they engage in wider and more persistent information search behaviors. Ambidextrous organizations outperform other organizations. Understanding what leads to variation in ambidexterity, is a question of both theoretical and practical relevance.

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be…  UN translator, pediatrician, or a singer.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I think students enjoy the international, multicultural background and perspectives that I bring to the table. I was a nontraditional student and worked in a family business while pursuing my studies, and this might allow me to provide a better translation of abstract concepts into practically relevant issues. I am also very approachable and like to stimulate discussions on a wide range of topics related to strategy, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Nervous.

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: That balancing the demands of teaching, research, and service is a constant juggling act that does not end with tenure. In fact, it may become an even more delicate balancing act as personal, family related constraints, enter the picture. Also, those journal rejections? You never get used to the feeling of being rejected. Still stings!

Professor I most admire and why: My thesis advisor, Pamela Barr, because she gave me the freedom to pursue a research topic that was dear to me in a context that was unfamiliar to her. I have also always admired the tenacity and humbleness with which she has built an extraordinary reputation and body of research in the area of managerial cognition.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? I work with a lot of students who aspire to become entrepreneurs. Their enthusiasm and passion to change the way we work, eat, dress, or entertain ourselves are intoxicating and make me more hopeful about the future of our planet. 

What is most challenging? Overcoming their tendency to google for answers rather than use their own (creative) thinking processes to get to an answer. Some students also assume that if an answer requires too much research or the consideration of multiple perspectives, and angles, the project or the entrepreneurial idea is not worth pursuing. Persistence and tenacity are some of the most important attributes that successful future entrepreneurs and innovators need to possess, and since these attributes develop over time through exposure through a variety of life/work/school experiences, it’s challenging to develop them in a course or two.

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Engaged

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Arrogant/cocky. 

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as…Motivating


What are your hobbies? Exercising (Bodypump!), basketball, modern (“degenerate”) art, music.

How will you spend your summer? I typically spend summers in Europe (still working on research!), visiting my family, and vacationing somewhere on the Mediterranean. However, summers have been different these past couple of years and this year might also be unpredictable. 

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Mediterranean and tropical destinations are always a hit, however, I prefer destinations that also provide an opportunity to visit interesting sites, and learn more about the history and the culture of the country I am visiting.

Favorite book(s): I love Milan Kundera’s work. My favorite book is The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? I really liked Homeland (Showtime). The entire cast was outstanding but I loved Claire Danes (Carrie). I think she did an amazing job of bringing to life a strong heroine with big flaws. 

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why?

I listen to a variety of musical styles from acid jazz to classical piano, dub, and hip hop. My favorite band is Depeche Mode, the greatest electronic music band of all times, and the gateway to other electronic acts and DJs (e.g., Kruder & Dorfmeister). From the long list of interesting newer artists I like Billie Eilish and Lana Del Rey.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… First of all, a better selection process that emphasizes general knowledge (e.g., world history, geography),  foreign languages, and applied quantitative training. Requirements to master proficiently a foreign language by the time of graduation, to spend a substantial time abroad working for a company in an emerging or developing economy, but also courses that develop the student’s abilities to sift through large amounts of data, verify it, and most importantly interpret it (going beyond analytics).

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at…

Bridging the generation and technological gap between employees. There has never been a bigger discrepancy between the types of knowledge and skills that young workers bring (or lack) with them and those that older workers possess. These two groups need to mentor each other (i.e. two-way mentorship programs).

I’m grateful for… being alive and having a job that allows me to meet and work with interesting, inspiring people on a regular basis.

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