2021 Best Undergraduate Professors: George P. Ball, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University

George P. Ball

Kelley School of Business, Indiana University

“With research focus on product recall, Professor Ball has been a recipient of two multi-million-dollar federal grants that seek to improve the Food and Drug Administration’s ability to predict pharmaceutical product quality problems. Professor Ball’s recall research has been used to shape federal inspector policy to identify problematic manufacturing plants for both the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).” – Vijay Khatri, Associate Dean for Information, Instructional Technologies & Academics

George P. Ball, 49, is Associate Professor of Operations and Decision Technologies at Indiana University Kelley School of Business where he’s taught since 2015.

He has a PhD in Supply Chain and Operations as well as an MBA from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. He also has a BS in Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. He currently teaches Honors Operations Management.

Dr. Ball is the recipient of numerous awards, both from Indiana University and by academic disciplines, including the Jack Meredith Best Paper Award by the Journal of Operations Management (2019). His research in product recall causes and effect, FDA regulatory policy, and other topics has been published in various high-level journals including Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, Journal of Operations Management, Management Science, and others.

He is winner of Indiana University’s 2019 Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, the most prestigious campus-wide award for pre-tenured faculty and intended to recognize IU’s most promising candidates. He also won Indiana University’s Trustees Teaching Award in 2018 and the Alpha Kappa Psi Teaching Excellence Award in 2016, 2017, and 2019.


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… In 2009, I was a director of manufacturing at a large medical device company. I had been in medical device operations management for 10 years since leaving the Navy. In November of 2009, my firm sent me to a three-week live-in executive education program at a top business school. I already had an MBA, so I was not that interested in the class, and I asked multiple times for my firm not to send me, as it was a $30,000 program, and since I had an MBA, I didn’t see the point. However, I spent the entire time observing the faculty and wondering if I could do what they did, and whether I might enjoy it. While I was there, I emailed a professor friend at the school where I got my MBA. I asked him questions about becoming a professor, and he was very encouraging, although he politely admitted I was a bit old to start my PhD (I was 36 at the time). He believed I could do it. If it wasn’t for him, I would not be a professor. I truly believe I am where I belong, and I absolutely love teaching and research. 

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I research product recalls across all industries, with a particular focus on medical device and pharmaceutical recalls. I have been fortunate to work with a great set of co-authors. One of the discoveries I am most excited about is related to gender and product recall decisions. My co-authors Katie Wowak, Dave Ketchen, Corinne Post and I have a published paper that shows that as firms add women directors to their boards, the firms make significantly faster product recall decisions for the most harmful product defects. So gender diversity at the highest levels of firm leadership help improve product recall decisions. I love this finding because it matches with my experiences in business in which I was a part of numerous recall decisions. 

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… Before I became an operations manager in medical device companies, I was an officer in the Navy. My last role was in operations on my ship, and one of my collateral duties was the ship’s intelligence officer. Consequently, for a time, I wanted to be in the CIA. I actually interviewed with the CIA and they invited me to D.C for a follow-up interview, but I declined. My wife and I decided that it wasn’t the life for us. I was leaving the Navy so we could spend time together as a family and raise our kids without so much separation. She was right, of course. 

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I have three kids that are all in their college age years. I try to treat my students as I would want my kids’ professors to treat them. I suppose that makes a difference. I also try to teach a lot of business leadership. I spent many years in leadership positions in business and in the Navy, and so I like to share my experiences with my students, as many of them will be business leaders in the very near future. 

One word that describes my first time teaching: Excitement

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: I wish I knew how great this job was a long time ago. I would have gotten my PhD much sooner. 

Professor I most admire and why: Art Hill at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. He was the professor I called and asked if he thought I could get a PhD and become a professor. He was so supportive, in many ways, I owe my faculty career to him.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? They are intelligent, inquisitive, hard-working and have serious goals. 

What is most challenging? I teach honors students, and all my students are incredibly smart. Giving a student a low grade is probably the hardest part of my job. 

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

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student:  Absent

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


What are your hobbies? Spending time with my amazing wife and three awesome children. They are my best hobby. 

How will you spend your summer? Working from home and getting time with my college kids home for the summer.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Great Smoky Mountains and Rome, Italy

Favorite book(s): The Hobbit, or the Bible.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? The new version of “All Creatures Great and Small” on PBS. It’s just a wonderful story about real life problems and people. 

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? A band called Skillet. They are a pretty wild band with a great message, and I’ve seen them live with my kids several times. 


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Small classes where students and professors can get to know each other well. The relationships with the students are important in my opinion, and large classes make that challenging. 

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Encouraging dissention. Group think is toxic to firm success, or any organizational success.

I’m grateful for… My family

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