In many ways, our lives are defined by the duties we embrace and the responsibilities we shoulder. The challenge is to integrate these duties and responsibilities, not to be pulled apart into a kind of schizophrenic existence. How are we to live a good life? Oddly enough, we are often more comfortable talking about the purpose of the firm than we are the purpose of a life. Our lives are as animated by purpose as is any firm's life. Professors might do well to ask themselves what purpose animates their research, teaching, and service commitments. For me, the idea of service orients and sustains most everything I do. Done well, I think our research, teaching, and service commitments are best motivated by a desire to leave the world a bit better than we found it.
Research, teaching, and service define my professional life. Two qualities distinguish much of my work. I am fascinated by cross-level relationships: the influences between and among individuals, organizations, and society. And yes, as romantic as it may sound, I do think we are called to leave the world a better place. The desire to better understand these cross-level relationships, done with a clear eye on bettering our world, animates most everything I do.
Broadly, the study of how organizations enhance or undermine our well-being is the study of corporate governance. My research explores the purpose, responsibility, accountability, and control of the firm (and even more generally, business itself) in society. I am particularly interested in the moral foundations of business these days. With questions of accountability front of mind, I am interested in understanding the nature of - and place for - apology, atonement, forgiveness, and reconciliation in business life.
My teaching aspiration is to help our students learn to think with imagination and clarity, and yes, to lead and follow well. With good leadership and followership rooted in a person's being, knowing and doing, I am open to all kinds of teaching approaches. I am particularly drawn to action-based learning. Ultimately, we are called to service. I have always looked for ways to serve the University of Michigan and Dartmouth College, my profession, and the world.
Our research, teaching and service commitments really can leave the leave the world a better place. Here's to those better days!