Tag: Faculty



Meet the new faculty members joining (or who have already joined) WashU Olin Business School for the current academic year.

Hossein Amini, lecturer in data analytics: Although his PhD and master’s are in industrial engineering from Kansas State and he collaborated there on studies relating to 3D printing, Amini’s research interests largely center on health care. He studies predictive analysis and machine learning in various forms of health and medicine: drug development, adverse drug reaction models and such diseases as breast cancer.

Kelly Bean, professor of practice in leadership, director of executive education: She also is a senior associate dean and holds the inaugural Charles F. Knight Distinguished Director of Executive Education. Coming to the Olin Business School from the University of Virginia, and before that Emory, USC and UCLA, Bean will work at both the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and on campus. She earned her bachelor’s in marketing and master’s in human resources at the University of South Carolina.

Samira Fazel, lecturer in data analytics: She has been a visiting professor in statistics and industrial engineering at Louisiana Tech.Fazel earned her PhD in industrial and systems engineering at Wayne State University (Michigan). She focuses on health-outcome metrics while trying to improve health-care operations through systems engineering and optimization.

Brett Green Photos Copyright Noah Berger / 2019

Brett Green, associate professor of finance: He joins Olin from the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley. An applied theorist, Green’s research  involves understanding of news and learning in markets with information asymmetries. He also studies corporate finance and sports economics. Green received a PhD in economics and a master’s in financial mathematics from Stanford, plus a bachelor’s in engineering and economics from Duke.

Emily Grijalva, assistant professor of organizational behavior: An expert on narcissism in the workplace and its links to leadership and personality development, Girjalva’swork has been published in management and psychology journals. She received her PhD from the University of Illinois. She comes to Olin from the University at Buffalo, where she was an assistant professor of organization and human resources.

Brent Hickman, assistant professor economics: Hickman comes to Olin from Queens University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Chicago. He holds two bachelor’s degrees from Brigham Young University in economics and Spanish translation, and a PhD from Iowa. His research interests include: empirical methods for models of private information; industrial organization; auctions; higher education and affirmative action.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

David Huntoon, professor of practice in leadership, senior director of military program:After a 40-year military career that included a stint as the superintendent at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the rank of Lieutenant General, He is considered one of very few to lead the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the U.S. Army War College and West Point. Huntoon moves to an instructional role as well as overseeing military students transitioning into business school. His areas of expertise include: management strategy, critical thinking, leadership and  leadership development, motivation, organizational behavior, organizational strategy, and more.

Seung-Hwan Jung, visiting assistant professor of operations and manufacturing management: Jung is an Olin PhD from 2017 who is returning after a year at Texas A&M University Kingsville. His research interests include theoretical and practical issues in supply chain management, sustainability, operations strategy, practice-based operations management and operations-finance interface. He earned a master’s in industrial and systems engineering at Korea Institute of Science and Technology and a bachelor’s in industrial engineering at Hanyang University.

Paulo Natenzon, assistant professor of economics:His journey to Olin started… across campus — Natenzon comes to the business school from Arts & Sciences, where he worked since 2011. He has published three papers since 2018 on random choice and decision making. He received his PhD in economics from Princeton, a master’s in mathematics from the Instituto Nacional de Matematica Pura e Aplicada, and a bachelor’s in economics from Universidad de Sao Paulo.

Richard Palmer, senior lecturer in accounting: Palmer returns to a Washington University where he served as a visiting professor before becoming the Copper Dome Faculty Research Fellow at Southeast Missouri State and the Lumpkin Distinguished Professor of Business at Eastern Illinois.He is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on the procure-to-pay business cycle and bank commercial card technology. Prior to joining academia, he worked in the financial services and public accounting industries for a range of clients. He received his PhD, MBA and master’s in accountancy from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

David Rapach, visiting assistant professor of finance: Rapach, who spent the previous 16 years at St. Louis University, is no stranger to Olin — he has co-authored a number of papers with Olin’s Guofu Zhou, for one. He spent eight years as a visiting scholar doing research with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Financial economics and macroeconomics are his main interests for research and teaching.He got his undergraduate degree at Randolph Macon and his PhD at American, both in economics.

Doug Villhard, professor of practice in entrepreneurship, academic director for entrepreneurship: Villhard is an Olin MBA (2014) who was named the academic director of the entrepreneurship program founded almost 12 years ago by Cliff Holekamp, who retired effective July. He is a serial entrepreneur who launched, sold, bought, advised and invested in companies. He also taught at Truman State, where he earned his undergraduate degree.

Liberty Vittert, professor of practice of data science: She is a visiting professor at Harvard for the coming academic year before she returns to her hometown and to Washington University, where she served as a visiting professor in statistics in Arts & Sciences this past academic calendar. She is a graduate of MIT as well as Le Cordon Bleu Paris and the University of Glasgow, where she earned her PhD and worked for a time. Vittert writes a column for Fox News and was a regular contributor to television in the United Kingdom.

Elanor Williams, associate professor of marketing: Consumer behavior and decision making are among her areas of expertise. Among her streams of research are the causes and consequences of mental gaps for consumers and marketers, including the distance between ourselves and other people, the past, present, and future, and between expectations and reality. Williams earned her PhD in social psychology at Cornell University and a bachelor’s at Yale; she joins Olin from Indiana University.

Song Yao, associate professor of marketing: Yao joins Olin after almost two years at the University of Minnesota and eight years at Northwestern. Previously he also was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago and Stanford. He serves on editorial boards at a handful of journals, and his research interests include quantitative marketing, empirical microeconomics, advertising, new technology, competitive strategy and customer analytics. He earned a PhD in marketing at Duke and a master’s in economics from UCLA.

Giorgio Zanarone, visiting associate professor of economics: He arrives at Olin from Madrid, Spain, where he spent the past decade at the Colegio Universitario de Estudios Financieros (CUNEF). He also has been a visiting scholar at MIT about five years after he spent time there as a visiting graduate student. He received his PhD and master’s from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. His research interests include organizational economics, strategy, and law and economics.

Minyuan Zhao, associate professor of strategy: Coming from Penn, Zhao brings with her impressive experience — she previously worked at the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota and in entrepreneurship, the automotive industry as well as a government think tank. Her research — in multinational innovation and intellectual property — examines the interactions between external environment and firm strategy, in a global context. She was awarded the 2018 Teaching Excellence Award from Penn’s Wharton School. Zhao received a PhD and master’s from New York University, a master’s from Fudan University and a bachelor’s from Xi’an Jiaotong University.




The president of an energy company was not a believer in a business entity being able to have a higher organizational purpose … until he saw it work for others. So he went back to his company and launched the initiative. It all started with a video that described the higher purpose of the company.

The company’s new video showed its people — from truck drivers to corporate officers — and described how their daily work affected the everyday life and well-being of their community, at every level.

The first workers to watch the video stood and applauded. The video captured the company’s new statement of purpose: “We serve with our energy, the lifeblood of communities and the engine of progress.”

Anjan Thakor

Businesses can have a higher purpose. More than that, they should, finds research by WashU Olin’s Anjan Thakor and the University of Michigan’s Robert E. Quinn.

An organization of higher purpose is a social system in which the greater good has been envisioned, articulated and authenticated, they write in their just-released book “The Economics of Higher Purpose: Eight Counterintuitive Steps for Creating a Purpose-Driven Organization.”

Published August 20, the book expands on the authors’ 2018 Harvard Business Review article.  For that piece, they interviewed more than 35 CEOs and other leaders over two years. And they talked with many more for the book.

“The Economics of Higher Purpose,” from Berrett-Koehler Publishers, is organized into two parts. The first examines theories that govern organizational behavior. The second shifts from theory to practice: It offers eight steps drawn from the authors’ research and interviews with leaders of higher-purpose organizations.

Practical implications

“The steps are to help leaders discover their organizations’ purpose and imbue the organization with it”, said Thakor, the John E. Simon Professor of Finance, director of the PhD Program, and director of the WFA Center for Finance and Accounting Research at Olin.

Purpose has practical implications for a company’s financial health and competitiveness, Thakor and Quinn report. People who find meaning in their work give it their energy and dedication. They grow rather than stagnate. They do more, and they do it better.

“We like to emphasize that a higher purpose is something that transcends your usual business goals, but it also intersects with those goals,” Thakor said.

“The higher purpose becomes the arbiter of all business decisions,” he said. “It has to become the lens through which every decision is viewed.”

Like all organizations, an organization of higher purpose is a cauldron of conflict. Yet people find meaning in their work and in their relationships despite the conflicts, Thakor said. They share a vision and are fully engaged.

In an organization of higher purpose, people interact with one another with respect and engage in constructive confrontation. Trust is continually repaired, and conversations are authentic. The people have a win-win mentality, and positive peer pressure emerges to support high levels of collaboration, the authors discovered. Leadership not only flows from the top down, but it also emerges from the bottom up. Employees believe they work in an organization of excellence.

The paradox

As a consequence of adopting a higher purpose, the organization often makes short-term economic sacrifices but benefits from long-term economic gains.

“The paradox of organizational higher purpose is that it actually does improve financial and economic performance but only if you don’t do it primarily for that reason,” Thakor said. If purpose is undertaken solely for economic gain, it loses authenticity and credibility, and fails to produce positive economic outcomes.

Perhaps the most important finding of the authors’ research is the importance of the authenticity. If the purpose is just a PR gimmick, like a slogan printed on posters and plastered on walls, employees will see right through it, Thakor said. “Everybody will look at it and say, ‘OK. Fine.’

“That’s very different from what we’re talking about,” he said. “This is about values you truly believe in and practice.”

Thakor and Quinn have been scholars of higher-purpose firms for a long time, and they set out to write the definitive book on it. They examined the theories that govern organizational behavior, some of which also are formally articulated in economics.

“We believe these conventional assumptions of economics are valid but incomplete,” Thakor said. “We offer a new logic that transcends the conventional assumptions and includes them.”

They show that higher purpose helps to resolve the classic principal-agent problem at the heart of microeconomics. They also explain why numerous books and articles on higher purpose have failed to gain traction in the workplace.

From theory to practice

How to bring this theory to practice? Here are eight counterintuitive guidelines, which are drawn from their research and interviews with leaders of higher-purpose organization:

  • Envision a purpose-driven organization
  • Discover the purpose
  • Meet the need for authenticity
  • Turn the higher purpose into a constant arbiter of all business decisions
  • Stimulate learning
  • Turn mid-level managers into purpose-driven leaders
  • Connect the people to the purpose
  • Unleash the positive energizers

“Although a higher purpose does not guarantee economic benefits, we have seen impressive results in many organizations,” Thakor said. “Our study and other research suggest positive results, both in operating financial performance and performance measurement.”

So purpose is not just a lofty ideal. It has practical implications for a company’s financial health and competitiveness, according to the book. Allowing people to find meaning in their work means they can grow, do more, do better. Tap into that employee empowerment, and you can transform an entire organization.

This article is partially excerpted from the book “The Economics of Higher Purpose.”




A WashU Olin professor has been honored with a certificate of “recognition and sincere appreciation” from the government of Madagascar for her contributions and the development of the Mahabo region where she’s worked with students for more than a decade.

An official from the country’s federal government made an arduous, hours-long journey from the nation’s capital of Antananarivo to recognize Judi McClean Parks in May while she was working with yet another class of students.

The certificate Parks received from the Malagasy government.

Since 2007, Parks has worked on projects in collaboration with the Missouri Botanical Garden, projects designed to guide remote Malagasy citizens to create sustainable solutions to everyday problems that affect their lives while protecting the region’s ecology.

Parks, Olin’s Reuben C. and Anne Carpenter Taylor Professor of Organizational Behavior, said she was grateful for the recognition from the Malagasy government.

‘My heart and soul’

“To me personally it means a lot. This class is literally my heart and soul,” Parks said. “This is my ‘heart’ course. It’s the one that gives me the right to explain myself when I meet St. Peter at the pearly gates. It validates the work we’re doing.”

The course takes as many as 20 students to a remote corner of the island nation each May to work with Malagasy residents. The projects stem from issues the residents themselves raise, and some have been revisited for further development and refinements from year to year. More than 160 students have participated.

The projects derive from a careful drill-down to discern the root cause of a larger issue. For example, Malagasy women might say they want healthier children—a problem too broad to tackle. By drilling down, Parks and the students discover that poor nutrition, a slow-growing crop (rice) and a long “season of death” (with nothing to harvest) underpins the core issue.

Ultimately, they realize a program of field enrichment could help Malagasies address the core of issue of sickly babies. (Read about another example—Project Period.)

“The projects do spread, but they spread slowly,” Parks said. “We let people adopt or not adopt projects we bring to them.”

The garden connection

The botanical garden connection stems from the ability of Olin faculty and students to help the Malagasies develop sustainable solutions to their problems without stripping bare the resources of the rich flora and fauna in the region. Parks works closely with Armand Randrianasolo, a Madagascar-born PhD botanist from the botanical garden who is now a US citizen.

Parks said she was deeply honored by the government’s gesture and humbled by the way they presented it.

“They were very proud to be presenting it in English,” she said. “And they wrote the whole certificate in English so it would be for me.”

The presentation came at the same time the students presented their projects to the Malagasies they hoped would adopt their solutions.

“It was validating because it felt for so long that this was an isolated program,” Parks said. “I don’t want to diminish what the students get out of it. They can have the experience of actually helping someone and seeing how the largest portion of the world actually lives.”




Medicare Part D is a rock star in the policy world. The prescription drug plan is considered a role model for publicly financed, privately provided social insurance programs. 

The idea: Leverage competition to provide high-quality services at low costs to consumers and to the government. Doing so requires the government to subsidize costs. Yet how efficient is Part D’s design for setting those subsidies?

Stephen P. Ryan

In a new study, WashU Olin’s Stephen P. Ryan and co-researchers discovered something they say surprised them: Part D’s setup actually inhibits insurers from seeking higher subsidies from the government. It keeps subsidies in check by virtue of the way it’s designed, although that may have been a happy accident.

More on that in a bit.

The researchers first set out to understand how the market works.

“What is the interaction between the rules of the subsidy mechanism, insurer behavior and consumer demand?” asked Ryan, professor of economics. “That’s basically the triangle that we were interested in.”

A quick primer

Medicare is a public health insurance program covering elderly and disabled people. Most people become eligible when they turn 65 and are automatically enrolled in insurance for inpatient and outpatient services. If they decide they want coverage for prescription costs not included in their plan, they can buy a policy under Part D.

Or they can opt out of traditional Medicare and switch to a private Medicare Advantage (MA) plan for bundled coverage—including prescriptions. MA plans are privately run, publicly financed alternatives to government-run Medicare.

The government launched Part D in 2006. Medicare contracts with private firms to sell the coverage, and it regulates and subsidizes those firms. To get the coverage, which is optional, beneficiaries must buy a policy.

Part D is a rapidly growing market that accounts for about one-fifth of federal spending on Medicare, or about $100 billion a year. Consumers bear a fraction of the cost, about 15 percent, because of premium subsidies and risk-equalization programs. 

Works like a voucher, despite ‘convoluted structure’

The researchers chose Medicare Part D as their laboratory for a couple of reasons. It has clear rules that allowed them to model a variety of experimental scenarios for insurance firms. Plus, it has strong data on potential customers and the choices available to them. 

Through testing different structures, they learned that “the present program, despite its convoluted structure, actually works very much like a flat voucher program,” Ryan said. 

Vouchers often perform better than proportional subsidies. That’s mostly because they preserve some elasticity of demand while still allowing policymakers to sort between prescription drug plans, Ryan and his co-researchers report. 

Demand elasticity is important because it helps firms model potential change in demand due to changes in the price of a good, the effect of changes in prices of other goods, and many other market factors. If the demand for a good is more elastic, in response to changes in other economic factors, companies must use caution when raising prices.

This, in turn, leads insurance firms who sell Part D plans to keep their bids competitive, minimizing the cost to taxpayers. 

Broad implications

The researchers’ findings have broad implications for the design of privately provisioned, publicly subsidized social insurance programs. Traditionally, the US government has provided social insurance programs directly to Americans. But in the past 20 years, efforts have accelerated to move such programs to private markets.

Part D’s design “mutes,” or inhibits, insurers’ efforts to get higher government subsidies because of the complex way it ties together prices for numerous, distinct parts of the program into one “subsidy mechanism.” (That mechanism sets the public funding to private insurance firms.)

“The current mechanism actually did a pretty good job,” Ryan said.“But it is probably not entirely by design, as the subsidy could have been too high or low relative to optimal. It turns out that a combination of all the forces come together to produce something actually not too far from an optimal voucher. It was surprising when we computed that.”

The researchers also learned that insurers’ competition for low-income enrollees kept incentives low for insurers to seek higher subsidies. In addition, tying the subsidy to prices in the related Medicare Advantage prescription drug market—where premiums are typically zero—also kept subsidies stable.

Consumer demand depends on high subsidies

High government subsidies “almost exclusively” drive consumer demand for prescription drug program plans, according to Ryan and co-researchers Francesco Decarolis of Bocconi University and Maria Polyakova of Stanford University School of Medicine.

“Consumers have very low willingness to pay for unsubsidized plans, driven by the availability of close substitutes,” they report. 

In fact, they found that Part D “is efficient only if we account for the fact that the government would likely subsidize the same consumers outside of the (Part D prescription) program as well.” 

The researchers report their findings in “Subsidy design in privately-provided social insurance: Lessons from Medicare Part D,” forthcoming in the Journal of Political Economy.

The research paper provides new evidence that contributes to the emerging academic and policy discussion of the subsidy mechanism. 

“This helps us inform policymakers when they’re thinking about setting up these kinds of subsidy mechanisms in other areas,” Ryan said. 




A consultant inflates his hours so he’ll be paid more. Will his dishonesty later affect whether he’ll be able to tell when his client is pleased or upset? 

Ashley Hardin

In a word, yes, according to a newly published paper by four researchers, including WashU Olin’s Ashley E. Hardin.

Dishonest deeds diminish a person’s ability to read others’ emotions, or “interpersonal cognition,” the research found.

And here’s one of the other big findings: The consequences snowball. One dishonest act can set in motion even more dishonesty.

“It can be a vicious cycle,” said Hardin, assistant professor of organizational behavior. “Sometimes people will tell a white lie and think it’s not a big deal. But a decision to be dishonest in one moment will have implications for how you interact with people subsequently.” 

Repercussions in the workplace

It’s no surprise that liars and cheaters can hurt the workplace, as well.

“Given the rise of group work in organizations, there’s a heightened awareness of the importance of understanding others’ emotions,” said Hardin, assistant professor of organizational behavior. Also, a person’s ability to read emotions is crucial in negotiations and in building relationships. 

Dishonesty has repercussions beyond harming trust and one’s reputation if others become aware of it, according to “The interpersonal costs of dishonesty: How dishonest behavior reduces individuals’ ability to read others’ emotions,” in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Lying and cheating is “not only is financially costly (e.g., in the case of stealing from a company or increasing the risk of costly lawsuits) but also can harm interpersonal relationships through a particular channel: individuals’ ability to detect others’ emotions,” even when those others are not the victims of the wrongdoing.

Eight studies involving 1,500+ adults

Hardin’s areas of expertise are organizational behavior, team development and negotiation. She conducted the research with Julia J. Lee, of the University of Michigan, Bidhan Parmar, of the University of Virginia, and Francesca Gino, of Harvard University.

In all, the researchers conducted eight studies involving more than 1,500 adults to gauge lying and cheating in various scenarios. The findings support the following:

  • A connection exists between dishonest behavior and one’s ability to accurately read and empathize with others’ emotions.
  • Bad actors are less likely than others to define themselves in terms of close relationships, for example as a sister or a mentor.
  • Dishonest behavior leads to damage downstream; the first transgression is a catalyst to dehumanize others and perform even more dishonest acts. 
  • People who are more socially attuned are less likely to behave dishonestly.

“When individuals are lacking their physiological capacity for social sensitivity, they may be more susceptible to the social distancing effects of engaging in dishonest behavior,” the researchers write.

‘Dynamic tension’

The findings fundamentally challenge views that lump morality and empathy into a single construct, Hardin said. Social psychology research has long argued that empathy is a moral sentiment that triggers prosocial behavior. But empathy toward others can also lead employees to cross ethical boundaries.

Consider a 2010 study by WashU Olin’s Lamar Pierce and Gino, of Harvard. The research was in the context of vehicle emissions. Employees helped customers with standard vehicles, as opposed to luxury cars, by illegally passing the cars on emissions tests. The results suggested that empathy toward others with a similar economic status can motivate dishonest behavior. Basically, the findings highlighted the importance of social context in ethical decision-making.

“Our work adds to this dynamic tension between dishonesty and empathy by showing … that one’s empathic accuracy can be affected by the specific psychological state produced by one’s dishonest behavior,” Hardin and her co-researchers write.




Ron King and Stephen Ryan.

I wanted to share about exciting career milestones for two of our faculty members, Ron King and Stephen Ryan

Professor Ron King has been a member of the Olin faculty since 1986 and is a highly respected and accomplished teacher and researcher. Since 2003, Professor King has served as the Myron Northrop Professor of Accounting where he contributed actively to the body of research in field of accounting.

Ron King

A few months back, Ron approached Vice Dean Todd Milbourn and me to share the news that while he would like to continue teaching in Olin’s Executive MBA Program, he would like to relinquish his chair to focus more of his energies on his entrepreneurial pursuits in the St. Louis startup community.

While at Washington University, Professor King has taught accounting courses in the undergraduate, MBA, and masters of accounting programs, and has held various administrative positions including senior associate dean of faculty, senior associate dean of programs and the director of the Center for Experiential Learning. Ron received the Distinguished Faculty Award at Washington University’s Founder’s Day in 2012. He received his PhD from the University of Arizona.

Given the importance of entrepreneurship to Olin’s strategic plan and also the St. Louis ecosystem, I am delighted that Ron will be employing his considerable talents to build businesses and make our city more economically vibrant. I am also pleased that he will continue to teach at Olin, as he is one of our very beloved teachers as well as a distinguished researcher.

Stephen Ryan

At the same, time, I am excited to recognize the contributions and research leadership of Stephen Ryan, professor of economics, by appointing him as the next holder of the Myron Northrop Professorship. Professor Ryan received his PhD in economics from Duke University in 2005 and joined Olin in 2016.

The Myron Northrop Professorship was established with a gift from Mr. Northrop’s estate in 1989. Born in Oklahoma and reared in Little Rock, Arkansas, Mr. Northrop spent most of his career at A.S. Aloe Surgical Supply Company of St. Louis. He received a bachelor’s in business administration from Washington University in 1926.

We join in thanking the Northrop Family for their support for Olin faculty research. We also congratulate Ron King on this new phase in his career and Stephen Ryan for his accomplishments. We will be in touch with plans for a formal installation ceremony for Professor Ryan in the 2019-20 academic year.