Research & Impact

Research & Impact

In the Willamette MBA program, faculty and students engage in academic research and projects that impact real organizations and have consequences in the real world.  Browse the topics below to learn more about current projects and faculty members who have been quoted in the popular press.

Research Projects

Lisbeth Claus


What’s an ounce of prevention worth?

Professor Lisbeth Claus envisions the future of Human Resources.
A court transcriber from a New York firm took a nasty fall in the shower of his Toronto hotel.
A French executive was kidnapped and held for ransom in Colombia.
The daughter of an Australian employee on assignment in Jakarta contracted dengue fever.

What exactly is a company’s obligation when it sends employees and their families overseas on assignment?

That question has launched Lisbeth Claus Ph.D., SPHR, GPHR, Professor of Global HR at Willamette University, and the 2003 President of The Global Forum, the international division of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), farther to the front of the world stage.
Modern origin story.

[Read More]

Henry Bi


3.4 in a Million – Applying Lessons From Greatness

The Six Sigma program saved Motorola over $16 Billion in the 1980s. General Electric reported savings of $12 Billion over the first five years of its implementation. Today, organizations of all sizes and industries seek practitioners who can help them attain the lauded performance of a mere 3.4 defects per 1,000,000 opportunities.

At Willamette, the system of quality management methods is taught by Henry Bi, Associate Professor of Operations Management and Information Systems.

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Fred Thompson


Salem Revolution: How One Organization Plans to Modernize Oregon’s Government

No one disputes that our government needs to evolve. That’s where the consensus stops.

The newly formed, non-partisan Institute for Modern Government (IMG) seeks to change that. By drawing on academic and professional resources, the IMG studies and supports public organizations facing today’s operational and management policy issues.

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Mariann Bradshaw

Market Research For The Real World

Contributing professor Marianne Bradshaw unifies experiential learning with community service.

“It’s not enough to know how to conduct strong market research; you have to understand why you’re doing it. What are the objectives of the research? How will the research impact decisions? What data will help guide that action?”

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Gary Knight

Drop By Drop - Studying The Next Wave Of Globalization

As global management evolves, Dr. Gary Knight examines the emerging majority.

Having authored six books and 40 refereed articles in academic journals, it will come as no surprise to learn that Dr. Gary Knight, Professor of Global Management and Helen Simpson Jackson Chair in International Management, was ranked in the six leading international business journals as one of the top 15 most prolific scholars in the United States, and one of the top 30 worldwide.

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Faculty News

How Angels Can Enjoy The Best Returns -- Financial And Otherwise
Forbes (2014: Sep 4)

"Let’s start with the largest study and what we can learn from it to enhance financial returns.  Rob Wiltbank, CEO of software company Galois and professor at Willamette University, collected data on exits – good and bad – from hundreds of angels in the Returns to Angel Investors in Groups.  The study found that the overall return for the 1,100 plus exits in the dataset was 2.6 times the invested money in 3.5 years, or about 27% gross Internal Rate of Return."


Ringold shares insights on the value of private, liberal arts education
Oregon Business (2014: Aug 26)

"Research finds that high quality liberal arts colleges are committed to practices repeatedly demonstrated to produce positive student outcomes. These are:  frequent student-faculty interaction;  frequent student-student interaction;  generous expenditures on student services;  a strong faculty emphasis on diversity;  frequent use of interdisciplinary and humanities courses; frequent use of courses that emphasize writing;  frequent use of narrative evaluations;  infrequent use of multiple choice exams;  frequent involvement of students in independent research; and frequent student involvement in faculty research."


Educating angels: How a local university is building the next generation of entrepreneurs
Portland Business Journal (2014: Aug 20)

"While the latest funding round for PayRange included a number of big names, one of the lesser known investors may be the most interesting.

Included in the round was the Willamette University Angel Investment Fund, a fact that was pointed out to me by fund advisor Rob Wiltbank, who himself is a noted angel investor and researcher.

What makes this angel investment fund stand out is its members. It consists of 14 second-year MBA students in the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University. The fund has been around for six years and has a portfolio of 20 companies."


The Great Lakes: Home to 'South Bay Bessie' and some of the most active angel investors in the country
Inc.com (2014: Aug 7)

Robert Wiltbank, a contributing associate professor at Willamette University, who worked on the report, says it's too soon too tell if the spike in Great Lakes deals is a one-time phenomenon or the beginning of a trend. But he does say some angels in the region did some "really solid, co-invested deals" with early-stage venture capitalists this time around, in both the medical devices and the technology industries.


Fred Thompson: Do You Really Think the DOD Spent $140 Billion to Protect the Lowland Gorilla?
Oregon Economics Blog (2014: July 9)

Why doesn’t the US government just pay for vaccine research for diseases prevalent in the 3rd world? It does, but its budget is limited. Moreover, in most instances vaccination programs aimed at diseases for which vaccines now exist are far more cost effective than the development of new vaccines. “A systematic review of the literature on the cost-effectiveness and economic benefits of vaccines in low- and middle-income countries conducted by IVAC was published in the December 17, 2012 issue of Vaccine. The review identified 108 relevant articles from 51 countries spanning 23 vaccines. Among the 44 articles that reported costs per QUALY saved, vaccines cost less than or equal to $100 per QUALY in 23 articles (52%) and less than $1,000 per QUALY in 38 articles (86%).” (Ozawa et al.)


Fred Thompson: Some Modest Suggestions For Fixing Oregon’s Property Tax System
Oregon Economics Blog (2014: June 17)

Thanks to a series of initiatives and referenda during the decade of the 1990s, primarily Measure 5, enacted in 1990, and Measure 50, enacted in 1997, Oregon has acquired a one-off property-tax system, which emphasizes stable growth in tax payments and inter-jurisdictional uniformity in tax rates. The system seems to be somewhat popular. At least the property tax no longer consistently tops the worst-tax list in local polls. Nevertheless, the prestigious City Club of Portland, after a year spent studying property taxes, concluded that “the current Frankentax has got to go” and proposed to restore the property tax system that was in effect in 1990, with some major modifications.


The role of higher education as K-12 underperforms
Oregon Business (2014: May 30)

"...since 1970 the performance of our public education system has steadily deteriorated. By 2009, 26% of the nation’s high school seniors performed at or above “proficient” on the US Department of Education’s 12th-grade mathematics assessment. That same year, 38% of the nation’s high school seniors performed at or above “proficient” in reading. In 2011, 24% of high school seniors were deemed at or above “proficient” in writing. Nonetheless, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, about two-thirds of all high school graduates enroll in undergraduate programs."


Fred Thompson: Capitalism Is Biased In Favor Of Capitalists I (Part II)
Oregon Economics Blog (2014: May 19)

Certainly, recovery from war and depression, as well as deep structural factors related to demographics and technology, help explain the burst of rapid economic growth following World War II. Nevertheless, it is a mistake to account for the mid-20th Century period of shared growth exclusively in terms of large, impersonal economic forces. Politics and institutions also mattered. Indeed, I would argue that the political and economic arrangements of the postwar era were qualitatively different from those that preceded and followed it and that this distinctive set of policies profoundly influenced the pace and content of economic development and the subsequent distribution of income, consumption, and wealth.


Ringold shares passion for education
Oregon Business  (2014: Mar 4)

I am an educator because I am committed to informed political, policy, production, and consumption decision-making. I graduated from a public high school and earned my B.A., M.B.A., and Ph.D. at public universities.  For those opportunities, I am grateful. I have taught in a major public research institution, a public city university serving primarily first generation college students and two private universities.


Letter to the Editor: Value of AACSB International Accreditation
Oregon Business (2014: Mar 1)

Like our peer AACSB accredited institutions, Willamette University MBA graduates earn more than a diploma. We form lifelong relationships with our graduates and support them in their pursuit of meaningful careers. It is important that readers understand all of the important attributes associated with an MBA and other graduate programs.  AACSB accreditation is certainly one of those attributes.


City Club of Portland research says 'Frankentax' on property needs to be overhauled
The Oregonian (2013: Nov 7)

"But Steve Maser, professor emeritus of public policy and management at Willamette University and the lead writer of the report, said the state’s odd system is putting downward pressure on local governments that could choke funding for basic services in the future.

'Political decisions are often driven by crisis,' Maser said. 'It’s not there yet. But you can anticipate that it’s going to get there and then action would have to be taken.'"


"New tech incubator set for launch in Portland"
Portland Business Journal (2013: Oct 30)

"Founder Institute, which first launched in 2009, has graduated more than 1,000 companies in 60 cities across the world. It matches mentors with idea-stage companies and allows participants to keep their day jobs during the program. According to founder and CEO Adeo Ressi, nearly 50 percent of Founder Institute graduates have gone on to land angel investment to continue building their companies.

Portland's chapter of Founder Institute will be co-directed by Willamette University's Wade Brooks and Andrew Beldin of Revenue Capital Management."


 "A quiet trip to the ozone hole"
The New York Times (2013: Oct 21)

Edward J. Warnock, an aerospace engineer and contributing professor at Willamette's Atkinson Graduate School of Management, is the chief executive of the Perlan Project. The nonprofit organization is building a glider, Perlan II, to study the stratosphere at close range.


 Robert Wiltbank honored with 2013 Hans Severiens Award
Angel Capital Association (2013: Apr 19)

"Dr. Wiltbank is associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship for the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University in Salem, OR, and an active angel investor.

'Rob Wiltbank’s contribution is unique in the world of angel investing,' said Marianne Hudson, ACA executive director. 'He is an angel investor, founder of funds, professor and mentor to future entrepreneurs, and he has researched and written two of the most comprehensive and widely consulted reports on investments by angels in groups.'"


 Oregon's gender pay gap slightly smaller than national average
Statesman Journal (2013: Apr 11)

"Ashley Nixon, a professor of Human Resources and Organizational Behavior at Willamette University, said there’s no question the wage gap does exist — instead, it’s a question of what causes it.

'Do we attribute it to discrimination against women or are there other factors to consider?' she said. 'When we do analysis, we find women make 80 percent of what men do, and there are some well-known differences that account for some of this disparity.'"