Robert B. Couch

Assistant Professor of Finance

Image of Robert B. Couch

Contact Information

900 State Street
Salem  Oregon  97301

"In our increasingly globalized economy, specialized training is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient for success. If nothing else, we must learn from the financial crisis that there is an increasing need to be aware of how one’s particular role in an organization fits into the larger whole of that organization, and in society more generally. This is the importance of integration, and Atkinson is uniquely positioned to provide an education that gives students both specialized skills and the ability to apply those skills in an integrated way."


"Trust is critical in financial and economic transactions. This is a topic that researchers—especially in finance and economics—have not paid sufficient attention to. This is largely because trust is a topic that cuts across disciplinary lines, since trust depends on cultural norms, in addition to economic and structural factors."

"I believe that a diverse set of factors are at work in the learning process. For this reason, I am a strong believer in student classroom participation and promoting interdisciplinary thinking and discussion. So, in addition to rigorous mathematical modeling of finance problems, I also aim to cultivate skills that are more subjective by using integrated, case-based settings to discuss the role and effects of financial decisions and forces. These problems require hard, quantitative skills, but they also require a kind of subjective reasoning that often makes quant-types uncomfortable. But I think this kind of discomfiture in a class is a good thing, as it forces students to grapple with the complexity of real-world problems. Textbook concepts are useful only inasmuch as they are actually woven into the fabric of real life—it is this weaving skill that our integrated curriculum and case-based methods instills."


After majoring in economics and Russian literature at Brigham Young University, Robert Couch received his Ph.D in financial economics at Carnegie Mellon University in 2004. He then taught at BYU's Marriott School of Business until joining the Atkinson faculty fall of 2009.

"I am very excited to be at the Atkinson School because of its views on research and teaching. Here, I believe the best aspects of a liberal arts college spill over into the practical virtues of management education, in a way that creates a unique vision and educational experience that is not possible anywhere else."


  • M.S., Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University
  • B.S., Brigham Young University
  • B.A., Brigham Young University

Personal Interests

Soccer, tennis, skiing, reading, backpacking, fly-fishing, etc. I grew up in Southeast Idaho, a few hours away from Jackson Hole Wyoming, so I'm excited about living in the beautiful northwest—with magnificent forests and picturesque mountains close by, but without the cold weather!

Research Interests

Corporate Finance, Investments, Asset Pricing, IPOs, M&As, Lending Relationships, Business Ethics

Honors and Awards

Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Dean's Research Award 2013–2014, 2009-2010
Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Outstanding Faculty Research Award, 2012
Marriott School Research Grant 2004-2007
Finance Society’s Best Undergraduate Teaching Award (BYU) 2005-2006
Carnegie Bosch Institute International Management Fellowship 2002-2003
Humane Studies Fellowship 2001-2002
William Larimer Mellon Fellowship 1998-2001
Research Scholarship Award (BYU) 1996-1997

Selected Professional Activities

Ad hoc referee for:

  • Journal of Finance
  • Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis
  • Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis
  • Emerging Markets Finance and Trade
  • Review of Finance
  • Journal of Banking & Finance

Selected Publications

Published Research:

"Financing Development Stage Biotechnology Companies: RMs vs. IPOs" with Mark Ahn and Wei Wu, Journal of Health Care Finance, Fall 2011, vol. 38(1), 32-54.

"Private Investment and Public Equity Returns" with Wei Wu, Journal of Economics and Business, March-April 2012, vol. 64(2), 160-184.

"The Desire to Acquire and IPO Long-Run Underperformance" with James Brau and Ninon Sutton, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, June 2012, vol. 47(3), 493-510.

"Interest Tax Shields: A Barrier Options Approach" with Wei Wu and Michael Dothan, Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, July 2012, vol. 39(1), 123-146.

"Economy Suspended: The Possibilities of a Badiouian Business Ethics" with Joseph Spencer, Business Ethics: A European Review, October 2013, vol. 22(4), 404-416.

"Education Reform and Cross-Sector Financing: A Practice Based Approach" with Sam Brunson and Grant Matthews, in Creating Public Value in Practice: Advancing the Common Good in a Multi-Sector, Shared-Power, No-One Wholly-in-Charge World, eds. John Bryson, Barbara Crosby, Laura Bloomberg, February 2015 (CRC Press / Taylor & Francis Group), ch. 7, 129-144.

"Reverse Stock Splits in the Biotech Industry: An Effectuation Approach" with Mark Ahn, Yulianto Suharto, and Wei Wu, Journal of Commercial Biotechnology, January 2015, vol. 21(1), 3-18.

"The Virtue of Employee Governance: A MacIntyrean Alternative to Shareholder Maximization" with Caleb Bernacchio, Business Ethics: A European Review, August 2015, vol. 24(S2), 130-143.

"The Fair Value Option for Liabilities and Stock Returns During the Financial Crisis" with Wei Wu, The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance (forthcoming).

"The Fair Value Option for Liabilities During the Financial Crisis: An Option for Lemons?" with Wei Wu and Nicole Thibodeau, Journal of Accounting, Auditing, and Finance (forthcoming).

"A Payback Approach to Generational Inequity," Public Budgeting & Finance (forthcoming).

Papers Under Review:

"Are Fair Value Options Created Equal? A Study of SFAS 159 and Earnings Volatility," under review at Journal of Banking and Finance.

Selected Presentations

"The Fair Value Option for Liabilities During the Financial Crisis: An Option for Lemons?" presented at the Journal of Accounting, Auditing, and Finance conference in Mumbai, India, "Research Challenges in Accounting and Finance in a Globalized Economy: Fair Value Measurements, Valuation Models, and Management Practices" (January 2015).

"The Virtue of Employee Governance: A MacIntyrean Alternative to Shareholder Maximization" presented at the Crafts, Traditions, Ideologies: Relations Between Theory and Practice in the Thought of Alasdair MacIntyre conference hosted by The International Society for MacIntyrean Enquiry, Grand Valley State University (July 2013).

"Education Reform and Cross-Sector Financing: A Practice Based Approach" with Sam Brunson and Grant Matthews, presented at the Creating Public Value in a Multi-Sector, Shared-Power World conference hosted by the Center for Integrative Leadership, University of Minnesota (September 2012).

"The Promise and Peril of Corporate Mission Statements: A MacIntyrean-Agambenian Approach," presented at the MacIntyre as Critic and Educator conference sponsored by The International Society for MacIyntyrean Enquiry, Providence College (July 2011).

"Suspending the Economy: On Badiou’s Lack of a Theory of Political Economy" with Joseph Spencer, presented at Badiou, Business, Ethics Conference, University of Leicester (May 2011).

"The Desire to Acquire and IPO Long-Run Underperformance," Financial Management Association (October 2010), Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Sungkyunkwan University, International University of Japan, Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2009), Brigham Young University, (2008).

"Private Investment and Public Equity Returns," University of Utah (March 2007), Brigham Young University (March 2007), Carnegie Mellon University (September 2007).

Willamette University

Willamette University MBA

Salem Campus

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

Portland Center

905 NW 12th Avenue, Suite 110
Portland Oregon 97209 U.S.A.

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