The Business of Partnership

In just three words, Dr. Jon Carr, Jenkins Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Poole College of Management, makes clear how he feels about being a part of NC State: “I’m all in.”

Carr’s affinity for North Carolina dates back 30 years to when he was stationed in the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg, and he’d always hoped for the chance to return to the state. The opportunity came in 2016, when he joined the faculty of the Poole College’s Department of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It has been a natural fit ever since.

“The fact is, I come from a land-grant background,” Carr said. “I was at Mississippi State for many years. The idea of being able to come back to a land-grant university is very important to me. It’s about engagement, it’s about outreach, it’s about connecting to the community – these are all things I am very comfortable with, so being able to come to NC State was very appealing to me.”

The Jenkins Distinguished Professorship – one of three faculty positions in the Poole College endowed by 2018 Watauga Medal recipient Benjamin P. “Ben” Jenkins III – has helped propel Carr’s research, which focuses on entrepreneurship, family businesses and organizational behavior. He is particularly interested in micro-topics regarding entrepreneurs themselves: how they interact with their firms, how their perceptions or decision-making styles influence how they manage their start-ups, and their company’s long-term success.

“It’s very difficult to get data about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial firms,” Carr explained. “It’s not something you can just download off the internet.” Such data, which is instrumental in building out a strong research program, sometimes must be purchased from other sources. “We’ve used [Jenkins professorship resources] to help do that.”

We is a word that Carr uses frequently, a fact that is not lost on him. “I say we because I view the Jenkins support as something that supports all of us when possible, in our department and in our college,” he said.

Being named to a distinguished professorship is a meaningful recognition of a scholar’s achievements, and holding such a position enables professors like Carr to focus on “thinking and doing big” rather than spending time and energy trying to procure funding and resources. He is committed to leveraging the resources the Jenkins professorship provides into expanding the scholarly activities of his department, including bringing faculty and doctoral students from other schools to NC State to participate in research projects. In addition, several faculty members at other universities have visited NC State’s Entrepreneurship Program, to include the Entrepreneurship Clinic, and taken the concepts and ideas that drive the model back to their own institutions.

The professorship will also help fund Carr’s upcoming travel to visit peer universities, where he will share how the Department of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship conducts research, how the Entrepreneurship Clinic and Entrepreneurship Alliance use engagement models of learning, and how those models can help collect data about entrepreneurial firms. The opportunity to exchange ideas is a key to building collaborative partnerships and showcasing NC State’s research, he said.

Carr’s work illustrates that philanthropy makes a difference long after a gift is made. The Jenkins Distinguished Professorship of Entrepreneurship provides critical discretionary funding and impacts teaching, research and service. Coupling this support with the Entrepreneurship Clinic’s engagement approach ensures that students learn about the entrepreneurial process and participate in data collection projects, while also providing them with opportunities to engage with entrepreneurial and established firms as potential future employees.

Endowed faculty positions are critical to recruiting and retaining top professors who engage, mentor and inspire their students. Increasing these professorships is a key priority of the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign.

“It cannot be emphasized enough how valuable — how incredibly valuable — the support we get from our alumni and friends is,” Carr said. “We see Think and Do the Extraordinary as a critical part of what we’re about, and the support we get from [donors] and our industry partners helps make that happen. They’re key part of our success.”