Robert Baron found a passion with entrepreneurship.
Most notably entrepreneurs.
The Spears Business professor was recently recognized as one of the “World’s Most Impactful Entrepreneurship Researchers” in the Journal of Small Business Management.The honor is based on the number of citations attributed, which revealed Baron at No. 2 overall following a tabulation of publications in entrepreneurship journals.
Baron also received another honor when he was designated, from a list of more than 16,000, as one of the 100 most influential management authors in an article in the Academy of Management Learning and Education. The analysis in forming the list was based on the impact of scholarly work on students.
“You keep at it long enough, and you do fairly good work and it’s cumulative,” Baron said in downplaying the recognition.
His peers at Spears, however, would have none of that.
“A big congratulations to Robert Baron,” said Bruce Barringer, head of the School of Entrepreneurship.
Baron’s distinguished career has seen him work in four different fields: social psychology, industrial psychology, management and entrepreneurship.
Baron has found a home in entrepreneurship, although not without heavy influence from his other skills, fixing his focus on the entrepreneurs.
“I was trained as a psychologist, so people are my interest,” Baron said. “People, to me, are still at the heart of everything. Who makes it happen in entrepreneurship? It doesn’t happen because of markets, it happens because of people.”
While such thinking was once the outlier, Baron said he believes most have come around to an emphasis on the entrepreneur.
“I think my colleagues now agree,” said Baron, a Regents Professor, the Mike & Robbie Holder Chair in Entrepreneurship and William S. Spears Chair. “When I got into the field, there seemed to be very little interest in the entrepreneur as a person. The feeling was, if there’s an opportunity out there, it doesn’t matter who develops it.
“My answer to that is, there are opportunities out there that exist for years and decades before anybody develops them. My feeling is without an entrepreneur who takes action, nothing happens.”
Baron’s belief in entrepreneurs comes naturally – he’s lived the journey. Baron developed an air cooler with a fragrance release and a sound-cancelling system before Bose made such a concept popular. He founded a successful business, Innovative Environmental Products, an experience that helped form Baron’s passion for teaching entrepreneurship, which he’s done at OSU since 2009.
“I know it from the inside and the out,” Baron said. “I know it as a researcher, but I also did it. I did the whole thing. I ran a company for seven years. We made money every year after the first. Not enough, or might be retired and living my wildest dreams!
“I enjoyed it. It was a new experience. I had never applied for a patent. I had never invented anything and seen it actually made and sold in stores. But I’m very happy at OSU and very happy to be continuing my career here.”
Beyond teaching, Baron is a widely respected author of articles and textbooks, leading to numerous awards, including these latest two. The recognition for impacting students through his writing – he has textbooks in the 14th and 15th editions – is particularly satisfying.
“Did I have an impact on students? I like to think so,” Baron said.
As Baron surveys OSU’s entrepreneurship program overall, he said he marvels at the growth of the department.
“I think we have one of the most active programs in the country,” he said. “We have really good faculty. And we’re getting known more and more. The university should be proud of this program.”