Engineer-turned-small business scholar Brian Connelly wins Auburn’s best award for investigation

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Though doing work at two Fortune 500 businesses, Brian Connelly served layout the electronics deployed in airport radar systems and stage-of-sale satellite networks that are commonly employed to aid gasoline buys at the pump.

Today, the Harbert Faculty of Small business professor and David and Terri Luck Eminent Scholar in administration has almost nothing to do with technologies.

“I just can’t even determine out how to share my speak to information and facts on my cellphone, which can be embarrassing when I am chatting it up with young business owners,” joked Connelly, who has been on the receiving conclude of quite a few an eye roll when he features the particular person his business card.

What triggered Connelly’s Street to Damascus instant?

By his own account, he was coming up with a satellite program in the 1990s and experienced to get acceptance on the value from his manager. Figuring out the company was about to bid on an additional, much bigger project, Connelly’s boss suggested inflating the rate of the procedure so rivals would assume costs in the region were being significant.

“We bid ridiculously higher, and then arrived back and gained the massive job suitable afterward by beating our competitors on price,” he claimed. “That instant was when I realized: tactic trumps technologies.”

Quickly following, he went again to university and attained a Learn of Business enterprise Administration and doctorate in administration, paving the way for a go from the planet of advanced technological design to the environment of company approach.

Not long ago, Connelly received the 2022 Auburn University Innovative Research and Scholarship Award, the campus’ highest exploration honor for faculty. His award is in the fine arts, liberal arts, architecture and design, small business, social and human sciences class.

By researching corporate conduct and misbehavior, his do the job has get rid of gentle on well timed situations, these as environmental security, fiscal misconduct and customer damage. His analysis results have assisted condition general public plan, performed a purpose in creating rules and regulations and provided new theories about moral final decision-earning.

Connelly has elevated the reputation of Auburn and the Harbert School more than the a long time. His scholarly publications have been cited far more than 10,000 times, and he has presented much more than 135 invited talks at workshops, conferences and prestigious establishments all-around the earth. He currently serves as editor-in-main of the Journal of Management, which is amid the most elite tutorial company faculty journals. His operate is often referenced in media stores these as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Occasions and United states Nowadays.

“The Creative Study and Scholarship Award is a nicely-deserved recognition of Brian’s revolutionary research and potential to come across solutions that can positively effects the two the academy and the company entire world,” explained Joe Hanna, Locations Lender professor and Harbert interim dean. “All of us in the Harbert Faculty of Enterprise are very very pleased of Brian’s accomplishments and pleased to get in touch with him our colleague.”

Timely, impactful investigate

In a just lately posted study, Connelly and colleagues Miles Zachary of Auburn, G. Tyge Payne of LSU and Lori Tribble of Clemson College examined what they simply call “organizational virtue rhetoric,” that means language and narratives wherever providers espouse, and guarantee adherence to, moral benchmarks of actions. The authors located that supervisors ought to be thorough when espousing how virtuous their company is, specifically if their language is far more symbolic than substantive.

“The issue with working with virtue rhetoric is that you will need to walk your talk,” explained Connelly, who is the David and Terri Luck Eminent Scholar and professor in the Office of Management and Entrepreneurship. “If the corporation messes up and engages in poor actions, we uncovered that investor response to the misconduct will be four situations as destructive for corporations that talked a huge video game with their advantage rhetoric.

“In other phrases, top rated administrators will need to know that, if they use advantage rhetoric, they mainly elevate the bar for appropriate enterprise conduct.”

In yet another modern paper, Connelly and colleagues examined how corporate boards of administrators choose new CEOs in the wake of organizational misconduct. With each other with Wei Shi of the College of Miami, Jack Walker of Auburn and Matt Hersel of Clemson, the authors designed a principle about why, next corporate misbehavior, a board of directors could possibly replace its CEO with somebody who retains a diploma from a religiously affiliated university.

“We tested no matter if CEOs with levels from religiously affiliated institutions are really significantly less likely than other CEOs to have interaction in misconduct,” Connelly noticed. “Sure sufficient, we located they are. So, it is a distinction result. If a enterprise is dealing with corporate misbehavior, this approach of replacing your CEO with another person who analyzed at a religiously affiliated college could gain them.”

Connelly’s study is seeing nationwide acclaim. For example, two of his papers—published in 2006 and 2016—earned Paper of the Year awards from the Journal of Administration. In brief, not only is Connelly publishing in the greatest journals, he is publishing the best perform in the ideal journals.

Seeking forward, Connelly observed that his ongoing research system explores capital marketplace and general public policy developments, topics that are of significance on Capitol Hill now. For example, he is among the the 1st in the management willpower to look at the ethical consequences of small promoting.

Specially, he is investigating how CEOs reply when their firms are attacked by brief sellers, this kind of as the really general public attacks on Tesla and Herbalife. He is also at the forefront of administration exploration on meme buying and selling as he examines organizational responses to herd actions in capital markets, this kind of as what transpired not long ago with GameStop and AMC shares.

A humble scholar

“I’m grateful for the guidance I’ve appreciated from my wife and family members, who have been affected person with the several hours and electrical power that I devote to my function,” mentioned Connelly, who came to Auburn in 2008 just after earning his doctorate in management from Texas A&M University. “I bet my father-in-legislation, Franz Geyling, who handed absent a couple of decades ago, would be specially happy of this accomplishment. He was a position model for how I solution my function.”

Connelly  is also a distinguished educator, obtaining gained one particular of the campus’ highest teaching honors—the 2014 Auburn Alumni Undergraduate Instructing Excellence award—as effectively as quite a few Harbert Higher education and Office of Administration teaching awards.

He is the next Harbert college member to get the Creative Investigation and Scholarship Award. In 2018, Harbert Eminent Scholar Dave Ketchen, a professor of management and entrepreneurship, acquired the award.

“Dave meticulously and patiently mentored me given that the day I arrived on the Plains,” Connelly acknowledged, “and I realized fairly immediately that if I just followed his assistance, I would be prosperous.”

Ketchen is ranked 23rd in the country in’s listing of the best company university professors.

“I’m also grateful for David and Terri Luck, who endowed the Eminent Scholar chair that I now maintain,” Connelly added. “None of this would have been probable devoid of their generous reward that has enabled my analysis endeavors.”

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