Associate professor of finance Sandy Klasa has been named the McGuire Professor of Entrepreneurship, an award designed to foster academic exploration of entrepreneurship. The subject of entrepreneurship is interdisciplinary in nature, and the award will also encourage closer collaboration between Eller faculty in traditional business disciplines and the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship.
A cross-departmental faculty advisory committee reviewed research proposals and elected to fund Klasa’s project for three years; the committee also funded two other research projects.
“This award will allow me to focus time and effort on a new project that builds off research I began with my dissertation,” explains Klasa. “But it’s also beneficial to my teaching.” Klasa teaches new venture finance classes at both the undergraduate and graduate level. “One of the issues we cover in class is whether founders should agree to have professional managers run their firms,” he says. “The new project I’ve been working on is related to entrepreneurial founding families, and the factors they consider when making that important decision.”
Klasa and his research assistants have been collecting data for the project and are preparing to analyze the results to determine causal factors. “Potential explanations include the firm becoming complex beyond the family’s area of expertise, succession issues among family members, and pressure from non-founding family shareholders,” he says.
This strain of research builds off Klasa’s dissertation, which was published in the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis. In that paper, Klasa investigated what factors lead founding families to sell the controlling interest in the firms they founded. “I learned that founding families sell their controlling stakes for reasons related to optimal risk-bearing,” he explains. “I also found evidence that proved consistent with theoretical predictions that when the complexity of a firm increases beyond an entrepreneur’s area of expertise, it increases the likelihood that he or she will sell.” Klasa’s dissertation examined data from firms across industries, including New Yorker Magazine, CompuDyne, Shaw’s Supermarkets, and Champion Spark Plug.
Klasa joined the Eller College faculty in 2002, after completing his doctoral studies at the University of Oregon. The University of Arizona Foundation recognized him in 2008-2009 with the Scrivner Teaching Award. Outside of entrepreneurship, his research focuses on the effects of industrial organization on corporate financial policy decisions.