Over 300 University of Washington Foster School of Business undergraduate and MBA students studied or interned abroad last year.  These photos and short descriptions are a small taste of the transformative educational experiences these students have each year.  The UW Global Business Center held a competition for the best student photos in two categories: Foster Abroad and My Global Lens.


1st Place Foster Abroad: Hitchhiking in George Town

Experience abroad: Jeremy Santos, Foster School Exchange Program at the National University of Singapore.  Studying and living abroad gave me the opportunity to see, hear, and taste new things. The experience knocked me off my feet!”


2nd Place Foster Abroad: Dawg Pack in Prague - Our program contributed to the Lennon Wall in Prague by spray painting a W and showing our Husky spirit abroad.

Experience abroad: Jessica Gardner, UW CHID Program in Prague.  “I spent 10 weeks studying abroad in Prague and visiting surrounding areas learning about how different groups and countries learn about history and how this represents who they are today. I immersed myself in Eastern Europe culture and felt that I gained a greater appreciation for different cultures and discovered how I want my business career to be internationally focused.”


1st Place My Global Lens - The Last Potter: This man was the last potter in his village, as his only son pursued a different career. I love how his grin shows how proud he is of his work!

Experience abroad: Alexandra McCarthy, Foster School Exploration Seminar in India.  “Studying abroad in India was nothing short of amazing. I absolutely fell in love with the people and the culture. From their colorful clothing to breathtaking temples, India is by far one of the most beautiful countries I’ve been to.”


2nd Place My Global Lens – A Man and His Dog: It’s not every day that you get to wander through the mountains of Northern Spain. Even more rare is meeting this man who has lived in a stone hut in the mountains his whole life, swapping stories over the cheese he makes from the cows that roam nearby, using smiles to convey what my broken Spanish could not.

Experience abroad: Bonnie Beam, Foster School Exchange Program at the University of Navarra in Spain.  “My time abroad has been challenging, awkward, hilarious, embarrassing and most importantly, has opened my eyes to things I would have not seen otherwise. I have been humbled by how much I have to learn and am extremely grateful for every single person who has taken the time out to teach me something new; from teaching me a simple phrase to showing me how to play pádel to divulging the secret to making the perfect roscillas, I am a better person because of it all and I owe it to the lovely citizens of Pamplona. I have realized that I will never stop learning as long as I continue in humility and take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.”

See all photos submitted for the contest. Judges included over 40 faculty and staff members. Learn more about MBA and undergraduate study abroad opportunities at the Foster School.

The “King of Cruise”

Stan-McDonaldFoster School alumnus Stanley McDonald—known as the “King of Cruise”—has died at the age of 94.

McDonald graduated from the University of Washington in 1943 with a business  degree and a manifest entrepreneurial spirit. Though his resume includes the building of successful  real estate and construction businesses, he was best known as the founding father of the American cruise ship industry. His novel idea of using a cruise ship as floating hotel to serve tourists arriving for Seattle’s 1962 World’s Fair turned into Princess Cruise Lines—a pioneering company that perhaps most famously served as seafaring set of the long-running television series “The Love Boat.”

For his many contributions to the Northwest economy, McDonald received the Foster School’s Alumni Leadership Award in 2004.

According to the Seattle Times, McDonald’s family has requested that gifts in his honor be directed to the Foster School or the Stellar Club at the Swedish Medical Center Foundation.

Great Reads: Behavior & Business

We asked Foster School faculty members to weigh in on their favorite books in the area of behavior & business—that is, the motivations of consumers, employees, investors and organizations. Here’s what they said:

Thinking Fast and SlowThinking, Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman)

“Kahneman summarizes years of cognitive psychology and behavioral economics research on how the unconscious and conscious mind duke it out when a decision has to be made. He argues that too often the conscious—meticulous collector of information—gets overwhelmed and defers to the unconscious—intuitive snap-judgments based on emotion, memory and heuristics. If you’ve ever thought about thinking and thinking better, it’s a must read.”

-Vandra Huber, Professor of Human Resources Management

Give and TakeGive and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success (Adam Grant)

“Using his own groundbreaking studies, Grant reveals that most people operate as takers, matchers or givers.  Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return, and who achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries. This book is brimming with life-changing insights while proposing a revolutionary approach to success.”

-Xiao-Ping Chen, Professor of Management, Philip M. Condit Endowed Chair in Business Administration, Chair, Department of Management and Organization

Re-imagine!Re-imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age (Tom Peters)

“This book seriously expands upon the thought that ‘change is the only constant in business today.’ A very provocative read that strikes a nerve and forces you to accept change rather than irrelevance.”

-Jack Rhodes, Lecturer of Marketing, director of the Sales Program

Influence: The Psychology of PersuasionInfluence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Robert Cialdini)

“A scholarly yet easily accessible perspective on persuasion.”

-Shailendra Pratap Jain, Professor of Marketing, James D. Currie Professor of Marketing, Chair, Department of Marketing and International Business


Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to LeadLean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (Sheryl Sandberg)

“A potential game-changer for the participation and empowerment of women in the workplace.”

-Shailendra Pratap Jain, Professor of Marketing, James D. Currie Professor of Marketing, Chair, Department of Marketing and International Business


Higher Aims to Hired HandsFrom Higher Aims to Hired Hands: The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise (Rakesh Khurana)

“Articles critical of business schools and the formal study of management continue to proliferate. This book offers exceptionally thoughtful perspectives that caused me to rethink some of my assumptions and reconsider how the future of business education could be crafted. The book carefully explores what management study was meant to be and can be,  how and why business schools evolved to where they are in the present, and what needs to happen for business education to develop the great business managers and leaders we need in the future.”

-Dan Poston, Assistant Dean for Masters Studies

The No Asshole RuleThe No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t (Robert Sutton)

“I like this book a lot not because of the title but in spite of it. For me it is a strong reminder that there is much more to organizational citizenship than dong one’s job. Each day we have an opportunity to impact positively those around us… their work lives, their satisfaction, their productivity, and—ultimately—the organization’s overall ability to achieve its mission and fulfill its vision.”

-Dan Turner, Principal Lecturer in Marketing, Associate Dean for Masters Programs, Faculty Director, Technology Management MBA Program, Peter and Noydena Brix Endowed Faculty Fellow

Made to StickMade to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive While Others Die (Chip Heath & Dan Heath)

“This book provides six factors that make an idea memorable and persuasive, or ‘sticky.’ It is relevant to anyone who wants to effectively communicate their ideas.”

-Ann Schlosser, Associate Professor of Marketing, Evert McCabe Fellow

Weird Ideas That WorkWeird Ideas that Work: How to Build a Creative Company (Robert Sutton)

“Sutton writes a clever, easy-to-read and evidence-based book on hiring, managing and encouraging creativity in companies. Plus, it’s fun to read; it made me laugh.”

-Tom Lee, the Hughes M. Blake Endowed Professor of Management, Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs

Talent is OverratedTalent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else (Geoffrey Colvin)

“Do great performers possess an innate talent that enables them to outperform others or do they achieve excellence through a specific kind of hard work called ‘deliberate practice?’ In its attempt to answer this question, Talent is Overrated provides entertaining anecdotes and a bit more scientific evidence than its more popular counterpart, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.”

-Frank Hodge, the Harrington Family Endowed Professor, Chair, Department of Accounting

Brain RulesBrain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School (John Medina)

“People spend time figuring out how their cars or cell phones works so that they can better utilize their features. Most do not do the same with their brains. This book will help you understand in simple terms how your brain works so that you can get the most out of it.”

-Frank Hodge, the Harrington Family Endowed Professor, Chair, Department of Accounting

The Boys in the BoatThe Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (Daniel James Brown)

“This one of the great stories that most of us have never heard, regarding an amazing collection of men who came together to achieve what most people would have said was impossible. The story is engaging, and it covers many important principles relevant to becoming truly effective teams and extraordinary people.”

-Bruce Avolio, Professor of Management, Mark Pigott Chair in Business Strategic Leadership, Executive Director, Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking

Predictably IrrationalPredictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (Dan Ariely)

“Ariely introduces behavioral economics into our daily lives, showing where we go wrong and offering practical advice on how to counter our partially innate tendencies to behave irrationally.”

-Stephan Siegel, Associate Professor of Finance and Business Economics, Evert McCabe Faculty Fellow

The Hour Between Dog and WolfThe Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust (John Coates)

Before he became a noted scientist, Coates ran a derivatives trading desk on Wall Street. In this new book, he demonstrates how our bodies produce “gut” feelings, how workplace stress can impair our judgment and damage our health, and how sports science can help us toughen our bodies against the ravages of stress.

-Stephan Siegel, Associate Professor of Finance and Business Economics, Evert McCabe Faculty Fellow

The Righteous MindThe Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Jonathan Haidt)

“Haidt is an NYU professor who discusses the research on values in ethics. Readers come away with a good understanding of how people who have different values from themselves make moral judgments.”

-Christopher Barnes, Associate Professor of Management

The Honest Truth About DishonestyThe Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves (Dan Ariely)

“Ariely discusses the research literature of behavioral ethics, focusing on why people are often dishonest.”

-Christopher Barnes, Associate Professor of Management


Liar's PokerLiar’s Poker (Michael Lewis)

“Before Flash Boys and The Big Short came Liar’s Poker, Michael Lewis’s first book. In it, he provides a colorful look inside Wall Street trading floors of the 1980s. It isn’t about behavioral finance, but it is about the (mis)behavior of some finance practitioners.”

-Jennifer Koski, Associate Professor of Finance, John B. and Delores L. Fery Faculty Fellow

Foster School students win 2nd place at BYU Business Language Case Competition

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Saya Kashiwamura, Janet Yang, and Gail Letrondo represent the University of Washington at the 2014 Brigham Young University Business Language Case Competition in Provo, Utah.

Although belated, the Global Business Center would like to extend an enormous congratulations to Janet Yang, Gail Letrondo, and Saya Kashiwamura who won 2nd place in the Chinese track of the BYU Business Language Case Competition on November 7th.

The Brigham Young University Business Language Case Competition is a unique opportunity for students to showcase their business acumen and foreign language skills by analyzing a real-life global business problem, and presenting their solution to a panel of judges made up of international business professionals in a non-native language.

These three young women competed against teams from prestigious universities across the country. They did an outstanding job analyzing the case and presenting their solution – in Mandarin Chinese! Judges were impressed by the insightful and innovative problem solving and detailed financial reports presented by the University of Washington team.

EMBA Skamania 2014

EMBA stuents arrive at Skamania The Executive MBA experience kicks off each fall with a five day residential program at Skamania Lodge on the Columbia River east of Portland. Away from the distractions of daily life, first year students immerse themselves in intensive instruction, collaborative projects and bonding with their fellow students. Here are some snapshots of this year’s residential session, with comments by students on the value of the experience, including a challenging class with the inimitable Charles Hill, Professor of Management & Organization and the faculty director of the EMBA Program.

Students studying at Skamania

EMBA students networking at Skamania

“The rapid pace of learning at Skamania was outstanding. The professors provided ample material to read, contemplate and absorb in preparation for five consecutive days of class. During the daily sessions, students were required to recall significant portions of the assigned material to examine precepts of micro economics, finance and leadership.”

EMBA student presentations

Professor Charles Hill in the classroom

“Charles comes at you as-advertised – fast and intense – with questions requiring that you to not only read the assigned material, but also to think deeply about it.  This deep thinking will get you about 60% of where you need to be.  From there, you have to take a deep breath, sit on the edge of your seat and lean into it.  Fortunately, the intensity of Charles’ class session is matched by his love of teaching and fair approach.  It won’t hurt too badly.”

EMBA study groups

Charles Hill

“The intensity at residency was unreal. Long days, amplified by classroom encounters with professor Charles Hill out of Scared Straight resulted in a searing educational experience. I’ve never learned more in a shorter time period. The fear of failure in the classroom quickly dissipates as everyone participates, and gets not-so-politely corrected by professor Charles Hill.”

EMBA student presentations

Charles Hill

“There were three constant thoughts that ran through my head while at Skamania and in the Charles Hill hot seat:

  1. No matter what you do, do not criticize the text or mention that it might be a little dry because the guy standing in front of you (Charles Hill) wrote it.
  1. If I look him directly in the eye maybe he won’t see me …. darn it, that didn’t work!
  1. Everyone is watching  so here goes nothing! Please be the correct answer, please be the correct answer….

On a serious note I remember thinking how interesting his class was and that despite being exhausted what a good job he did keeping us all engaged in the class. Additionally I recall thinking how impressed I was with the caliber of the professors and how lucky I was to be a part of such a smart and talented cohort, Skamania was a very humbling experience for me.”

EMBA students networking

Skamania at night

“Skamania overall was a tremendous opportunity to sit through several intense days of class and brush away the mental cobwebs.  More so, though, it was an opportunity to spend focused time with your new classmates and teammates.  A great time to start some shared experiences and friendships of a kind that are harder to find the older you become.”

Learn more about Executive MBA.

Student teams develop innovative solutions to increase profitability of the world’s largest festival

Photo of Winning Team
2014 Winning Team members Michelle Hara, Zach Bickel, Erica Cheng, and Crystal Wang with Larry Calkins of Holland America Line

Did you know that during the 16 day Munich Oktoberfest an average tent with 7,500 seats sells over 4 million euros worth of beer?

This weekend at the  2014 Holland America Line Global Case Competition, over 100 Foster School undergraduates grappled with how to increase the profitability and global reach of Oktoberfest, the world’s largest festival. The Global Business Center is pleased to announce that this year’s competition was a great success!

Teams played the role of outside consultants hired by the Munich Oktoberfest Organizing Committee to develop a strategy recommendation to increase profitability of Munich Oktoberfest. Teams spent 48 hours developing their background analysis, and on Saturday November 15th presented their recommendations to panels of community member judges. The top four teams were selected to move on to the final round.

After watching the final round teams present, the panel of six finalist judges determined a winner. This year’s deliberation was particularly challenging because each of the finalist teams had an insightful and innovative recommendation.

Team 2 members Zach Bickel, Erica Cheng, Michelle Hara, and Crystal Wang, were named the 2014 Holland America Line Global Case Competition Champion, and awarded $1,000. Their recommendation to increase profitability of Oktoberfest was to replicate the festival abroad, specifically in Munich’s Sister City, Sapporo, Japan. Their team determined through detailed analytics that a Sapporo Oktoberfest would prove successful due to existing infrastructure, socioeconomic factors and a strong cultural identity.

This year we had seven outstanding freshman teams participate in the ‘Freshman Direct Track’ of the competition, where only teams of Foster School freshman compete against one another. Judges were blown away by the extraordinary recommendations the freshman teams developed.  The title of Freshman Winning Team and an award of $500 was achieved by Christopher Cave, Carly Knight, Jennifer Louie, and Molly Mackinnon.  We are excited to see these students getting involved so early in their Foster careers!

The Holland America Line Global Case Competition is an introductory case competition and an exceptional learning experience for Foster School students. It provides an opportunity for students who have never competed in a case competition to ‘get their feet wet’. This year learning opportunities included a ‘how to approach a case competition’ training session, taught by Foster School faculty member Leta Beard, and a coaching round which provided teams the opportunity to get feedback on their presentation from business community and faculty coaches before presenting in front of the judges panel. Thank you to all of our volunteers who made the event possible!

Visit our website to find out more and learn how to get involved next year.

The Global Business Center would like to thank Holland America Line for their generous support of this unique educational event for Foster School of Business students. Holland America Line is a leader in the cruising industry and a longtime supporter of the Foster School of Business.

Foster’s Professional Sales Team takes 1st in national competition

Professional Sales Team
From left to right: Geyliah Hara Salzberg, Alex Crane, Rick Carter (faculty), Meredith Barrett, and Natalie Jerome.

On October 15, Geyliah Hara Salzberg, Alex Crane, Meredith Barrett and Natalie Jerome represented the Foster Professional Sales Program at the National Team Selling Competition (NTSC) hosted by Indiana University at the Kelley School of Business. The NTSC attracts 21 universities across the nation. Teams participate in a two-sales-call process in front of judges from sponsoring corporations 3M and Altria. Teams compete in three divisions with the top competitor in each division advancing to the finals. The University of Washington took top division honors and advanced to the finals, ultimately achieving a 1st place victory.

The 2014 National Team Selling competition demanded a large upfront time commitment by our students as they learned the complexities of selling, team work, presentation skills, and overcoming objections. Students learned how to digest the challenges and opportunities of a case and then, trusting the strengths of each team member, present the rollout of a private label product line. Numerous hours of training, rehearsing, and strategizing on this case took place prior to the trip to Indiana. Jack Rhodes, Director of the Foster School of Professional Sales, assembled a team of four seniors to represent Foster. Soon after, Jack engaged a study team joined by Foster’s Professional Sales Program Assistant Director Rick Carter, Joe Vandehey of Altria, Jeff Lehman of Mentor Press, and graduates from prior year’s competition spent many hours preparing the students for this remarkable competition. When asked what the best part of the competition was—besides winning—students agreed that it was the team experience and confidence gained in the preparation. Alex Crane received the MVP of our division and remarked, “of all of the training I’ve had in school, this experience was the best practical learning experience in preparation for the real world.”

About the Foster Professional Sales Program

The Foster Professional Sales Program provides students with the knowledge and real-world experience necessary to be successful in sales. This nationally ranked program teaches how to sell, manage, and lead. These skills can be used not only for your future career, but for your lifetime in business. Given a job placement rate of over 90%, this combination of interning and curriculum has proven to be invaluable for students as they graduate and enter the job market.

Making the Entrepreneurial Leap: leaving the corporate world and diving into startup life

EntreLeap3_448x448On November 5, the founders of four hot Seattle-based startups gathered at the UW Foster School to discuss their experiences in leaving the corporate world and diving into startup life. John Gabbert (Pitchbook), Bryan Maletis (FatCork), Jane Park (Julep), and Tom Seery (RealSelf), spoke on making the decision to leave the security of a big company, the differences between corporate and startup work, and how important industry experience was before making the entrepreneurial leap. But some of the most fascinating advice of the evening applied not just to those making the corporate/startup switch, but to entrepreneurs in general. Here are some of our favorite answers to questions on matters of time, money, passion, and luck.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you? How many hours do you work, and when are you most productive?

John Gabbert:
“If you highlight 90 to 100 hours a week on a calendar, it looks pretty ridiculous, but that’s how much I worked in the early days, on specs, plans, and financials. But the key thing to know isn’t how many hours you work. It’s the fact that [the company] is always on your mind. When you wake up in the morning, when you’re in the shower . . . it’s an all-consuming thing. “

Tom Seery:
“I do a lot of work from about 8pm to midnight—that’s when I’m in power mode. My days are spent recruiting and networking. Networking is so important. I will always take a coffee meeting with someone who contacts me to say they are interested in founding a startup. I never say no, because I’ve been there, and I want to encourage people to network. If you can’t shamelessly reach out to and keep up with people who are important in this community, you might not be the right person to have your own startup.”

Q: Had you done any financial planning when you decided to quit your job?

Bryan Maletis:
“I bootstrapped everything. I was fortunate to have savings to do so. I kept having to put more and more of my savings into the company, and it got worrisome, but when I was putting in my money, I knew that failure was just not an option. I had to say, ‘this is going to work, because we’re putting all of our savings into it.’”

Jane Park:
“My parents owned a 7-Eleven when I was growing up, and we lived above it. I wasn’t use to a life of luxury, so I’ve always felt that money is something you can make, but it’s not what defines a life. There is definitely some freedom in that. I did have some savings from my former jobs, but I went through that pretty quickly. Once we reached a point where we were so big that I could not personally cover our burn rate, it was actually a relief. It was finally beyond my reach to help.”

Q: How passionate do you have to be to start your own company?

“I think passion may be the most important thing. I’d put it up there with grit and determination, but I think passion is really the driving force. Thousands of people will tell you no, whether you’re raising money, trying to get people to buy your product, or convincing people your idea will work. If you’re not passionate, it’ll suck.”

For a founder of a company, passion is the most important thing. If I didn’t love champagne and love sharing the product with people, my job would be very hard and dull, and I wouldn’t have stuck it out during the first two years when I was making no money.

“I’m actually not passionate about the cosmetic surgery market. But I am extraordinarily passionate about elements of it—what we’re doing for consumers, and the feedback we’re getting. And I am super passionate about my ‘hidden agenda,’ which is to change things about the world through reconstructive surgery. We support surgeons who travel around the world to perform surgery on children and adults who have eminently correctable problems. After surgery, these people can return to life as normal or begin to have a life. So I founded RealSelf thinking I was doing one thing, and discovered my purpose along the way. I’m passionate about making this world a better place.”

“It doesn’t matter if your passion is for any particular market or product, but being an entrepreneur means you have to have passion for innovation and a belief that your company is doing something good for the world. That has to be at the core of what keeps you moving forward.”

Q: (from moderator Connie Bourassa-Shaw)
“College students have been taught their entire life that it pays off to be smart. You get in the University of Washington because you’re smart. Life goes your way because you’re smart. But entrepreneurs should never underestimate the power of luck. So, would you rather be lucky or smart?”

“I’d rather be lucky than smart. I believe I am lucky. When I met my wife, she pushed me into doing this. I still don’t have the smarts for it, but I believe that you should surround yourself with people that are smarter than you and better than you at different things, and I’ve been lucky to be able to do that.”

“Lucky, and just smart enough.”

“I adopted two children from orphanages in china, so I appreciate what it means to be born in a country where we have privilege and access to amazing resources. Three years ago I would have answered smart, but now I’m in the lucky category.”

“I think I would have said smart, you can’t control luck, but I think what I hear everyone else expressing is a sense of gratitude, and I definitely have that. People laugh at me because I’ll say to employees as they arrive at work, ‘Thank you for coming back to work!’”



Money follows vision

As the executive director of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Simon Woods must strike a delicate balance between the business and artistic sides of his organization. While for-profits may be based on creating value, non-profits are centered on creating “impact.” So, there’s always a struggle when deciding to “do things that lose more money, but make more impact,” Woods said.

Simon WoodsOn October 29, Woods presented at the Leaders to Legends lecture series and discussed the recent challenges and transformations the Seattle Symphony faced under his direction. According to Woods, the previous decade was not an easy one for the organization, beset by external pressures like the recession, and internal friction from the misalignment of artistic vision among members. Symphonies are large and fragile organizations: “They’re like giants—they fall hard,” he said.

Woods came to Seattle in May 2011, during “a moment of great artistic potential aligned with a moment of financial peril,” he said. Together with Music Director Ludovic Morlot, Woods has been instrumental in defining and executing a vision to establish the Seattle Symphony as a dynamic, forward-looking, and community-focused organization. Woods worked previously as Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, President and CEO of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and Vice President of Artistic Planning and Operations at The Philadelphia Orchestra. He’s spent the better part of 20 years on the business side of music.

Woods explained the six-part plan that helped turn things around for the Seattle Symphony.

  1. Change the brand from traditional to contemporary. According to Woods, Seattle is a progressive city, so it needs a progressive orchestra.
  2. Plan boldly. To match the new brand, the Seattle Symphony started taking more risks in its programming by performing more contemporary pieces, playing in different spaces, and collaborating with rock, pop, and rap artists.
  3. Control the messaging. Woods underscored the importance of staying on message, so that the organization could present itself as “the orchestra of Seattle, not just in
  4. Work to build a financial bridge to the future through fundraising and re-budgeting.
  5. Focus on the long term. The Seattle Symphony didn’t ask its constituents for help now, but rather for help becoming a great organization for the next generation.
  6. Gather morale. Woods wanted to “build an internal culture of collaboration and harmony.”

So far the plan has paid off, and the Seattle Symphony has balanced its budget for three years in a row. When you “invest in reflecting the values of your city, not surprisingly, you get rewarded,” Woods said. More significantly, the organization’s impact has not diminished. In fact, the Seattle Symphony has a greater impact than ever, as demonstrated by the launching of new projects like its music education program, prison outreach program, and the creation of a record label, to name a few.

The challenges may not be over, but Woods remains optimistic. “As the world speeds up, there is more and more need for beauty and peace in life,” he said.

The Foster Why

In the Foster School’s Behavioral Lab, a remarkable collaboration of faculty and students is discovering why we do the things we do

 Foster WhyWe’re more likely to do bad things when exhausted.

This notion has become almost doctrine among ethicists, the broad conclusion of a large and convincing body of research. It follows a solid line of logic: mental fatigue depletes will power, leaving us vulnerable to the temptations of cheating, lying and stealing (and a litany of other ills).

But this reasoning has always struck Xiao-Ping Chen as missing some important context. Isn’t it possible, she wondered, to be too tired to cheat?

To find out, Chen, a professor of management and the Philip M. Condit Endowed Chair in Business Administration, Scott Reynolds, an associate professor of business ethics and Helen Moore Gerhardt Faculty Fellow, and doctoral student Kai Chi (Sam) Yam went to the Foster School’s state-of-the-art Behavioral Lab to test this hypothesis on Foster undergrads.

They began by taxing the brains of their experimental group—half the participating students—with a puzzling mental exercise to identify the colors of words that spell a different color (the word blue in red type, for instance). A test confirmed the puzzles worked as planned.

Next the students read fictional reports of a poll revealing society’s view on cheating. In one, the vast majority considers low-impact cheating unacceptable; in the other, the majority gives it a pass. A test confirmed that the participants’ views were influenced by the report they had just read.

Finally, the students faced their own temptation to cheat. Each was asked to solve a series of challenging math equations and self-report their results, earning $1 for each correct answer.

What they didn’t know was that the problems were unsolvable.

Subjects, then space

 Behavior studies such as this were more difficult and expensive to conduct in the days before computer labs and web-based surveys. But even today, studies of any complexity are likely to achieve conclusive findings only in a dedicated physical space.

“A traditional lab is invaluable when you are doing more involved behavioral or interactive research,” says Mark Forehand, a professor of marketing and the Pigott Family Professor in Business Administration.

When Forehand joined the Foster faculty in 1997, the only space available for behavioral experiments was the Balmer Hall computer lab. It was far from dedicated, and far from perfect.

Forehand made do. But he also began pushing for improvements to the research environment. He first tapped into a continuous source of research subjects by creating a new subject pool populated by undergraduate students enrolled in MKT 301. To gain exposure to the research process, students are given the option to participate in two behavioral studies during the quarter or complete independent research on published behavioral studies. Later, a similar pool was created for studies on the management side from students enrolled in IBUS 300.

The cohort of social scientists grew at Foster. And as the blueprints were drawn for the long-awaited PACCAR Hall, Forehand secured, at last, a dedicated space appropriate for his colleagues’ work. The Behavioral Lab opened for business in fall 2010.

Behavior cave

The lab is buried deep beneath the soaring glass and vaulted walls of PACCAR Hall’s atrium and gallery, below its high-tech classrooms and tidy cloisters of faculty offices, in one of the most unassuming suites in the building.

A small sign at its entrance whispers its presence. An unadorned reception nook opens to a partitioned room aligned with computer carols. A couple of spare meeting rooms wait in the wings. There is no art on the walls. No light or sound leaks in from outside. The tone is neither sterile nor penal. Just a little bland. Nondescript. Neutral.

For a laboratory to study human behavior, it’s perfect.

“We didn’t get what most would consider an ideal space,” says Forehand. “But for a lab, it’s great. We don’t want windows. Something as simple as a sunny or cloudy day has been shown to affect how people respond. So the basement location is actually a great thing.”

Everything in the lab is designed to maximize experimental flexibility, privacy and control. “It’s a huge advantage of doing a study here,” says Ann Schlosser, an associate professor of marketing who specializes in online behavior. “It’s so much easier to get high-quality findings here, especially when you are doing a computer-mediated or online activity.”

Never a dull moment

The lab runs like a factory through the midsection of each quarter. Schlosser and Ryan Fehr, an assistant professor of management, manage their respective department’s activities, with doctoral students overseeing day-to-day operations and undergrads serving as lab assistants. Thousands of student subject hours allow dozens of studies to take place each year.

Power users include a growing cohort of Foster faculty multiplied by their doctoral students who, despite second billing, tend to be the heaviest users of all.

On the consumer behavior side, the list includes Forehand, Schlosser, Nidhi Agrawal, Shelly Jain, Richard Yalch, Jeff Shulman, Rob Palmatier, Natalie Mizik and Abhishek Borah. On the management and organization side, the usual suspects are Fehr, Chen, Reynolds, Chris Barnes, Christina Fong and Michael Johnson.

Add to the list new faculty recruits David Welsh, an assistant professor of management, and Lea Dunn, an assistant professor of marketing whose research in brand attachment, social influence and consumer emotions will fit right in. “A lot of my work involves manipulation of social interaction or emotions, which require in-person engagement,” Dunn says. “So the Behavioral Lab was an important factor for my deciding to come to Foster.”

Pushing the envelope

If the Behavioral Lab specializes in consumer and organizational behavior, it also serves as proving ground for studies in leadership, entrepreneurship, ethics, behavioral finance and accounting, and many more topics in the vast range of human behaviors in the context of business.

Recently Fehr studied whether moral diversity—the degree to which someone shares your same moral code—affects the level of conflict in negotiations.

A group led by Bruce Avolio, director of the Foster Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking, is using the lab to help develop a means for organizations to valuate intangible assets such as leadership.

Team Schlosser recently investigated the effects of cyber exclusion—being left out or ignored online—on a person’s feelings. Another study, of sports drink packaging, confirmed that consumers associate an upward orientation of the logo/text with activity, and a downward orientation with rest or relaxation. A third study found that feelings of gratitude lead a person to indulge in sweet over savory treats.

Reynolds and several doctoral students have found that employees can develop a sense of moral entitlement after engaging in pro-social behavior at work.

Barnes and Yam have examined the impact of morality on sense of humor (and found them to be pretty mutually exclusive).

 Lloyd Tanlu, an assistant professor of accounting, investigated how thinking about scarcity affects a person’s financial decision making.

A Borah study found that one-sided online reviews are more persuasive to people who are researching on behalf of a close friend or boss, whereas two-sided reviews work better in the lower-stakes case of researching for an acquaintance.

Chen and Suresh Kotha, faculty director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, are documenting the way people respond to different tones of entrepreneurial pitches—authentic, passionate, confidant—on crowdfunding sites.

A study guided by Fong found that the presence of emotions in the workplace decreases the likelihood that employees will be objectified and increases the likelihood of mutual support.

Mizik and her doctoral students are investigating how consumers develop loyalty to brands.

And the Agrawal group has studied the effect of different voting mechanisms on group decision making, the effectiveness of different types of public health messages on healthy eating, and how the use of causal language—“because,” “since” or “thus”—in explaining an employee’s performance ratings improves her subsequent performance.

In conclusion

In their study on fatigue and ethics, Chen, Reynolds and Yam came to a clear conclusion. The mentally depleted students who were primed to view the world as permissive of cheating proved more likely to fudge on their math scores for few bucks. But the depleted students who were primed to believe that society doesn’t tolerate cheating cheated less.

So exhaustion can actually make us less likely to act unethically when the act is complicated by a high degree of social consensus that it’s wrong. In these cases, Chen explains, mental fatigue depletes the energy required to cheat—and keep from being caught.

Additional studies confirmed this thought-provoking finding which was recently published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

Like other successful behavioral studies out of Foster, the work contributes knowledge to the academic literature and wisdom to attentive managers.

“Periods of overwork and exhaustion are inevitable in an organization,” says Chen. “And it is at those times, when employees are most vulnerable, that a culture of integrity and honesty is essential as a deterrent to unethical acts.”

That’s one more mystery of human behavior solved by this remarkable collaboration of faculty and students at the Foster School.

But there’s always another question to be answered in the Behavioral Lab.

Read about a student who turned undergraduate research at Foster into a promising academic career.

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