Skiing scholar: Karpoff featured in the Wall Street Journal for backcountry adventures

Jon Karpoff skate skiing in the Cascades.

Jonathan Karpoff is best known in academic circles. The professor of finance and Washington Mutual Endowed Chair in Innovation at the UW Foster School of Business has earned international renown for his award-winning investigations of corporate finance, governance, and crime and punishment.

But it was Karpoff’s extracurricular pursuits that recently caught the attention of the Wall Street Journal.

The February 2 edition of the Journal featured him in the latest of its “What’s Your Workout?” series.

A stunning vista from one of Karpoff’s skate skiing adventures.

The workout? Skate skiing in wilderness areas groomed for snowmobiles, an adventurous and exhausting variant of cross-country skiing.

The article chronicles Karpoff’s discovery of skate skiing 25 years ago, his grueling urban workouts (hello resistance bands) and virtuous diet (minus the occasional cookie), his choice of gear and the website he created for fellow enthusiasts (adventureskateskiing.org). It recounts his preference in music while skiing (none) and the singular motivation that comes from a close encounter with a young bull moose in the backcountry—“it definitely nudges you to ski a little faster,” he says.

While the weekend WSJ delves deeply into Karpoff’s stamina, it omits his equally impressive scholarship.

He likes to say that his prolific and wide-ranging research broadly seeks to understand “how and when Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand works—or sometimes does not work—to coordinate economic activities and promote social well-being.”

Jonathan KarpoffHis study on the cost to firms for cooking the books was recognized with the Best Paper Award at the University of Chicago’s CRSP Forum in 2006, the William F. Sharpe Award for Scholarship in Financial Research in 2009, and Emerald Management Review’s Citations of Excellence Award in 2012. His research finding that short sellers expose corporate financial fraud earned another Best Paper Award at the CRSP Forum in 2008. His paper on why IPO firms have takeover defenses won Best Paper Awards at the 2012 Financial Management Association conference and the 2011 Financial Research Association Conference. His paper comparing successes of publicly versus privately funded arctic expeditions earned Karpoff the 2003 Griliches Prize in Empirical Economics. And his study showing that managers who aggressively manage earnings tend to get fired earned him the Best Paper Award at the George Mason University Conference on Corporate Governance and Fraud Prevention in 2009.

His work has been cited in media outlets including The New York Times, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, and National Public Radio.

Karpoff casts a long shadow on the snow-covered backcountry and the field of finance.

Karpoff was named a Fellow of the Financial Management Association in 2016, where he stands among Nobel Laureates and other giants of finance. In 2015, he received the Outstanding Contributions to Research in Corporate Governance award from the influential Drexel University Center for Corporate Governance. He also has won numerous teaching awards at the Foster School, especially for his work in the Executive MBA Program.

A leader in the adjudication of financial inquiry, Karpoff serves as an associate editor of several  academic journals, including the Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, and Managerial and Decision Economics.  He is a past president of The Financial Management Association International, an International Research Fellow at Oxford’s Centre for Corporate Reputation, an External Fellow for the Center for Corporate Governance at Drexel University, and a member of the Financial Economists Roundtable.