Texas A&M University and Auburn University are now beginning their athletic competition, but you might say the two SEC universities already have Michael Hitt in common. Their strong record of academic collaboration in the management field has Hitt as a driving force.
Hitt, distinguished professor and holder of the Joe B. Foster Chair in Business Leadership in Texas A&M’s Department of Management, has collaborated on two innovative and highly productive research projects with Auburn researchers — and even helped provide the Alabama institution some outstanding Aggie talent.
“Both research projects were great experience for me because I was working with excellent scholars and all-around strong professionals for whom I have a great deal of respect,” Hitt says.
“Auburn is a fine university,” he adds. “They have a group of excellent faculty in our field, several of whom work in my areas of specialty. In fact, they now have two Ph.D. graduates from Texas A&M on the faculty in the Management Department.
One research project, “Marching to the Beat of Different Drummers: The Influence of Institutional Owners on Competitive Actions,” was conducted with Brian Connelly at Auburn and Laszlo Tihanyi at Texas A&M. Their study extends agency theory, which says the actions of executives at a company may at times deviate from the interests of shareholders, by exploring the influence of varied, competing owners (stockholders) on the company’s executive actions. They found that ownership structure of a business provides a powerful incentive for that business to engage in strategic and tactical competitive actions.
“Brian Connelly is actually one of the Texas A&M Ph.D. graduates now working at Auburn,” Hitt notes. “Thus, it was very natural for Lazslo and me to work with him as an extension of the working relationship established while he was here.”
Hitt explains that Connelly is an excellent young faculty member. In fact, because he has been so productive since going to Auburn, he was given early promotion to associate professor and tenure by the university.
“We are very proud of him.”
Hitt also collaborated on “Contingency Hypotheses in Strategic Management Research: Use, Disuse, or Misuse?” with David Ketchen at Auburn. They examined the development of contingency thinking in strategic management by reviewing all empirical articles published in Strategic Management Journal from its inception in 1980 through 2009. In doing so, Hitt, Ketchen and their team identified all contingency studies in the articles. Based on their analysis, they were able to offer both theoretical and methodological guidelines for future strategic management studies.
“I have known Dave Ketchen for several years through connections in professional organizations, journal editorial roles and common research interests,” Hitt says. “The review article on which we collaborated was a natural for us because of our common interests and prior research in the area. Dave is also a well-respected scholar in our field.”
Hitt himself is one of the most respected scholars in business management. A recent article listed him as one of the 10 most cited authors in management over a 25-year period. The Times Higher Education in 2010 listed him among the top scholars in economics, finance and management and noted that he is first among management scholars (tied) with the largest number of highly cited articles.
So Auburn University and many others in management research are familiar with Hitt’s studies.