How do firms respond to technological change? How do firms manage the ever-increasing costs of research and development (R&D)? How do firms capture the value they create from their innovative activities? How do firms respond technologically to oil shocks?
These are just some of the important research questions that Curba Morris Lampert, assistant professor in the College of Business’s International Business Department, has been addressing in her research since arriving at FIU in 2013.
Lampert studies firms’ technology strategies. “I focus on issues of how firms build their technical capabilities, the means they use to capture value from their innovative activities, and the consequences of shocks, technological changes, and uncertainty on technology strategies,” she explained. “In this increasingly technology-driven economy, a firm’s technology strategy plays an essential role in its competitiveness and performance.”
As a researcher in the academic field of strategy, Lampert analyzes the competitive and organizational factors essential for firms to achieve superior performance using an integrative point of view and incorporating other disciplines.
“Strategy professors emphasize to their students that one of the strengths of strategic analysis is that it builds on other areas, which is something we very much practice ourselves,” she said. “In pursuing my research agenda in technology strategy, I have spanned the fields of entrepreneurship, economics, and international business.”
Lampert’s latest publication in the Journal of Management Studies, titled “Fearlessly Swimming Upstream to Risky Waters: The Role of Geographic Entry in Innovation,” serves as a case in point. The publication lies at the intersection of technology strategy and international business.
In the study, Lampert and her team explored the puzzling entry pattern of the R&D activities by firms into countries with weak intellectual property rights, which runs counter to conventional wisdom, as such an environment erodes a firm’s ability to capture value from its innovations. They found that firms operating regionally through downstream commercialization activities can offer complementary assets to the upstream R&D activities that help protect the firms’ intellectual property. More specifically, marketing, manufacturing, and selling pharmaceuticals within a region can help firms to protect their research and development activities in countries in the same region. The regional downstream commercialization activities can substitute for the weak intellectual property rights protection of a country within that region.
In the five years Lampert has been at FIU, her research accomplishments include co-authoring five papers for top tier publications and membership on the editorial board of the Strategic Management Journal, the strategy discipline’s flagship publication. Her dedication to exemplary work continues in the classroom. Her MBA students selected her ten times for the Best Teaching Award. Lampert teaches the core Strategy course in the Healthcare MBA program.
“In the HCMBA strategy course, I draw on the Porter and Teisberg value-based healthcare delivery framework,” she said. “I get to combine my background of strategy and public policy – this classroom experience has been a real gift.”
A “strategic” shift in career path.
As a young adult, Lampert didn’t intend to specialize in strategy, or even business. After earning her bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of California, Irvine, she pursued a master’s in public policy with an environmental focus at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, a likely prelude to law school.
Garry Brewer, then dean of the School for Natural Resources and Environment at Michigan, urged her to take an environmental strategy class at the business school with his counterpart, Stuart Hart. “Stu’s class was my first exposure to the field of strategy and, to use the quintessential expression, it ‘hit me like a lightning bolt’ and I never looked back,” she said. After completing her public policy degree, she enlarged her focus to encompass business, earning a Ph.D. in management with a focus in strategy at the University of Texas at Austin.
Lampert’s vast international experience includes founding an international business master’s in management program at the Zayed University College of Business in Dubai.
“Through engagement with people trained in different countries, you come to understand diverse perspectives that enrich your own view,” she said. “Truth be told, I don’t believe I ever really thought ‘globally’ until I lived and worked outside of the United States and realized, ‘wow, it’s a big world out there.’”
Such a perspective comes alive at FIU, Lampert said, where the international mission remains central, and the perspective of international students is a key part of the university experience. A recent class discussion about the Venezuelan economy following the description by students hailing from Latin America countries is one example. It is a facet of FIU Business she appreciates: “Our students have grown up thinking of the world in multiple ways, which makes for a richer classroom experience and, subsequently, they will be better managers because of their global interest.”