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Assistant Professor of Strategic Management Andrew Maxwell recently received the Academy of Management’s prestigious Heizer Doctoral Dissertation Award, which honors outstanding doctoral research in the field of entrepreneurship and new enterprise development.
Maxwell’s dissertation, “Business Angel Decision Making,” used his involvement in the production of four seasons’ worth of the TV show Dragon’s Den (the international version of America’s popular reality TV series Shark Tank), to analyze the decision-making behaviors of angel investors – an issue for any entrepreneur seeking external funding for his or her venture. Observations of the decision process provide an important perspective on how investors make decisions and why specific factors lead to rejection by the investor.
This research, which began as a basic inquiry into what leads some ventures to fail while others succeed, built upon the work of other studies into the behaviors of investors, but Maxwell said it was his application of theory from psychology, behavioral economics and decision-making to what he observed that set his dissertation apart.
Most people assume that, when considering an investment opportunity, angel investors consider many aspects of the opportunity simultaneously and weigh each criteria equally, Maxwell said, but this is not the case.
“People break complex decisions into several stages,” Maxwell said. “At each, the business angels consider different aspects of the venture and the entrepreneur, and use different decision techniques to reject opportunities.”
Maxwell, who began work on his PhD at age 48, was, as usual, on his laptop at home with his dog, Kelsey (who even got a mention in the dedication of his thesis) when he received the email announcing he had won the Heizer Award. After telling Kelsey, and his supervisor, his wife suggested he call his parents in England to let them know, as they had assumed he would just “squeak by.”
The award is something he’s proud of and which meant a lot to his daughter, Emily, who said on the night of the award ceremony in Boston, “I’m 17 and my dad’s been doing his PhD for the last six years, since I was 11. That means he’s been doing this a third of my life. It’s really kind of a big thing to do.” –Rosella Eleanor LaFevre