Businesses should examine themselves as a mechanical engineer examines a complex machine. The slightest error in calibration, for example, can throw off performance, sometimes significantly. I am determined to help businesses—and future business leaders—take accurate measure of organization and operations in order to maintain viability, solvency and productivity.

If a pharmaceutical company holds enough patents to effectively block competitors from marketing generic versions of its successfully-selling drug, its industrial organization will likely put less emphasis on advertising and marketing. So, it stands to reason that markets play a large role in how corporations are organized and how they function. This is why I focus so intensely on applied microeconomics and industrial organization: the two disciplines are mutually dependent. They can not be studied in isolation. With profitability and growth come new administrative costs, to be sure, but they are accompanied by more resources for research and development. Organization can work synergistically with markets—or work counter-productively against them.

While my research is directed toward these areas of industrial organization and applied microeconomics, I bring a unique set of skills and base of knowledge to the task. Having trained as an industrial engineer, I consistently try to discover how organizations respond to outside pressures (markets and regulations), where the energy (finances) is flowing and in what direction are they moving. As geeky as it sounds, numbers most often fill in the blanks so I frequently turn to econometrics as a tool of first resort—and encourage my students to do likewise. You do not have to be a Ph.D. to know the difference between barely meeting payroll and comfortably doing so if you have quantitative information to look at.

Sharing my passions with my students is immensely gratifying. At the same time, I am driven to bring these ideas to the larger community. To that end, I serve as a mentor at FourAthens, a local organization in Athens, Georgia that commits to fostering high tech start-ups in this college town. We call FourAthens a ”tech incubator” because we cast about for innovative entrepreneurs and new ideas, add funding and know-how and launch new tech companies, many of which are presently thriving. In addition, my research is frequently found in academic journals and trade publications, where I also comment on the impact of environmental regulations on economic behavior. This field assists policymakers in designing rules and businesses in responding to them.

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Chris Pope