Robert Edgell, SUNY Polytechnic Institute – Re-Imagining Entrepreneurship

Many entrepreneurs want to make the most money.

Robert Edgell, associate professor of technology management at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, examines how to shift this perspective.

Dr. Edgell is currently an Associate Professor of Technology Management, Co-Director of the Joint Center for Creativity, Design, and Venturing, and had volunteered for one year to be the Interim Dean of the College of Business Management at SUNY Polytechnic Institute. He has been a Visiting Professor at the Swiss Business School in Zurich and has delivered research papers and lectures at Stanford University’s Law School, the University of California San Francisco’s School of Dentistry, the California College of the Arts, and the University of St. Gallen. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor at American University’s Kogod School of Business where he was named Outstanding Faculty. Also, he has taught at San Francisco State University’s College of Business.

Dr. Edgell’s scholarship agenda expands upon his deep commitment to creativity, design, innovation, governance, and diversity. He is currently researching institutional change micro-processes, design culture, collective ideation, and entrepreneurial capacity development. He has collaborated with scholars from Temple University, Stanford University, and other institutions. He has published several scholarly research articles and presented multiple conference papers. Seven research projects have been featured on National Public Radio’s Academic Minute. Recently he was a co-PI recipient of a prestigious $100,000 National Endowment for the Humanities, Humanities Connections grant for Reimagining Entrepreneurship: An Integrated Pathway for Creative and Ethical Venturing. In addition, NYSTEC recently donated $25,000 for supporting his entrepreneurial Initiatives and related research at the College of Business Management. Shortly after arriving at SUNY Poly, he launched a community-based experiential learning, research, and service program that brings InnovationChallenge New York (ICNY) events to the Upstate New York region. Since then, he has organized a total of five ICNY iterations with varied topics, students, and locations. In October of 2017, he presented his co-authored empirical quantitative research paper, Reimagining entrepreneurship: Design culture exposure as a positive mediator for entrepreneurial capacity, at the International Atlantic Economics Society’s Montreal Conference (paper currently under peer review for publication). He was awarded “Campus Connector” designation by Upstate Venture Ecosystems Awards in 2016.

Dr. Edgell received his PhD in international multicultural management (magna cum laude) from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. He holds an MBA from Columbia University Business School in the City of New York and a five-year Bachelor of Architecture from Kent State University, College of Architecture and Environmental Design. Through Columbia’s Chazen Institute of International Business, he studied at Erasmus University, Rotterdam School of Management in The Netherlands. He is a registered Architect and has studied at Harvard University, Graduate School of Design.

Re-Imagining Entrepreneurship


Traditional economists suggest that entrepreneurs are driven almost exclusively by extrinsic rewards, especially financial greed. However, is this true?

To reimagine entrepreneurship, we tested our agentic proposition that exposing students to design methods would provide them with the capabilities to investigate and collaboratively act upon complex social phenomena. We suspected that this would shift them away from preoccupation with their own personal financial gains to appreciation for the needs of others.

And guess what? Participants perceived exposure to collaborative design processes as highly enjoyable and intrinsically rewarding. The visualization techniques they learned may help induce personal ease since it enabled them to capture and communicate nuanced and complex information that is not comfortably or readily articulable through traditional coded language.

Also, deliberately shifting the focus from self to others seems to be intrinsically rewarding. Exposure to design culture may have moved students’ preferences towards these intrinsically rewarding outcomes thus fostering a more favorable view of entrepreneurial activity. It may be that participants perceived these intrinsic rewards as compensation for possible failures commonly associated with entrepreneurial undertakings.

Reimagining through design exposure seems promising for motivating young adults so that they become more entrepreneurial and caring about the wellbeing of others.