Two Worlds Collide

PROVO, Utah – Apr 30, 2020 – If you’ve watched a TED Talk by a university professor or followed a researcher on Twitter, you’ve seen the connection between academics and the general public that BYU Marriott assistant professor of entrepreneurship Brian Reschke studies. Academics and popular culture may seem like topics that are worlds apart, but the research that Reschke conducts explores how these two different worlds collide.

With the rise of the internet, individual members of an organization can now connect with the general public directly instead of working through traditional mediums. “Businesses and communities must figure out how to deal with people who are more maverick in their engagement with the public” says Reschke.

He and Taeya Howell, an assistant professor of organizational behavior and human resources at BYU Marriott, are working together on research that examines the reaction of an academic community to someone who publishes their work in popular forms such as TED Talks. As almost everything in the world becomes more readily available online, Reschke and Howell’s research will help inform the transition of the academic community to the digital age.

Reschke’s experiences with conducting research began early in his academic career. He first explored the possibility of becoming a professor while serving a mission in Boston as he had discussions with his mission president, a former BYU faculty member. Upon Reschke’s return to campus following his mission, his desire to become a professor grew.

“After I got back to campus, I learned that BYU Marriott has a strong placement tradition of undergraduates going directly to PhDs,” says Reschke. Because BYU Marriott does not have a PhD program, Reschke could be involved in research as an undergraduate that would have been reserved for PhD students at any other school.

“Professors took a risk on getting me involved in challenging research projects at an early age, and I found out that I love doing research and that it was something I wanted to pursue,” says Reschke. He graduated from BYU Marriott in 2010, earning a management degree with an emphasis in organizational behavior. He went on to receive a PhD from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

Reschke has reached his research identity of collaboration and competition among academics by pursuing diverse interests throughout his academic career which gave him unique insights into different realms of academia. During his PhD work at UC Berkeley, Reschke took advantage of opportunities to take classes from a variety of departments. Beyond studying business, he also fulfilled PhD requirements by taking classes in subjects such as computer science and agriculture resource economics. The diversity of subjects that Reschke has been exposed to have given him a unique perspective on the academic community and the field of entrepreneurship.

“I study how scientists collaborate or compete with each other,” says Reschke. “I look at how new platforms are structured and how changes to those platforms make it easier or harder to evaluate new products or ideas.” He recognizes that the uncertainty and changing environment reflected in his research are also huge parts of the process of entrepreneurship. “Both academics and entrepreneurs are facing a lot of uncertainty,” he says. “They need to make decisions, and they have to navigate an evolving environment.”

In addition to his research at BYU Marriott, Reschke enjoys the opportunities that he has to guide students as they create their own businesses in that evolving environment. “We go through the process of generating new ideas for businesses and gathering early evidence about whether those ideas are worth pursuing any further,” says Reschke.

In his classes, students vet their ideas through real customers, test assumptions, and build prototypes. Once students have finished one of his classes, they know whether their businesses would be viable in the real world. “Teaching the students at BYU Marriott is a thrill,” says Reschke. “A lot of them are already working on businesses by the time they arrive at BYU.”

As a professor, Reschke notes that he often sees BYU Marriott entrepreneurs reach out to help each other. “Our students are giving back to other entrepreneurs,” says Reschke. “They're returning to campus and explaining how to cut their own path in entrepreneurship.”

Reschke also sees that BYU Marriott student businesses make a positive difference in the world around them. “For me, one of the most meaningful things about my job is seeing students creating businesses that are making an impact in the world,” says Reschke. “Our programs are very hands on, so students aren’t merely working through an abstract theoretical exercise or merely reading about creativity. Students are actually performing and creating businesses that will change the world.”

BYU Marriott assistant professor of entrepreneurship Brian Reschke
BYU Marriott assistant professor of entrepreneurship Brian Reschke.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kenna Pierce