Daniel Korschun: An interview by Bob Morris

KorschunDaniel Korschun is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. He works with companies to develop innovative CSR practices that generate value for both the company and society. Korschun’s academic research appears in the Journal of Marketing, MIT Sloan Management Review, Academy of Management Review, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Journal of Business Research, the Journal of Business Ethics, and other leading journals.
He is co-author of two books:

With Grant Welker: We Are Market Basket: The Story of the Unlikely Grassroots Movement That Saved a Beloved Business (AMACOM).

With C. B. Bhattacharya, and Sankar Sen: Leveraging Corporate Responsibility: The Stakeholder Route to Maximizing Business and Social Value (Cambridge University Press).

Here is an excerpt from my interview of Dan.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing We Are Market Basket, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

Korschun: It has always started with my family for me, so I’d point to my parents and my wife right away. They are the ones who have always provided the most encouragement and who always keep me focused on doing the right thing.

Morris: The greatest impact on your professional development? How so?

Korschun: There are many people to choose from here. One example is Bill Shipman, my fencing coach while I was in college at Brandeis. He introduced me to the discipline of excellence. What I mean is that he showed me that in order to excel, one has to stay focused on technical expertise first, then get creative. It was at through him that I began to see excellence as more of a habit than a destination.

Morris: Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow? Please explain.

Korschun: I majored in psychology in college but never knew what I would end up doing with a lot of that training. My first corporate job was in advertising, and that’s when it clicked for me that to be an effective marketer you have to understand how people think. It may seem obvious, but as a fresh graduate, it gave me direction I didn’t have before.

Morris: To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?

Korschun: My doctoral program was where I finally saw a lot gel for me. Before that, I had a lot of different interests, in social responsibility, in psychology, in leadership, in marketing. But they never fully came together until my doctoral program. That’s when I began to work under CB Bhattacharya – he’s now at ESMT in Berlin – and learned how to turn those interests into some tangible research projects that could break new ground. It’s also when I began to believe that I might contribute to other scholars and practitioners.

Morris: What do you know now about the business world that you wish you knew when you went to work full-time for the first time? Why?

Korschun: Today I have a better sense of what to take seriously and what not to take so seriously. When I first started my career, I got very hung-up when things went wrong; but now I’ve gotten better at expecting that some things will go wrong and I just concentrate on fixing those inevitable problems the best I can.

Morris: Of all the films that you have seen, which – in your opinion – best dramatizes important business principles? Please explain.

Korschun: The movie Billy Elliot is a personal favorite of mine. I tend to love movies where the character has a sort of passion that breaks with the norm, but they stick with it and find a way to make it work. One of the lessons I like to leave with my students is that they need to follow their personal passions because that passion will be contagious. I always tell them that how hard it is to get someone else to get excited if the student isn’t excited themselves. And getting others excited about something is really what leadership comes down to anyway.

Morris: From which non-business book have you learned the most valuable lessons about business? Please explain.

Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning is a classic text. It recounts his years in a concentration camp. He examines how people were able to cope under those sorts of conditions. We can trace a lot of positive psychology back to that book. More recently business scholars are looking at positive psychology as a means to make the workplace better for employees. It’s a difficult challenge, but scholars and practitioners are making some progress.

Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Lao-tse’s Tao Te Ching:

“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.”

Korschun: So many economists and business people think that business is all about money, that money is the only real motivator. But when you dig deeper, you almost always find that it only partly explains what drives people. What I read first in this quote is the importance of people, that is “who are we working for?” Business, when it’s done well, is a way of gathering resources and expertise to make someone else’s life better. The second thing that jumps to my eyes is the feeling of accomplishment that comes across strongly in that quotation. More and more studies are showing that intrinsic motivation can be as powerful as any monetary incentive. The key for leaders is to tap into this, helping people direct their energies so that they can serve others better.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Dan cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

We Are Market Basket link

Daniel Korschun faculty profile page link

LinkedIn link

Twitter link

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s