While playing hooky from a conference in Boston a few years back, three former colleagues from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management hopped in a car and headed on a road trip. They pulled into a shoe store in Maine and noticed that the sales help was unusually pushy. After a few questions, they discovered the store had a "secret shopper" program, in which employees would be marked down if they were not sufficiently aggressive with customers. A lightbulb went off.
Instead of teaching the tried-and-true case studies involving GE and Microsoft, these three wise men decided to pull their heads out of their ivory towers and go in search of insights about product differentiation, pricing, brand management, building a team, and a host of other topics. Why take your cues on employee compensation from Wall Street when you can learn from a Main Street company like Couer D'Alene's best crime-scene cleaner? Want to learn about scaling a business? Come meet Dr. Burris, the flying orthodontist, who operates multiple, profitable practices in rural Arkansas.
The book isn't all egghead; the chapters are spiced with the type of vehicular mishaps and Maalox moments that are common on any road trip.
Michael Mazzeo is an Associate Professor of Management & Strategy at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management where he teaches the school's core MBA class in Business Strategy. Mike has a PhD in Economics from Stanford University, and lives in Chicago with his eight-year old son and many, many Legos.
Paul Oyer is the Fred H. Merrill Professor of Economics at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. Paul has a PhD in Economics from Princeton University, and lives in Stanford, California with his two children.
Scott Schaefer holds the Kendall D. Garff Chair in Business Administration and is Professor of Finance at the University of Utah's David Eccles School of Business. He has a PhD in business economics from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, and lives in Salt Lake City with his two children.
"Roadside MBA succeeds admirably in providing fresh examples to illustrate the basic tenets of MBA theory."The Economist
"For those who don't have the time or money to go to business school, but teem with ambition, or for burgeoning small business owners looking for creative ideas, Roadside MBA is an excellent primer. Pick and choose the businesses that illustrate what you want to learn, grab your favorite snacks, and then hit the road, because with Mazzeo, Oyer, and Schaefer at the wheel, you're in good hands."Fortune.com
"An excellent primer on dealing with problems that keep managers...awake at night."Financial Times
"A great new book that combines two quintessentially American things: the road trip and small businesses."Jack Covert selects
"Refreshingly different from your typical high-toned business books....Timeless lessons for every executive, entrepreneur, and business student."Bloomberg BusinessWeek
"A reminder of everything that makes business vital, fascinating -- even fun."Inc. Magazine
"Roadside MBA combines humor with business theory and practice in a fresh, amusing way. You'll be entertained and educated, ending up with a newfound admiration for the ingenuity of small-town businesses."Success