Whitman School receives grant to establish Institute for an Entrepreneurial Society

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In 2014 the Charles Koch Foundation was under fire for offering grant money to schools. The money was to be given with the stipulation that schools promote the free market and laissez-faire economics, according to a report by The Washington Post.

The Whitman School recently received a $1.75 million grant from the Charles Koch Foundation to establish an Institute for an Entrepreneurial Society.

The Martin J. Whitman School of Management will launch the IES in 2017, according to a Whitman press release. The IES will research the intersection between public policy and entrepreneurship, said Maria Minniti, founding director of the IES.

Students and faculty in the IES will study why people create businesses, how business emerges and how certain entrepreneurs have advantages or disadvantages, Minniti said. Research in the IES will include elements of psychology, sociology, economics and political science.

She added that the IES will focus primarily on the link between emerging business innovations and economic growth.

“We want to look at what institutions are more conducive to economic growth, what the role of government should be and what governments can do to promote economic growth,” Minniti said.

Minniti said throughout academia, there has been a general gap in research that studies the correlation between policy and entrepreneurship.

Most research is done by economists who focus on public policy dealing with large, established businesses or regional business clusters, like Silicon Valley, she said.

“The idea behind the Institute is to create a catalyst for researchers interested in studying productive entrepreneurship,” Minniti said.

The IES will train Whitman graduate students, according to Whitman’s website.

Mike Haynie, vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation, said the IES also plans to bring in speakers from emerging businesses.

The Charles Koch Foundation has provided a $1.75 million grant to establish the IES, according to the Whitman press release. The Washington Post reported in 2014 that the Koch Foundation has come under fire for offering grant money to schools with the stipulation that they promote the free market and laissez-faire economics.

“The Koch Foundation has had no influence over any of the Institute’s future research,” Haynie said. “If they did, the IES would return the grant money.”

The Koch Foundation did not respond to requests for comment.

Haynie said the IES will not focus on the relationship between business and politics. Rather, the IES will research public policy and how policy promotes or obstructs entrepreneurial growth, he said.

Minniti said she has been interested in creating an organization like the IES for years.

“Syracuse University is a great place to have this program because the Whitman School already has a world-class entrepreneurship program,” Minniti said.


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