I am engaged in two primary streams of research. The first investigates interpersonal dynamics in entrepreneurial teams and small businesses in the creation of small group cultures. I find that rather than standard operating procedures, proper emergency planning, or strategic growth initiatives, the ongoing creation of group histories, meanings, and affiliations provide the needed material to generate small group cohesion that creates order in entrepreneurial firms. I am currently writing several articles based on these findings.
My second area of research investigates discrimination in the job market at the point of first verbal communication between a job applicant and a potential employer. This research is based on experimental laboratory data. I have one publication and another study under review.
Employee Selection Process
Kushins, Eric. 2014. “Sounding Like Your Race in the Employment Process: An Experiment on Speaker Voice, Race Identification, and Stereotyping.” Race and Social Problems 6(3):237-248.
"Stay-at-Home Dads and Discrimination in the Reemployment Process." with Elizabeth Chapman (Data Collection in Process)
M.A. in Sociology
Certificate in Cognitive Science
B.A. with Honors, The College of Social Studies
Entrepreneurship and Small Businesses
"Kushins, Eric, Henry Heard, and Michael Weber. 2017. "Disruptive Innovation in Rural American Healthcare: The Physician Assistant Practice." International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing 11(2):165-182.
Kushins, Eric. 2016. "A Relationship Approach to Matching Interfirm Exchanges Between SME Executives and Corporate Business Executives." Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship 28(1): 95-125.
"Institutional Environment, Socioemotional Wealth, and R&D Investment in Family Business in China." with Hang Zhu (Writing in Progress)
"Metro-Atlanta Entrepreneurs: Sources of Funding and Revenue Stream Diversity." with Myriam Quispe-Agnoli (Data Collection in Progress)
“Landing Gear, Lettuce, Bouquets, and Home Health Aides: Entrepreneurial Ventures and the Surprising Resilience of Inefficiency in Entrepreneurial Businesses”
Organizational scholars have traditionally argued that formalized operations to regulate the flow of business activities and employee policies to coordinate work distribution are essential for small enterprising business sustainability and growth. However, empirical findings show that small business owners and managers are concerned with immediate necessities and simply do not have time to develop, implement, or provide oversight of formal organizational practices. While small businesses seem to lack the formal structures and practices that are assumed to be essential for business sustainability, many small firms flourish.
Instead of asking why small businesses fail to construct and implement formal processes, I ask: How do small firms generate order and stability? In order to better understand how small enterprising businesses are able to create and maintain stable organizations and adapt to environmental changes and grow, we need to better understand their inner workings and the forces that enable small groups to operate productively with limited resources and oversight.
To investigate this question, I conducted a cross-industry ethnographic study of four small businesses—an aerospace factory, an organic farm, a florist, and a health aide placement service—examining the work of business owners and managers, the interactions of employees, and the way daily business activities are legitimized, challenged, and occasionally transformed. As an employee at these firms for eighteen months, I had direct access to organizational actors and practices. I collected and analyzed field notes, formal and informal interviews, internal organizational documents, and industry trends. With these data, I find that entrepreneurial firms enact three different small group performances that enable first stability under fluctuating internal and external pressures. I label these variations in culture: routine resting performance, routine crisis performance, and routine growth performance. Rather than standard operating procedures, proper emergency planning, or strategic growth initiatives, the ongoing creation and reinforcement of group histories, meanings, and affiliations provide the needed material to generate small group cohesion that enable productive operations of entrepreneurial firms.
Findings from this study will contribute broadly to research on entrepreneurial firms and organizational culture, as well as specifically to employee motivation, the development and preservation of routines, the efficiency of teams, and leadership. Insights will also provide practical suggestions for various organizations that support small businesses, including incubators and the SBA.