Assistant Professor, School of Labor and Employment Relations
Entrepreneurial course taught by Professor Avgar
About Professor Avgar
Bridges The Gap Between HR And Entrepreneurial Firms
By Sara Karolak, AEL Intern
Ariel Avgar knows people. As a 2008 Faculty Fellow for the Academy of Entrepreneurial Leadership and an Assistant Professor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations, Avgar’s area of expertise is human resource management, a crucial element in the world of entrepreneurship. “While entrepreneurs often say the key to their success is people, they’re typically focused on the ideas of their business,” says Avgar. “The minute you hire your first employee, you’re involved in HR. The minute founders of a firm decide how they’re going to divide up equity, that’s an HR decision.”
Avgar describes his course, Strategic Human Resource Management and the Entrepreneurial Firm, as “applied and practical”. The course examines the characteristics of entrepreneurial firms, including the ways they manage their employees and how these firms often offer a departure from conventional organizational and managerial models. The course aims to “apply strategic human resource management principles and practices to entrepreneurial firms throughout their various development stages.”
The students in Avgar’s class go through their own stages in the course’s curriculum. With the semester divided up into three sections, students are first given the opportunity to focus on big picture questions. “We look at what large corporations look at in terms of HR,” Avgar says. In the second portion, students examine the theories of entrepreneurship and where they originate, all the while keeping HR and people in the forefront of their studies. The last part of the class is focused on integrating the two prior sections, as well as a unit on intrapreneurship. Throughout the course, students work with case studies, preparing memos and a presentation. The class culminates with a group project where students develop an entrepreneurial human resource management initiative.
“The course works to give students a different view of their role in these firms and shows them what HR professionals can do to spur innovation in any setting, large or small,” Avgar says. He describes the classroom as a dynamic space where students are eager to take what they’ve learned into the real world. “There’s something exciting about thinking about entrepreneurship and applying it to an area they’re familiar with,” says Avgar.
In fact, many of Avgar’s students will go into human resource consulting after graduation. “Many large firms acquire start ups or entrepreneurial firms and then try to apply their HR models to those small firms,” Avgar says. “Our students will be able to go in and say, ‘well, that’s not always how things work.’”
Understanding that there is no one single recipe to entrepreneurial success, or HR management for that matter, is at the core of what Avgar hopes students take away. “It’s rewarding watching students do work that’s creative, exploiting an opportunity, or addressing a need,” says Avgar.
Avgar is currently at work exploiting his own opportunities. His course has been a success, and has now found its way into the course rotation in the School of Labor and Employment Relations. His experience as a Faculty Fellow for the Academy of Entrepreneurial Leadership has been a positive one, too. “I’m now being pushed to do a lot more academic thinking about how HR applies to the greater world.”
Entrepreneurial courses taught by Professor Avgar
LER 590, Strategic Human Resource Management and the Entrepreneurial Organization
Using the case method, this course will apply human resource principles and practices to entrepreneurial firms throughout their various developmental stages. The course will center around three stages in the life cycle of an entrepreneurial firm: organizational infancy (1-10 employees); growth and institutionalization (50- 150 employees); going global or being acquired by a much larger company (over 500 employees). Employing class lectures, case material analysis and discussion and guest speakers, the course will provide students with the understanding of the specific human resource needs at each of these organizational phases. In doing so, the course will illustrate the important strategic role of human resource management and its potential contribution to the sustainability and competitive advantage of entrepreneurial firms.
Visit Course Catalog website for course availability
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About Professor Avgar
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