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Speaker promotes book, explains opportunity cost

news senior writer

Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 8, 2012 12:11

Scott Schaerer speaks on economics

Scott Schaefer, a visiting professor of economics and finance speaks on economics of organizations. Delayne Locke photo

For aspiring entrepreneurs, business, accounting and marketing majors or students wanting to learn about successful small company growth strategies, the Huntsman School hosted a Dean’s Convocation on Wednesday afternoon.


Scott Schaefer, finance professor from the University of Utah, spoke to USU students in the Orson A. Christensen Auditorium.


“I’m not going to talk at all about elections,” Schaefer said as he opened his speech. “This is an election-free zone. I’m going to talk about business. So let the election go, just let it go for now.”


Schaefer’s speech was based on a book project called “The Roadside MBA” that he is currently working on with two of his colleagues, Mike Mazzeo from Northwestern University and Paul Oyer from Stanford University. Schaefer said the three of them were at an economist conference when they visited a shoe store in Kittery, Maine. Hearing about a secret shopper program from the sales associates there, he began talking to them about the different incentives companies use to motivate their employees. His colleagues soon joined in.


Schaefer said the whole time, they were thinking about how what was being said related to economic frameworks they’d been teaching MBA students for more than a decade.


“The whole drive back to Boston, all the three of us could talk about was how awesome the secret shopper program at the shoe store in Kittery, Maine was,” Schaefer said. “One thing that we got out of that is there are so many amazing stories out there that can be tied to the economic frameworks.”


He said he wished he’d had 30 MBA students there to hear what he had learned.


“And so that was the start of this project,” he said.


In the spring of 2009, Schaefer, Mazzeo and Oyer set out on a road trip to visit small companies and learn their success strategies.


“If we learn a lot, we’ll write a book about it,” Schaeffer said he told his colleagues. “And we’ll call it Roadside MBA and we’ll sell a million copies and be rich and famous.”

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