A trained ballet dancer from Calgary, Canada, Erin Bass performed in the United States for nine years. Unfortunately the life of a ballerina does not last forever, and Bass saw she could apply her life experiences to a new career by enrolling in the Ph.D. program in management at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business Administration.
“I’m interested in strategy and entrepreneurship, and they’ve both been influenced by my upbringing,” Bass said. “Calgary is an oil town, and my first corporate experience was with an oil and gas company. That gave me an interest in studying the strategic initiatives that happen on a daily basis in oil companies such as exit strategies, merges and acquisitions.”
Her interest in entrepreneurship came from her life as a ballet dancer.
Erin Bass (far right) danced professionally for nine years
“I’ve worked with people who have tremendous artistic ability, amazing visions and can put together something really beautiful – yet they lack the business acumen to understand practical business decisions such as costs, developing support networks and looking at the big picture of financial feasibility. I’m interested in how artists can also become entrepreneurs,” she explained.
Her interest in empowering people to become entrepreneurs has broadened to include emerging markets.
“Working with my advisor, Subrata Chakrabarty, assistant professor of management, I began to see how the same idea of empowerment can apply to people in emerging economies who may not have the business knowledge or financial resources to fully execute a business plan. The question becomes, how do we help entrepreneurs in these markets?”
Bass’ research looks at data sets involving micro-finance organizations that lend relatively small amounts of money to individuals with a solid business plan.
“They lend maybe 20 or 50 dollars to help someone buy a sewing machine to make clothing or help buy a cow, so they can sell milk,” Bass said.
Bass consults with professor Dr. Mary Uhl-Bien
An interesting dynamic of the research is in many societies women have been shown to have a better standing with micro-financers.
“Although women have been shown to be better borrowers in terms of paying back loans and starting successful micro-enterprises, there’s also a chasm regarding lending to these women. In many markets, they are not seen as equal to men.”
Bass has published four research papers. One of her recent articles, “Institutionalizing Ethics in Institutional Voids,” looks at the ethical treatment of lending to women in emerging markets and is published in the Journal of Business Ethics
. She is currently on the job market seeking to continue her academic career and is on track to receive her Ph.D. next spring.