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Research by PhD student is already making an impact

Travis Howell

Even though Travis Howell (PhD ’20) has not yet earned his PhD, his research is already making an impact.

His research interests include entrepreneurship, founders, coworking spaces and strategic management.

His focus is on how to build and sustain a good founding team, and how increasingly popular coworking spaces are changing entrepreneurship.

Howell’s study “Coworking’s Rapid Rise and Its Implications for Workers, Policies” received a 2019 Graduate Education Advancement Board Impact Award from the UNC Graduate School. The award recognizes graduate students’ powerful discoveries that contribute to a better future for people and communities in North Carolina. UNC’s Horizon/Impact Awards Selection Committee, comprised of faculty members from across campus, selected his work for the honor, which included a $500 award.

“Travis has generated key insights regarding the advantages and disadvantages of coworking. Importantly, he sheds needed light on the nature and impact of founder communities and provides guidance about how individuals can effectively work alone, together,” said his doctoral adviser Chris Bingham, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship, Phillip Hettleman Distinguished Scholar and area chair of strategy and entrepreneurship.

Howell’s robust agenda includes studies with Bingham to examine how cofounders can work together effectively as well as what solo founders can do to succeed. They also are working with Brad Hendricks, an accounting professor, on two studies: the impact of founders’ top-management-teams on firm performance, and how founders of large firms structure their top management teams to maintain control. In addition, he is exploring how firms develop internationalization capabilities with Bingham and Tim Ott, assistant professor of strategy and entrepreneurship.

Howell graduated from Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management where he earned a master’s and BS in accounting.

He went on to work as a consultant at PwC focusing on the valuation of intangible assets – technology, customer relationships, trademarks, technology – for mergers and acquisitions and management planning purposes. He performed valuations of both equity and debt securities for private equity firms. Clients ranged from Fortune 500 companies to small VC startup companies. He also worked in finance at IMSAR, a startup company in Utah developing advanced radar technology.

Support for doctoral students and education is critical to developing future faculty and research with impact. Howell has received the Strategy Research Foundation Dissertation Scholar grant in support of dissertation research in strategic management, and a Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise research grant. He was named a Kauffman Knowledge Challenge Fellow in 2018. The Kauffman Foundation seeks innovative approaches to address the biggest problems facing entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders. Howell won in the category that recognizes projects that show how policy outcomes affect entrepreneurs.

Read more about Howell’s research.