Robert Lusch, Entrepreneurship Chair and Former McGuire Center Director, To Retire

Robert Lusch, Ph.D., the James and Pamela Muzzy Chair in Entrepreneurship and former Executive Director of the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, has announced that he will retire in January.
November 16, 2016
Sarah Mauet

Robert Lusch, Ph.D., the James and Pamela Muzzy Chair in Entrepreneurship and former Executive Director of the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, has announced that he will retire in January. This news comes on the heels of yet another year full of academic achievement for Dr. Lusch who published two cross-disciplinary papers and a new textbook, and was recognized as an elite global scholar for the third year in a row.

Dr. Lusch grew up in Tucson, and after graduating from Tucson High School, he enrolled at the University of Arizona where he received undergraduate and master’s degrees in Business Administration. He received a Ph.D. in Business Administration with emphasis in Marketing and Accounting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1975, and he began his academic career at the University of Oklahoma, where he worked for 26 years, including 5 years as the dean of its business school. 

A prolific researcher, by 2000 when he became the dean of the M.J. Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University (TCU), he had already written 14 books and published 150 articles in a variety of professional journals. Four year later, Dr. Lusch returned to Tucson and the UA to head the Marketing Department in the Eller College of Management.

“Our family always thought that moving to Tucson and the UA would be special because of our past with the university and also because of its high quality and stature,” he said. “I think the most significant thing about returning home was my new role in the Marketing Department. Compared to when I was an undergraduate student in the mid- to late-60s, the Marketing Department had become a consensus top marketing department. Being around such a brilliant group of scholars made everyday a learning experience.”

Dr. Lusch was associated with entrepreneurship programs at Oklahoma and TCU, and when he became the Marketing Department head at Eller, he taught the marketing research course for the entrepreneurship major.

“It was my favorite course,” he said. “I enjoyed working with the student teams on their entrepreneurial ventures.”

In the Spring of 2005, his contributions to entrepreneurship education were acknowledged when he was named an Eller Entrepreneurship Fellow, an award given annually to an individual who demonstrates a continuing commitment to fostering entrepreneurship and innovation in Arizona, the nation, or the world. In 2010, Dr. Lusch received an endowed chair in entrepreneurship and was appointed the Executive Director of the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship.

“Being selected to lead the McGuire Center was a special honor,” he said. “Becoming the holder of the James and Pamela Muzzy Chair in Entrepreneurship helped to propel my research program in innovation. Having my name associated with the Muzzy name was a special honor because of their generosity and exceptional integrity.”

Between 2010-2014, when he led the McGuire Center, Dr. Lusch excelled at building relationships with stakeholders and used this skill to help connect them with students and faculty to enrich the learning experience.

During his tenure, he helped develop the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative, which fulfills the Eller College’s strategic objective that every student in the undergraduate business program graduates with transferable knowledge and skills in innovation and entrepreneurship. The Muzzy family became a major supporter of the course and established the Jim and Pam Muzzy Entrepreneurship and Innovation Lab, a classroom designed for collaborative and innovative learning.   

Dr. Lusch has continued to conduct cross-disciplinary entrepreneurship research, and this year he showed the breadth of entrepreneurial discovery possible when researches from different fields collaborate. He worked with Keith Joiner, Professor of Medicine, Cell Biology, and Health Promotion Services, to co-author "Evolving to a new service-dominant logic for health care," which was published in Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Health in January. In the March, Service Science published "Lessons from Nature: Enhancing the Adaptable Potential of Service Ecosystems," a project Dr. Lusch worked on with Zhen (Richard) Tang, a marketing doctoral student, and the late Rafe Sagarin, program director for oceans at Biosphere 2. 

Additionally, this fall saw the publication of a new text book, "Ethics, Economy, Entrepreneurship," that Dr. Lusch co-authored with two UA colleagues, Cate Johnson, Adjunct Instructor in Philosophy, and David Schmidtz, Kendrick Professor of Philosophy and founding director of the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom. The book challenges students to think about three broad ethical, economic, and entrepreneurial questions:

  1. How do people have to live in order to make the world a better place with them than without them?
  2. What kind of society makes people willing and able to use their talents in a way that is good for them and for the people around them?
  3. What does it take to show up in the marketplace with something that can take your community to a different level?

“We developed this book because of the need for college and high school students to understand the economy within the broader context of ethical and entrepreneurial behavior,” Dr. Lusch said. “In brief, we want students to discuss the connections between ethical, economic, and entrepreneurial dimensions of a life well-lived.”

Dr. Lusch has been recognized by many organizations for major contributions to the field of marketing; In 1997, the Academy of Marketing Science awarded him their Distinguished Marketing Educator Award, and in 2013, the American Marketing Association awarded him its most prestigious award for marketing scholars, the AMA/Irwin Distinguished Educator Award. Most recently, he has been honored three years in a row as a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher, an annual list recognizing leading researchers in the sciences and social sciences from around the world whose publications rank in the top 1 percent by citations for field in the Web of Science. Dr. Lusch was one of eight UA researchers listed and the only one in the Economics and Business discipline.

“Obtaining this recognition is an honor since I am compared not only to scholars in business and economics but to scholars across all academic fields,” Dr. Lusch said.

Dr. Lusch is well known for his work in service-dominant logic, which rests on the notion that the basis of all economies is the exchange of service among humans.

“Service-dominant logic has had a large impact on how industries and firms view their business,” he said. “For instance, a computer is a tangible good with a variety of attributes; however, people don’t need the attributes of the product per se they need the computing service it helps to deliver. The move to cloud computing is one example of recognizing that what customers need is not the computer per se, but the service it provides.” 

As a scholar, Dr. Lusch’s work on service-dominant logic has made him a world-renowned researcher and contributed mightily to the research reputation of both the McGuire Center and the Eller College, said McGuire Center Executive Director Joseph P. Broschak, Ph.D. 

“Bob Lusch’s impact on the Eller College and the McGuire Center have been immeasurable and indelible,” said Dr. Broschak. “As an executive director he has been instrumental in developing new programs, cultivating a strong donor base, and expanding the scope of activities and national reputation of the McGuire Center. His voice, passion, and wisdom are his legacy in the McGuire Center. Though in retirement Bob will spend more time focusing on his family and continuing with his scholarly work, Bob will always have a place in the McGuire Center. We wish him well and look forward to continuing our relationship well into the future.”