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Rosanna Garcia

Name:  Rosanna Garcia
Role:  Associate Professor of Marketing & Innovation, Poole College of Management
Education:  Ph.D. in Marketing, Michigan State University Eli Broad Graduate School of Business, 2002; MBA, University of Rochester Simon Business School, 1988; B.S., Chemical Engineering and B.A., Business Economics, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1984

Innovation and sustainability are two areas Dr. Rosanna Garcia is passionate about, especially when it comes to understanding how innovations gain traction and are accepted in the marketplace.  Among other topics and issues, she has looked at how sustainable innovations come to be embraced while others struggle for acceptance – in particular, electric vehicles, car sharing and alternative energy sources for the home.

“I have a personal interest in sustainability,” Garcia said.  Among her research is a recent study on how markets are reacting to disruptive new forces in transportation with the growing adoption of alternative fuel vehicles.  Although they’re popular and eco-friendly, Garcia said price and infrastructure have been barriers to adoption – but players in the market have opportunities to change this.

Since she joined the faculty of the Poole College of Management as associate professor of marketing in 2014, Dr. Garcia has worked with the Innovation & Design Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Cluster, as well as with the Poole College Business Sustainability Collaborative, which partners students, faculty and alumni with businesses and nonprofits to promote sustainable business practices.

Dr. Garcia said she’s passionate not only about innovation and sustainability, but about creating opportunities for female entrepreneurs. “There’s recognition that companies with a female in a top management role have a greater chance for success,” Garcia said.  Through her work at NC State, she hopes to show the women she teaches how they, too, can go on to create businesses that will shape the innovations of the future.

Q:  In your research into innovations, are there any that stand out that we might expect to see develop in the future – innovations whose day is coming?

A:  Under the umbrella of diffusion of innovation, I’m interested in a variety of products and why they’re not always accepted right away. Self-driving cars are really interesting and inevitable. This aligns with robotics. Do consumers trust robots?  American movies such as The Terminator suggest we should not. How much trust is needed by consumers before driver-less automobiles control the motorways? How good must the technology be? This is a good example of how the consumer-technology interface impacts the acceptance of an innovation.

Q:  As an innovator, does your job give you opportunities to learn from your students?

A:  Yes, and particularly from our entrepreneurship students.  I really enjoy their enthusiasm and their ideas. One thing they’ve taught me is perseverance – the “go out and do it until you’re successful attitude.”

Q:  In your work with students, what concepts & ideas about sustainability do you present, and how do you hope they’ll benefit from these?

A:  I’m especially interested in the role of sustainability in product development, but also the role of the consumer in sustainability. So, I introduce the ideas behind “cradle to cradle” in the product development process, particularly how at the end-of-life of a product what seems to be useless materials can go on to become a new product, for example, the ideas of composting, reusing and upcycling. With that being said, if the consumer doesn’t play his or her role, that life cycle doesn’t work. It’s very important to educate consumers and involve them in that development process.

Also, I want my students to learn about the idea of B corporations and the triple bottom line.  Business sustainability is about the longevity of the organization, not just how do we keep our company profitable.  If you look at business solely on a quarter-to-quarter basis, you have to have a short-term focus because you’re thinking about your shareholders. But if you are a B corporation, you’re thinking long-term about how you keep your corporation alive while at the same time thinking about how we can keep our resources in place as long as possible.  Sustainability is just as much about firm longevity as it is an environmental focus.

Q:  Tell us about your work in the Innovation & Design Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Cluster, and how you’ve been able to collaborate with other faculty.

A:  The Chancellor’s multidisciplinary program gives us an opportunity to begin to break down the silos here at the university.  Part of that is networking with other faculty, especially in the areas of technology. Because of my role in the Cluster, I recently received a grant with Dr. Annett-Hitchcock of the College of Textiles to work on encouraging more of our female students and faculty to pursue entrepreneurship. Our group, the Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs, hosts a pitch competition for women-led firms during Global Entrepreneurship Week. I also get to work with the Entrepreneurs Initiative on Centennial Campus. The cluster allows me to migrate around campus to find the interesting innovations that are coming from our world-class faculty and students. It’s a perfect job for me!