David Schmidtz Named New Eller Chair of Service-Dominant Logic

Jan. 11, 2017

The Eller Chair of Service-Dominant Logic joins three other McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship endowed chairs who conduct cross-disciplinary research in entrepreneurship and innovation. 

David Schmidtz, Ph.D., will hold the new Eller Chair of Service-Dominant Logic at the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship. Dr. Schmidtz, Kendrick Professor of Philosophy and Founding Director of the University of Arizona’s Center for the Philosophy of Freedom, focuses his research on political philosophy, political economy, and ethics.

The name of the new endowed chair honors Karl and Stevie Eller, who provided the generous gift to establish the chair, and Robert Lusch, Ph.D., the former McGuire Center Executive Director and James and Pamela Muzzy Chair in Entrepreneurship who pioneered research in Service-Dominant Logic (S-D). Dr. Lusch is retiring this month, and the chair will commemorate both his award-winning academic contributions to the fields of marketing and entrepreneurship, and his service in support of the McGuire Center.

"Bob wasn't interested in having a chair named after him, so I proposed naming it after the idea that he should be remembered for," said Dr. Schmidtz.

"My connection to Bob actually goes back to 1850," Dr. Schmidtz said, explaining that the philosopher Frederic Bastiat observed that organizations and societies are fundamentally concerned with the exchange of services. "Bob turned that observation into an illuminating concept. He developed Service-Dominant Logic and it has probably been the most important idea in marketing in the past decade. He has won national awards for it. He had a fundamental insight in the field of marketing that was as close as you can get to my interest in the intersection of economics and philosophy." 

Dr. Schmidtz is interested in returning philosophy to its origins before it split in the 1800s into the natural sciences and moral sciences, and then became further divided into separate economic and political studies in the 1900s.

"What we think of as university departments and disciplines are actually fairly recent, and the questions that define the departments are kind of new as well," Dr. Schmidtz said. "I’m trying to get philosophy back to where its roots were in the 1700s when political economy was part of it." 

As part of that effort, Dr. Schmidtz, Dr. Lusch and economist Cate Johnson, Ph.D., who teaches in the Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law Program, co-authored a new text book, Ethics, Economy, and Entrepreneurship, which was published this fall.  

"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." 

The book challenges students to think about three broad questions:

  1. How do people have to live in order to make the world a better place?
  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?

"It's not three different things in my mind," said Dr. Schmidtz. "This is what philosophy was originally, and when it got narrowed down and split into separate disciplines, something real was lost. We're recovering the discipline of studying what it takes for political animals and social animals to live good lives. It starts by figuring out how to make a living in a way that makes your community better off with you than without you." 

The book is also more than a book; it is the cornerstone of an innovative interactive program that trains and certifies high school teachers as instructors and provides curriculum resources on an online platform where teachers can share, discuss, rate, and download materials. It’s a rigorous course of study, and high school students who complete the class and pass the final exam can receive three course credits at the University of Arizona. Last year, one school in Sahaurita tested the program, this year nine schools in Tucson and Phoenix are using the book, and next year Dr. Schmidtz expects it will be taught in at least 15 Arizona schools. Additionally, he is meeting with colleagues in Mexico City this spring to discuss expanding the program there where currently thousands of high school seniors take courses that can also count for credit at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education.

The new Eller Chair of Service-Dominant Logic joins three other McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship endowed chairs who conduct cross-disciplinary research in entrepreneurship and innovation. Only the most outstanding scholars at the height of their careers are considered for one of the entrepreneurship-related endowed chairs. 

"We welcome David Schmidtz to the McGuire Center community of faculty, mentors, and scholars," said Executive Director Joseph P. Broschak, Ph.D. "We are delighted to be a part of supporting his research and outreach efforts and look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship."

A named endowed chair is a prestigious honor and a significant tribute for the chosen academician. Dr. Schmidtz said he feels privileged to have been selected to hold the chair and is looking forward to collaborating closely with the McGuire Center.

"It's the greatest honor I've received," he said. "I'm looking forward to trying to be worthy of it."