"If a student is interested in really becoming a leader, whether in a small or large organization, it's not technical training that is going to get you there, it's the birds-eye-view. We are giving specialized training with a constant awareness of how everything fits together. Philosophy of education, more than ever, is needed in business education."
"You actually have a relationship between the board of directors and the employees. If it's purely economic, it's missing something. You need to give people the right economic incentives not to screw other people. Building trust is something economics doesn't do."
"My main research interest is the topic of corporate governance and decision-making in financial contexts. Besides just economic incentives, I am also interested in understanding the cultural, political, and ethical factors at work in these decision-making processes."
"I believe that a diverse set of factors are at work in the learning process. For this reason, I am a strong believer in student classroom participation and promoting interdisciplinary thinking and discussion. So, in addition to rigorous mathematical modeling of finance problems, I cultivate subjective skills of application of financial tools in particular case settings where a wide range of financial and non-financial factors must be taken into account and woven together. To this end, I expect a lot of participation from my students."
"I am very excited to be at the Atkinson School because of these views on research and teaching. Here, I believe the best aspects of a liberal arts college spill over into management education in a way that creates a unique vision and educational experience that is not possible anywhere else."
After majoring in economics and Russian literature at Brigham Young University, Robert Couch received his Ph.D in financial economics at Carnegie Mellon University in 2004. He then taught at BYU's Marriott School of Business until joining the Atkinson faculty fall of 2009.
Couch had an early interest in political science, and he resisted another temptation to study Russian literature for grad school, deciding to pursue a Ph.D in economics instead. At Carnegie Mellon, finance was taught in the same department as economics, which spurred an interest in that field. His love for Russian literature and understanding of its deep, philosophical nature raised questions that Couch felt finance had moved away from. "Finance is an overly technical field," Couch said. "In some ways, my move from BYU to Willamette University is symbolic of a return to the arts." Couch added: "We've tried to make it too much of a science and forgotten the art. Can robots approximate human behavior? Whatever it is that makes us human, it's important to account for that."
Couch said many research universities have programs that are not very integrated across the disciplines. "As you specialize, you're cognizant of how it relates to other disciplines," he said. "Willamette is one of the few programs that's at a Liberal Arts School."
"Research schools often are more focused on practical application," Couch said. "As MBA education changes, it technologizes these. You just have these formulas. If a student is interested in really becoming a leader, whether in a small or large organization, it's not technical training that is going to get you there, it's the birds-eye-view. We are giving specialized training with a constant awareness of how everything fits together. Philosophy of education, more than ever, is needed in business education."
Soccer, tennis, skiing, reading philosophy, backpacking, fly-fishing, etc. I grew up in Southeast Idaho, a few hours away from Jackson Hole Wyoming. I'm excited about living in the northwest, because you've got great skiing on mountains close by. In theory, when we have time, that kind of lifestyle is great.
Marriot School Research Grant 2004-2007, Finance Society’s Best Undergraduate Teaching Award (BYU) 2005-2006, Carnegie Bosch Institute International Management Fellowship 2002-2003, Humane Studies Fellowship 2001-2002, William Larimer Mellon Fellowship 1998-2001, Research Scholarship Award (BYU) 1996-1997
Selected Professional Activities
Ad Hoc Referee for the Journal of Finance, Ad Hoc Referee for the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis
The Long-Run Underperformance of Acquiring IPO Firms (with James Brau and
Brief Summary: We find that only firms that acquire within the first year of going public underperform. Non-acquiring IPO firms do not underperform.
Private Investment and Public Stock Returns
Brief Summary: I find that loser and growth portfolios are significantly correlated with proxy measures of private investment opportunities and tightening credit conditions.
Portfolio Choice with Complementary Housing
Brief Summary: Using model simulations, I find that the complementarity of preferences for nondurable consumption and housing services can significantly increase the average risk aversion displayed in household portfolio-choice allocations. Also, in the presence of moving costs, aggregate measures of the elasticity of substitution between housing services and nondurable consumption can be misleading. Using macrodata, I show that, in contrast to findings based on macrodata, household behavior is most consistent with strong complementarity in preferences for housing and nondurable consumption.
Working papers (under review or in process):
"Private Investment and Public Equity Returns"
"Portfolio Choice with Complementary Housing"
"The Impact of Acquisitions on Long-Run Performance of IPOs" with James Brau and Ninon K. Sutton
"Belief, Commitment and Managerial Overconfidence" with Joseph Spencer
"Philosophical Reflections on the Political Non-neutrality of Corporations" with Joseph Spencer
Work in Progress:
Consumption, Housing and Savings: Evidence from Spain
Stock Prices and the Business Cycle: The Role of R&D (with Norman Schuerhoff)
Regulation, Contracts and Trust: How Enforcement Can Erode Trust (with Stanley Knapp)
Altruistic Behavior: Philosophical Conceptions and Interpretations (with Joseph Spencer)
IPO Acquiring Behavior, Underwriter Rank and VC-Funding: Institutional vs. Maverick Strategies