Interview with Brian Fugate, Associate Professor at Colorado State University


Question: You have been in Zaragoza for 3 months now thanks to the Fulbright Senior Research Scholar Program. During this period you have been working on the research project “Supply Chain Collaboration and Sustainability: Cross-Cultural Dynamics across Spain and the United Stated”. How is it going?

The research is going very well.  Dr. Sáenz and I have been collaborating on research that builds on her work in dynamic capabilities.  We are analyzing three distinct, but related sets of data to understand the performance impact of absorptive capacity and other behavioral variables in buyer-supplier relationships.  Particularly interesting is that our research is looking at how these buyer-supplier dynamics change over time.  I’m very excited about this research and have high expectations for it in terms of publications as well as helping managers in their supplier management decisions.  Dr. Sáenz and I also plan on working on horizontal collaboration research that helps advance the Physical Internet agenda. 

I’m also excited about other collaborative opportunities.  In my new role at the University of Arkansas, I’ll be working with both The Sustainability Consortium and Agriculture faculty on sustainability and security in the food industry.  I’ve had discussions with both Susanna Val and Luca Urciuoli about potential collaborative projects in those areas. 

So my time here at ZLC has provided the opportunity to lay the groundwork for several projects that I believe will be very fruitful for years to come.

Question: Your CV is very impressive, indicating finely tuned time management skills. How do you manage to coordinate research, writing and teaching – in themselves 3 extremely demanding areas – yet maintain high standards across the board?

The simplest answer is that I really enjoy it, believe it is important, and have been fortunate to work with great colleagues.  I love it, so naturally keep working at it, being persistent, and keep asking questions. 

Question: Do you have a personal preference, or do you enjoy the mix that evolves?

In the U.S., the three main roles are typically divided into research (which includes the writing), teaching, and outreach (or service to university, businesses/community, and academia).  I believe true excellence in one area requires excellence in all areas.  It is all about learning for me.  I see my objective as helping managers and future managers (current students) learn how to learn (and adapt to the dynamic business world), not just facts, tools, or techniques.  For me to help them learn how to learn most effectively, I must be active in learning how to learn, which is a synonym for what we call research.  Research is, at the core, a learning process.  So excellence in research provides the foundation to be excellence in teaching and ultimately impacting business. 

Question: How important is the practical application of your research in general?

Following my answer above about the three areas being heavily intertwined, I think all good research starts with outreach/interaction with business.  Also, I believe research must be practical – it must at least attempt to impact business.  If I can’t see that connection, even if long-term, then I’m not interested in it. 

Question: How has been the experience of interacting with the Behavioral Supply Chain Research Group of ZLC? Do you have any fond memories to take away with you?

My experience with ZLC has been fantastic.  I’ve really enjoyed my time here, and have learned tremendous amount about the Spanish and European culture in terms of both research and lifestyle.  I owe a lot to the ZLC faculty and staff, who have gone far and above to help me during my visit.  I’m very thankful to them. 

I’ve had many fond memories here; insightful and enjoyable conversations over dinner, watching our children play together at parks, and hallway conversations.  One of my favorite memories is passing the American football with Luca and Jose (Maria’s husband).