Publisher of Humanities, Social Science & STEM Books
Betsy  Campbell Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Betsy Campbell

Assistant Professor
Penn State University

Entrepreneurship as practice, Innovation, Ethnomethodology, Conversation Analysis, Democratization of Innovative Entrepreneurship


Dr. Betsy Campbell’s research focuses on the practices of teams at the forefront of scientific discovery, technological innovation, and new venture creation. Earlier in her career Campbell did research at Harvard University and co-directed the MIT Community Innovation Lab. She also won a Ghiso Fellowship to study at the Yale University Center for Bioethics and was a Visiting Scholar at the Hastings Center. Campbell was the founder of two high-tech ventures and one non-profit — Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs — which now has several chapters worldwide. As an intrapreneur, her work helped position a software company for a $1.5B acquisition by Lucent Technologies. Campbell is an active member of the Explorers Club. Previously she served as a sub-committee co-chair for the Harvard Alumni Association Board of Directors. She also has been an invited judge many times for the MIT IDEAS venture competition.

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Social Justice, Teams, Practices, Ethnomethodology


Featured Title
 Featured Title - Practice Theory in Action: Campbell - 1st Edition book cover



Review of Practice Theory in Action in Organization Studies

By: Betsy Campbell
Subjects: Applied Linguistics, Business, Management and Accounting, Communication Studies, English Language & Linguistics

The review appears in Organization Studies. It isauthored by Neil Thompson and begins with:

"This book affixes entrepreneurship studies to workplace studies by advancing the analyses of authentic workplace conversations of innovative entrepreneurial teams. At the heart of the book lies the notion that ‘what people actually do in practice can be very different from what they think they do’. Campbell convincingly articulates that careful attention to actual ‘backstage’ interaction – rather than more common retrospective interviews, surveys or ‘frontstage’ performances – enables entrepreneurship researchers to unravel the link between observable exchanges and the organizing of a new venture. Although not a definitive source on the subject matter, this makes for fascinating reading and provides a solid foundation for the analysis of real-time conversation in entrepreneurship scholarship."

New books published by alumni

By: Betsy Campbell

New books published by alumni

Betsy Campbell, (PhD Management Studies, 2014) has published a new book called Practice Theory in Action: Empirical Studies of Interaction in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The book explores intra-team interaction in workplace settings devoted to technological breakthroughs and innovative entrepreneurship. By focusing on the observable language of teams in action, the book reveals the situated practices that teams use to enact their work, including the means by which team members verbally grapple with the uncertainties inherent in doing work in uncharted domains. It presents important findings about the conversational accomplishment of work and demonstrates the value of examining the practices of teams in action.

Hip-hop and higher education

By: Betsy Campbell
Subjects: Applied Arts & Music, Audio, Business, Management and Accounting, Economics, Finance, Business & Industry, Education

Hip-hop and higher education: New Penn State course offers its own spin on Schoolhouse Rock curriculum

In the fall of 2019, Penn State will offer a new course, which hopes to combine art, education and entrepreneurship with an ode to Schoolhouse Rock.

Betsy Campbell, assistant professor of education with a research focus on entrepreneurship as practice and the democratization of innovative entrepreneurship, created this course alongside co-professor, Scott McDonald.

The course, AcceleratorRap!, is associated with credit in art, music, English, education and the new media ENTI cluster. It is still considered an experimental course – meaning its addition to the current curriculum is still undecided.

Campbell said the course is heavily inspired by the 1970s short animation series, Schoolhouse Rock. The show revolved around educational lyrics overlaid upon a catchy, rhythmic beat.

“It was very successful at teaching these basics to kids across the U.S., regardless of their cultural or socioeconomic backgrounds,” Campbell said. “Given that entrepreneurial skills are considered to be essential in the present day, I wondered if a series of short digital animations with contemporary beats could be used to teach entrepreneurial ideas to kids across the web. And with that in mind, I began sharing vision for AcceleratorRap! with people here at Penn State.”

Students will work in interdisciplinary terms to create short multimedia pieces by the end of the semester. Different units will cover core competencies of entrepreneurship. The course will end with a design critique project that allows students to showcase their final pieces.

“Entrepreneurship often is misunderstood as a kind of financial work,” Campbell said. “This course does not assume that entrepreneurship is off to the side of a student’s main interest or major. Instead, students use the things they know – such as music or poetry – to demonstrate that they are mastering entrepreneurial basics in ways relevant to them.”

Campbell, along with her fellow associates, agreed that the goal is to adapt the structure of the course to its most effective state. In the future, she said she hopes the curriculum is adopted by universities and other learning contexts beyond Penn State.

Brian Alfred was invited to work on developing the course alongside Campbell. His main area of focus was the art and animation design.

“It was a very interesting process working with people in other areas and fields,” Alfred, assistant professor of art, said. “We worked together cohesively with education, music, art and innovation ideas.”

Throughout the duration of the class, students working with animations will collaborate closely with their poet, writer and musician counterparts. They will each take part in bringing a historical event to life, according to Alfred.

“I’m really excited for this course to be alive and for people to take it,” Alfred said. “I really hope it becomes an opportunity for students to do something that’s unlike any other class they’ve ever had.

Victor Ariyo’s lifelong passion and connection to rap music made him an ideal candidate to write and produce some of the course’s soundtrack.

Ariyo (senior-biomedical engineering) was tasked with filing through different case studies to collect information on famous entrepreneurs and their stories, such as Gaynor Minden.

“She’s an entrepreneur who came up with the idea to innovate ballet shoes,” Ariyo said. “I was able to create a song about her case, while empowering students to become entrepreneurs.”

Ariyo serves as a prime example of an entrepreneur in the arts. As a senior in college, he is the co-founder and CEO of his own company, Wavlength, which provides a tech platform and consulting services for independent artists.

“All this experience in the business really helped with creating this course because I got to work and collaborate with people every day,” Ariyo said. “This is dope because not only is it fostering creativity, but it’s encouraging students to pursue this field.”

New course to allow students to tune into diversity, entrepreneurship

By: Betsy Campbell

Jim Carlson
March 13, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — If a little rap music can add diversity to the entrepreneurship ecosystem, then Betsy Campbell is in tune with that.

Campbell, assistant professor of education in the College of Education with a research focus on entrepreneurship as practice and the democratization of innovative entrepreneurship, is co-teaching a course with Scott McDonald, associate professor of science education, in the fall 2019 semester, titled Accelerator Rap. The course is cross-listed as 497 in education, art, music and English. The course also is pre-approved in the New Media Cluster of the entrepreneurship and innovation (ENTI) minor and may be the first step toward creating an ENTI minor in the College of Education.

In the course, interdisciplinary teams of students will learn about entrepreneurial fundamentals and express what they are learning through their primary interests, according to Campbell.

"The course doesn't expect people to study entrepreneurship on the side of their main interests. Instead we're empowering students to use the skills that they are honing in their majors to bring an entrepreneurial concept and case to life," Campbell said. "Students will create short, multimedia pieces that remind some of us of 'Schoolhouse Rock'. However, these animated musical pieces will be digital and will teach entrepreneurial fundamentals to kids over the web."

While the course may attract students who already are interested in entrepreneurship, others may take it simply because of its creative edge.

"People who are already performing or otherwise creating beats and contemporary music, people who are interested in animation and drawing, and anyone who's interested in learning to work within an interdisciplinary team," should consider taking Accelerator Rap, Campbell said. 

"No matter what your major is, when you graduate, you're going to have to work with people from different backgrounds and with different skillsets. This is a good chance for students to collaborate with peers from across campus; to discover how people from other disciplines approach their work and how we can work together on a shared project," she added.

Campbell will teach case studies and key concepts of entrepreneurship. Professors who teach poetry, visual arts, curriculum development, and music will collaborate by relaying their specialties in class-based workshops.

The students will render the animations, write the lyrics, and compose the beats, before performing, recording and integrating the works. The end result will be informal educational materials in the form of multimedia pieces that teach entrepreneurial basics to children who might not otherwise imagine themselves as a future entrepreneur.

"The students will work in interdisciplinary teams and each team will produce one multimedia piece," Campbell said. "The semester will finish with a design critique that will be semi-public and open to everybody who's been part of the workshops along the way."

The class itself, Campbell said, is one part of a larger interdisciplinary movement related to issues of diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship. Campbell is working toward the creation of a new center that does scholarly research, offers courses and creates a community of practice focused on changing the demographics of entrepreneurship.

"A curriculum that works in Silicon Valley doesn't necessarily work in other contexts. Learning opportunities imported from other contexts often attract people who already see themselves as entrepreneurs," she said.

"I'm interested in finding out how we can make entrepreneurship relevant to people who traditionally have been outside of entrepreneurial careers; to more women, people of color and people from working-class communities, for example," added Campbell. "Part of my research investigates how entrepreneurship is taught and whether changes in the context and curriculum can influence who is interested in entrepreneurship and who becomes a successful entrepreneur."

Campbell said the case studies used in the class will feature entrepreneurs who come from underrepresented backgrounds. She started Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs, a 501(c)3 which she grew to about 6,000 people around the world before leaving to attend to her terminally ill father. (The organization's current membership is nearly 10,000). 

She also founded for-profit ventures, and has had the experience of being the only woman involved in a team or in a fund-raising meeting.

"I know something about what it means to be 'other' in the entrepreneurial ecosystem," she said.

Campbell, who this year will have two books published with Routledge — "Practice theory in action: Empirical Studies of Interaction in Innovation and Entrepreneurship" and "The innovator's discussion: The conversational skills of entrepreneurial teams" — said students in the Accelerator Rap class will tell the story of a particular case study and emphasize a particular entrepreneurial concept.

"But the sonic and rhythmic way they do that is up to them," she said. "We're not orthodox about a particular kind of beat. We've selected the word 'rap' to signal a contemporary kind of sound more than a particular genre," Campbell said.

Through the course, its output and other efforts, Campbell is attempting to change the meanings people associate with entrepreneurship.

"Helping people recognize that regardless of your background, you can create high-impact innovative ventures is important," she said. "The class is an experiment and an exciting chance to explore how entrepreneurship can be reinterpreted and made relevant to more people."


Jim Carlson

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Last Updated March 20, 2019