Gerrit Wolf is an industrial and organizational psychologist who has focused on entrepreneurship. His students have started or joined growing technology-based businesses in New York, where he started entrepreneurship classes 20 years ago; in Budapest, where he held Fulbright’s Alexander Hamilton Chair of Entrepreneurship in 1993; and in Stockholm, where he was the first Fulbright Chair of Wireless E-Commerce in 2001.
He and his students have also consulted for a range of firms, including Symbol Technologies and Ericsson. He has published more than 60 academic articles on conflict management, managerial decision-making and leadership. He currently researches wireless impact on organizations and consumers. He is a past dean of the Harriman School for Management and Policy at Stony Brook and has had academic and administrative appointments at the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Arizona and Yale University.
Wolf grew up on the North Shore of Chicago and has a PhD from Cornell University in organizational psychology and a BS from Hope College.
Q. Why did you select your field?
As an undergrad psychology major and editor of the Hope College newspaper, I became interested in the psychology of work and liked managing people. I decided to put these experiences together to pursue a PhD in social and industrial psychology at Cornell, but could have had a management career in business. Most psychology majors are attracted to clinical psychology because they want to help sick people get well. I, by contrast, wanted to help healthy people be effective.
Q. What attracted you to Stony Brook?
I came to SBU as a senior faculty member to build a management school that was like the School of Management at Yale where I had been a junior faculty member. I accomplished building the Harriman Management and Policy School.
Q. What do you hope to accomplish while you are here?
I am now building an Innovation Center in the College of Business that grew out of the Harriman School. The Innovation Center supports student and faculty inventors and entrepreneurs in startups. The idea is to connect entrepreneurs to the great engineering and science research at SBU.
Q. Tell us something about yourself that we might be surprised to know.
I was a chaired professor of entrepreneurship at the Budapest School of Economics in 1993 to help startups with the new market economy. I wanted to return after traveling in Central Europe as an undergrad and being in Berlin when the Wall went up in August of 1961.
Q. What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you when you were a student?
I have had a fulfilling career. It was not because I listened to people, but I learned from summer experiences as a salesman for [educational publisher] Britannica, research assistant for a market research firm, and reporter for a Chicago newspaper. I followed what I thought was interesting, and I tell students to find out what each of them finds interesting and makes each one happy in the long run.