Andrew Nelson

Faculty Spotlight: Andrew Nelson

Andrew Nelson is an associate professor of management and Randall C. Papé Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Lundquist College of Business. He also serves as the University of Oregon’s associate vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation and as academic director of the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship.

Nelson’s expertise includes technology entrepreneurship, science commercialization, and the relationship between technological and occupational change. His research on these topics has been published in several journals, including the Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, and Organization Science, as well as in two books.

Nelson received his PhD in management science and engineering from Stanford University, where he subsequently served as a lecturer. He also holds a master’s degree from Oxford University and a dual BA from Stanford University.

What is your current research?

My work investigates the evolution of new technologies and technology-based fields. That means that I’ve investigated settings ranging from sustainable chemistry to internet search to digital audio, attempting to understand how and why technologies emerge and grow as they do.

I focus especially on the role that university research plays in seeding new fields and on how occupations interact with new technologies.

One of my current projects is a study of why legacy technologies like vinyl records, single-speed bikes, film cameras, and analog music synthesizers are coming back. Another project is looking at how occupations not only change in the face of new technologies, but also how they shape the development of those same technologies.

What should the public know about your research? Why is your topic important?

Arguably, technological change is one of the most important and influential features of our time. Technological change opens new business opportunities, but also it threatens the very existence of some organizations and industries. It opens new career pathways but threatens to put millions out of work or to fundamentally change the character of their jobs.

My research helps us to better understand patterns of technological change and, more importantly, to understand how key groups, like universities and occupation members, can both shape and respond to changes.

Why is studying entrepreneurship and innovation relevant for society?

Given the dramatic social and economic impact of entrepreneurship and innovation, it’s critical that we base our business and policy decisions on rigorous data and analytic frameworks. That’s exactly what academic studies do.

As we engage with new technologies like artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, and personalized medicine, the stakes are high and the challenges can be significant—but the opportunities are enormous and inspiring as well.