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New Ivey faculty: Joshua Foster

  • Communications
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  • Aug 5, 2021
New Ivey faculty: Joshua Foster

Ivey welcomes 12 new faculty members to campus! To help you get to know our new colleagues, we asked each of them a list of questions about their academic – and personal – interests.

Get to know: Joshua Foster

Joshua Foster has spent nearly half of his life in business schools across North America, first to gain an education and then while teaching for more than a decade. He is excited to join Ivey as an assistant professor in the Business, Economics, and Public Policy group where he will be teaching a new HBA2 course, Behavioural Economics, and the MBA course, Economics, Markets, and Strategy. Foster has a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Bentley University and a PhD in Economics from the University of Arkansas. Before coming to Ivey, he previously taught first at Whitman College and then the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh College of Business. His research focuses on fundraising methods and mechanism design problems in business. He is also the co-founder of Thrive Mind Consulting, LLC, and a co-creator, with Ivey colleague Shannon Rawski, of Transform Workplaces, an online anti-sexual harassment training specifically for interns and early-career individuals. Foster said his career as a behavioural economist began after reading the book Freakonomics, which applies economic theory to diverse subjects. That’s when he knew wanted to continue studying economics.

Q&A with Joshua Foster

What is the most important thing business executives can learn from your research/area of expertise?

Broadly speaking, I like to impress an appreciation for how seemingly small changes to an environment can be the cause of meaningful changes in behaviour and organizational outcomes. In this way, I encourage leaders of any organization to understand their role through the lens of a “choice architect,” who can utilize psychology and economic incentives together to shape the decision-making process within each decision node of an organization. 

Where did you grow up and what was it like there?

I grew up in a small town in northern Maine, just over the border from New Brunswick. The small amount of French I have learned came from listening to CBC Radio. I am the son of two entrepreneurs, each of whom ran businesses when I was young. I remember most nights at the dinner table involved listening to my parents discussing cash flows, staffing, and strategy. I spent a lot of time in nature where I fished, canoed, and camped in the summer, and skied in the winter. 

Who have been your strongest influences in life?

First and foremost is my family, who taught me the value of hard work.  After that, it would be the many teachers and business leaders who have mentored me over the years. 

What led you to your career?

Growing up in a small farming community in northern Maine meant I didn’t know anyone who had a PhD until I went to college. During that time, I made a friend whose parents had earned PhDs, and through getting to know them, I learned about the great careers academia can offer.  

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I am slowly discovering all of the playgrounds in London with my three-year-old daughter. 

What is the most played song on your playlist as of now?

Probably something by Vampire Weekend.  

What book would you recommend to others? On the personal side?

On the personal side, I recommend A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers.

On the business side?

On the professional side I recommend Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.