OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of business

College of Business Dean Ilene Kleinsorge announces retirement

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Ilene Kleinsorge, dean and Sara Hart Kimball chair of the College of Business and executive dean of the Division of Business and Engineering at Oregon State University announced today that she will retire from OSU effective June 30.

“The significant impact of Dean Kleinsorge’s contributions to the College of Business, the university and the local and regional business communities will continue long after she retires,” said Provost Sabah Randhawa. “Her commitment to alumni, students, faculty and staff is reflected in the enduring relationships she has cultivated, the college’s collaborative community, the business partnerships she has created and students who are graduating and entering the work force prepared and ready to make an immediate impact.”

Under her leadership, the college raised more than $78 million in private philanthropy during The Campaign for OSU. More than $30 million of those gifts were for the construction of Austin Hall, the new 100,000-square foot home for the College of Business that opened in fall 2014. It was under Kleinsorge’s guidance that the funding was secured; the building was planned for, designed, built and opened.

Austin Hall accommodates more than 5,800 students each year, which includes 3,900 business majors and pre-majors, nearly 850 business and entrepreneurship minors and more than 800 design students. The college also teaches service courses for more than 1,500 students from outside of the College of Business. 

Kleinsorge, who started at OSU as an assistant accounting professor in 1987, was appointed dean in March 2003. Other accomplishments achieved under her tenure as dean include: 

  • Revising curriculum to create discipline specific majors and establishing a competitive professional school model, which requires students to apply for and be accepted into the college;
  • Growth of graduate programs including the launch of the first business doctoral program and the diversification of the MBA program to meet market demand;
  • Integrating the design majors into the College of Business;
  • Establishing a college specific Career Success Center;
  • Launching the Austin Entrepreneurship Program;
  • Collaborating with the university and the Office of Commercialization and Corporate Development to launch the Advantage Accelerator.

“It has been a privilege to lead, serve and be a part of such an accomplished community of alumni, students, faculty and staff,” said Kleinsorge. “Together we have evolved our curriculum, experiential learning opportunities and programs to provide a business education that prepares our graduates to be ready to work in the local, regional, national and global economies.”

Kleinsorge served as department chair of Accounting, Finance and Information Management from 1995-2001 and again from 2001-02. She serves as a technical adviser for the Governor’s Oregon Innovation Council; is the treasurer for Benton Hospice Board of Directors; and she is a member of the Advantage Accelerator Advisory Board; the University Budget Committee; and the Campus Planning Committee. She is also the university representative for the local Economic Vitality Partnership in Corvallis.

She has served as past chair of the Western Association of Collegiate Schools of Business; as a member of the Executive Commercialization Advisory Council; and has been active in community service including being on the Corvallis Chamber board of directors; co-chaired a capital campaign for an advocacy center for the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence; and held various positions on the Majestic Theatre board.   

Kleinsorge earned her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas and her B.S. from Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. As an associate professor her teaching and research focused on cost and managerial accounting systems, with an emphasis on multi-national companies and health care.

Randhawa said a national search will be conducted for a new dean.

Media Contact: 

Jenn Casey, 541-737-0695, jenn.casey@oregonstate.edu

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Steve Clark, 541-737-3808, steve.clark@oregonstate.edu

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Kleinsorge

Ilene Kleinsorge

Advantage Accelerator “graduates” moving toward successful new businesses, jobs

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Four promising startup companies in fields ranging from social media to chemical manufacturing are among the first “graduating class” of the Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator, upon completion of a program designed to help lead them toward commercial success.

Organizers of the new program say it’s off to a promising start in efforts to bring more university research and community ideas to the commercial marketplace. This and other elements of the OSU Advantage form partnerships with industry and work to boost the Oregon economy, while providing invaluable experiences for OSU students involved in many aspects of the program.

“Our program has unfolded as well or better than we had hoped, and we now plan to increase the output,” said John Turner, co-director of the Advantage Accelerator. “Completion of this program means that companies have an increased chance to succeed and have a step-by-step plan to approach the future.”

“Based on our experience in the first year of this program, we’ve decided to conduct two cohort groups each year rather than one,” Turner said. “The coming year will result in about 15-20 new startup companies.”

Success in a tough and competitive commercial marketplace is not automatic, however, and not all companies have the will and strength to complete the rigorous program.

The first graduates have completed a “portfolio” of accomplishments, Turner said, that included training to attract investors, a validated business model, a schedule for future steps, and an initial product to show prospective customers, investors or manufacturers. A few clients are already attracting attention through the sale of products and generating profit.

The OSU Advantage Accelerator provides mentoring with industry and entrepreneurial experts, consulting sessions, access to seed grants and the OSU Venture Fund, meetings with active investors, workshops on various topics, networking events and many other activities.

One of the early participants in the program, Onboard Dynamics of Bend, Ore., plans to market technology that could ultimately revolutionize the way America drives. It has developed systems that compress natural gas right in the vehicle and take advantage of the enormous current supplies of low-cost natural gas. The innovation is able to cut automobile fuel costs to the gasoline-equivalent of less than $1 a gallon.

“An intern working with the Advantage Accelerator performed a lot of tasks relating to market analysis and startup activities that were incredibly helpful to the company,” said CEO Rita Hansen.

“We’re in an excellent position right now, having been formally selected by the Department of Energy for a $2.88 million award, and our initial target markets are the underserved, small, light-duty commercial fleets,” Hansen said. “We’re very bullish about widespread adoption by these fleets of our products.”

A few other companies that have completed the program include:

  • Pikli, a student-based company based on social media that allows individuals to involve their friends and family in their shopping experiences;
  • Waste2Watergy, which is commercializing a microbial fuel cell technology to reduce or eliminate significant wastewater costs and produce electricity from the resultant effluence; and
  • Valliscor, a chemical manufacturing company that licensed technology developed at OSU to produce high-value chemicals for the pharmaceutical, agricultural, polymer and electronics industries.

“The OSU Advantage Accelerator program was very helpful and their mentorship was really first-rate,” said Rich Carter, professor and chair of the OSU Department of Chemistry, and CEO of Valliscor. “They helped us develop the necessary tools to become a functioning company, and whenever you needed advice all you had to do was pick up the phone.”

Carter said he’s “very optimistic” about the company going forward, which is already producing and selling its first products.

The OSU Advantage Accelerator is one component of the Oregon Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network, or Oregon RAIN. With support from the Oregon legislature, collaborators on the initiative include OSU, the University of Oregon, the cities of Eugene, Springfield, Corvallis and Albany, and other economic development organizations. All the participants are focused on creating new business, expanding existing business, creating jobs and helping to build the Oregon and national economy.

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John Turner, 541-368-5204

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New company

Valliscor research

Social shopping via mobile app: do you like the mint green or coral?

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new business concept aided by the Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator will get its first test run on Tuesday, Jan. 21, when about 120 OSU sorority members get a chance to see what all their friends think about the new shoes they may buy – and which color looks best.

It’s the beginning of Tally, a mobile app developed by two recent OSU graduates to make shopping or just getting dressed a more fun, interactive and social experience.

With Tally, users can receive side-by-side images of their friend’s shopping options, vote on their favorite image and get results delivered in real time.

The developers of this company will also be interviewed on Jan. 30 at OSU by Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit.com, one of the world’s leading web sites.  Ohanian will be speaking about his new book, Without Their Permission, as part of a 77-university tour about Internet entrepreneurship, at the LaSells Stewart Center beginning at 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

“Our release of the app to the OSU sororities is really exciting, and we’ll be very interested in their feedback as we try to fine tune the user experience,” said Ryan Connolly, a graduate last year in marketing and entrepreneurship in the OSU College of Business, who co-founded the company with Andy Miller, an OSU computer science graduate.

“We are very optimistic about the app and anxious to see what’s in store for the future,” Connolly said. “It’s free for people to download and use, and will help make shopping a more social experience, even if your friends live in another city or on the other side of the country. People can see what their friends think before they make a decision, and in our tests about 65 percent of our current users vote on each new poll within 20 minutes.”

The OSU Advantage Accelerator, which was recently formed to help this and other small business enterprises get the assistance they need to move out of academia and into the private sector, was a great help, Connolly said.

“The Accelerator gave us two mentors to work with, helped flush out our revenue model, introduced us to investors, and gave us exposure we wouldn’t have otherwise had,” he said.

The business concept of the company is to develop a large and active user base, Connolly said, and then approach clothing retailers and brands as a pinpoint marketing platform. Information will be acquired about merchandise, style, color and product preferences that would be of value to retailers, manufacturers and brand owners. The company web site is at tallyfashion.com

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Ryan Connolly, 503-961-5778

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Choices to make

Shopping choices

Die-hard fans view ads linked with rival teams negatively

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study concludes that it doesn’t matter how compelling an advertisement may be, most die-hard Oregon State Beavers fans will simply not purchase a product associated with the Oregon Ducks.

Researchers at Oregon State University and California State University, San Marcos asked college students, who were a mix of average sports fans and “highly identified” fans, or super fans, to look at a generic ad that that featured an association with either the home or a rival team and included either strong or weak arguments about product quality.

The “less identified,” or average fans, responded positively to the strong advertising message regardless of team affiliation. However, even though the super fans were able to recognize which ads made a more compelling case, it did not sway their negative attitude and intentions toward the advertisement when there was an affiliation with the rival.

The study, co-authored by Colleen Bee, assistant professor of marketing in OSU’s College of Business, and Vassilis Dalakas, associate professor of marketing at Cal State San Marcos, was published online this month in the Journal of Marketing Communications.

“We found that less identified fans responded positively to strong, credible arguments,” said lead author Bee. “What we found interesting is that this effect went away for super fans when the ad featured a rival affiliation. Whether an argument was weak or strong did not make a difference – all that mattered was the association with the rival team.”

Study participants were either shown an ad with weak messaging, such as “Simply great!” or an ad with strong messaging, such as “Recommended by Consumer Reports.”  Fan identification was then assessed by asking respondents to rate themselves based on how they and others see them as team-specific sports fans.

Bee said this is the first study to consider the combined effects of fan identification, sponsorship affiliation, and message characteristics. Since sports sponsorship accounts for 77 percent, or $39.17 billion in revenue, of worldwide sponsorship spending, knowing potential pitfalls is important.

“Highly identified fans incorporate the team as part of their identity, which means it really influences and biases the way they process information much more than other consumers.”

Bee said sponsorship is still a highly effective and lucrative means of advertising and branding. She said that companies should just be aware that their message – and thus their product – may be viewed negatively when they align with certain teams. For this reason, she said savvy firms use brand loyalty to their advantage. One car rental company, for instance, with strong ties to the New York Yankees only ran ads promoting its alliance to the team in New York City. 

“When you associate your product or brand with a team logo, you need to keep in mind that you will alienate the super fans of the rival team, and potentially lose customers,” she said. “On the other hand, you can also leverage that social identification to win over those sports fans who will view this sponsorship favorably simply because it is their team.”

The study was funded by a grant from the OSU College of Business.

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Colleen Bee, 541-737-6059

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Colleen Bee
Colleen Bee

TEDxOregonStateU conference to be held Feb. 12 in Corvallis

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will host TEDxOregonStateU, a conference featuring a series of short talks on the theme of disruption, on Thursday, Feb. 12, on the Corvallis campus.

Speakers include a producer of the television show “Xploration Outerspace;” a winner of the fashion design competition “Project Runway;” a former war correspondent; an information technology executive; and an Oregon State student involved in cancer research.

TEDx events feature talks, demonstrations or performances that foster learning, inspiration and wonder. They are independently organized events in the style of the TED conference. This is the second TEDx event to be held at OSU. This year’s event is being organized by OSU students Aaron LaVigne and Dustin Fernandes and recent alumnus Vinay Bikkina.

The speakers, who will all touch on aspects of the theme, disruption, are:

  • Emily Calandrelli: A co-producer and host of FOX’s new show, “Xploration Outer Space,” she works to promote scientific literacy and women in science, technology, engineering and math, and she is passionate about technology policy, entrepreneurship, open innovation, space exploration. A former NASA employee, Calandrelli holds a master’s degree in aerospace engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • David Edelstein: He is senior vice president of global programs at Grameen Foundation and director of the Grameen Foundation Technology Center. Edelstein previously worked at Microsoft, where he designed a flexible financing model to enable people in developing countries to afford their first computers and led efforts to implement this new business model in several countries.
  • Hanson Hosein: He is the director of the communication leadership graduate program at the University of Washington and president of HRH Media Group. A former NBC News war correspondent, backpack journalist and investigative producer, Hosein is the recipient of several prestigious awards in the media industry.
  • Michelle Lesniak: She is the season 11 winner of “Project Runway,” and is known for her strong design sense and quick wit. She is dedicated to local manufacturing and ethical business practices and is playing a key role in shaping and growing the Portland fashion industry.
  • Matthew Kaiser: Kaiser is an undergraduate student at OSU, working toward an honors degree in microbiology and minors in Spanish, chemistry and toxicology. He is a fellow in the Linus Pauling Institute’s Cancer Chemoprevention Program and is preparing a manuscript on vitamin C and cancer.

The event will run from 6 to 9 p.m. in the LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St. Tickets are $20, or $15 for students. Tickets and additional information are available online at www.oregonstate.edu/TEDxOregonStateU. Follow the event on Twitter: @TEDxOregonState; Instagram: TEDxOregonStateU; or on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/TEDxOregonStateU.

 


 

About TEDx, x=independently organized event: In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED: TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to ideas worth spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman. Follow TED on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TEDTalks or on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/TED.

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Jenn Casey, 541-737-0695, jenn.casey@oregonstate.edu

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Michelle Lesniak

Michelle Lesniak
Hanson Hosein
Hanson Hosein
Matthew Kaiser
Matthew Kaiser

OSU-Cascades launches hospitality management degree

BEND, Ore. – Oregon State University - Cascades is adding a new bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, filling a need for highly-skilled employees in one of Oregon’s most important industries.

OSU-Cascades will begin offering hospitality management classes in fall 2015. The multi-disciplinary degree program will prepare graduates for a wide range of hospitality careers within a corporate setting, in a hospitality operations setting, or as an entrepreneur.  Among the possible career fields are hotel management, cruise operations, conference services, restaurant ownership, and food and beverage services. It is the only degree program of its kind in Oregon.

“We are thrilled to offer a program that will attract students and faculty, and provide talented interns and graduates for the lodging and restaurant industry in the state and region, ultimately increasing its significant contribution to Oregon's economy,” said Becky Johnson, vice president of OSU-Cascades.

The branch campus’s newest degree is the first four-year hospitality degree to be offered in Oregon in more than 20 years and will cater to the state’s hospitality and tourism industry, the second-largest industry in Oregon.

OSU-Cascades is an ideal location for a hospitality management program. Tourism and hospitality businesses are among the largest employers in Central Oregon and the industry is currently experiencing a surge in growth.

The hospitality management program will be led by Executive-in-Residence Todd Montgomery and will be offered through the OSU College of Business. The multi-disciplinary program will include classes in management, human resources, food and beverage operations, technology within the hospitality sector, and service delivery.

Students will also complete a business minor with courses in marketing and accounting, and be required to participate in internships and other work experience programs. The program is expected to draw interest from high school students, community college transfer students and culinary institute graduates.

“Our goal is to prepare our students for key positions in the hospitality industry in Central Oregon, throughout the state and beyond,” Montgomery said. “We want to give them the skills and tools they need to be leaders and innovators in the hospitality field.”

Budget cuts forced the closure of a similar hospitality degree program at OSU in the early 1990s; students then sought programs and careers outside of the state. Industry leaders in Oregon have been advocating for the program’s return and support from the state and local hospitality and tourism industry helped make the new degree possible. In 2012, the branch campus received gifts totaling $320,000 to develop the new program.

Media Contact: 

Christine Coffin, 541-322-3152

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Todd Montgomery, 541-322-2086

Introverts could shape extroverted co-workers’ career success, OSU study shows

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Introverted employees are more likely to give low evaluations of job performance to extroverted co-workers, giving introverts a powerful role in workplaces that rely on peer-to-peer evaluation tools for awarding raises, bonuses or promotions, new research shows.

Introverts consistently rated extroverted co-workers as worse performers, and were less likely to give them credit for work performed or endorse them for advancement opportunities, according to two studies from researchers at Oregon State University, the University of Florida and University of Notre Dame.

“The magnitude with which introverts underrated performance of extroverts was surprising,” said Keith Leavitt, an assistant professor in OSU’s College of Business and a co-author of the studies. “The results were very consistent across both studies.”

The research offers new understanding of the role personality traits play in the workplace, where these days employees can have significant influence on their colleagues’ careers, said Leavitt, an expert in organizational behavior. For example, at Google, colleagues can award bonuses to peers. And on the networking site LinkedIn, employees have the opportunity to recommend or endorse their peers.

“That gives employees a tremendous amount of power to influence their peers’ career opportunities,” Leavitt said. “It’s something individuals and employers should be aware of.”

The researchers’ paper will appear in a forthcoming issue of “Academy of Management Journal” and is available online now. The lead author is Amir Erez of the University of Florida. Other co-authors include Pauline Schilpzand of Oregon State, Andrew H. Woolum of the University of Florida, and Timothy Judge of the University of Notre Dame.

There is already considerable research that shows how an individual’s personality traits might affect job performance, but there is little research that explores how one employee’s personality traits might affect another employee in the workplace, Leavitt said.

That spurred Leavitt and his co-authors to explore how personality traits of one employee might affect that person’s co-workers. They conducted two studies to test how co-workers’ personalities interact to influence their evaluations of one another.

One study involved 178 MBA students at a large southeastern university. Each student was assigned to a four- or five-person project team for the semester and midway through the term, participants completed questionnaires about their team members, team processes and their own personalities.

The results showed that introverted team members rated the performance of other introverts higher than that of extroverts. In contrast, ratings made by extroverts were not significantly influenced by the personalities of the team members they were rating.

In the second study, 143 students in a management program participated in a brief online game, lasting about 10 minutes, with three teammates. Unbeknownst to the participants, the teammates were all electronic confederates, and one target team member’s profiles and comments during the game were manipulated at random to highlight high introversion or extraversion, while their actual performance of the task was held constant.

The participants then evaluated their team members and made recommendations about promoting or awarding bonuses to their teammates. The results showed that introverts gave lower evaluations and smaller peer bonuses to the extroverted version of the targeted team member, even though all the versions of the confederate team member performed the same. Extraverted participants were largely unaffected by the interpersonal traits of their team members and awarded evaluations and bonuses based on merit.

“We found that introverted employees are especially sensitive to their co-workers’ interpersonal traits, in particular extraversion and disagreeableness,” Leavitt said. “They make judgments and evaluate performance of others with those traits in mind.”

Leavitt suggested that extroverted employees might need to use a “dimmer switch” when interacting with introverted peers, and employers or supervisors may need to consider that the personality traits of evaluators could bring a degree of bias into evaluations, bonus awards or other personnel decisions that rely on peer-to-peer feedback. Managers also may want to reconsider forcing interaction among employees or teams, he said.

In future studies, researchers hope to further explore how personality traits impact team effectiveness, including a closer examination of the line where personality issues affect team functionality, Leavitt said. 

Introversion and extroversion are not the best overall predictors of job performance, either, he said. Conscientiousness has shown to be the best trait for indicating how an employee will actually perform.

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Keith Leavitt, 206-245-5798, keith.leavitt@bus.oregonstate.edu

Expert to discuss startup business issues, patents

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A national expert on patents and startup businesses will speak in Corvallis on Wednesday, Dec. 3.

John Cabeca, director of the Silicon Valley United States Patent and Trademark Office, will hold an interactive discussion on several topics related to startup businesses, including micro-entity filings, pro bono assistance, law school clinics and other topics.

The event is free and open to the public, and will be from 2:30-3:30 p.m. in the Metolius Room of the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute in Corvallis. It is located at 1110 N.E. Circle Blvd., and directions to the building can be found online at http://mbi-online.org/directions

The program is sponsored by the Oregon State University Advantage program and the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network, or RAIN-Corvallis.

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Tracy Elmshaeuser, 541-737-3888

OSU partnership forms new center for software development

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Two organizations at Oregon State University have joined forces to create a new center offering expanded services in product testing, software development and hosting.

The Center for Applied Systems and Software in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science was formed by the partnership of the Open Source Lab and the Business Solutions Group. For several years, both groups have been delivering products and services to clients while providing training opportunities for students on real-world projects.

“It’s a partnership that made sense and it was the right time to make the move,” said Carlos Jensen, director of the new center and associate professor of computer science at OSU. “We have an assertive, aggressive, optimistic view of the future that will drive innovation.”

Although the Open Source Lab and Business Solutions Group will retain their identity and function, their combined skills can provide clients with complete software solutions, including design, development, testing and hosting. They can take on a larger variety of projects that would have been beyond the scope of either one alone.

For instance, although neither group had previously created a mobile application, the first project undertaken by the new organization includes two iOS and Android apps for Oregon Sea Grant. “Oregon Catch” will be an app to help visitors buy fresh fish directly from ocean fishermen, and “Working Waterfronts” will provide educational information about industrial sites on the coast to tourists.

Beyond software services, the new center will provide clients an opportunity to develop working relationships with students for potential future employment. Industry representatives can gain quick and cost-effective access to students who will assist with projects, without the need to directly supervise them, as they would with a conventional internship.

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Rachel Robertson, 541-737-7098

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New OSU center

Center leaders

Study: State, federal role in electric utilities’ labor issues should be reexamined

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Power outages have never been more costly. Electricity is critical to communication, transportation, commerce and national security systems, and wide-spread or prolonged outages have the potential to threaten public safety and cause millions, even billions, of dollars in damages.

“It doesn’t seem that dire until a storm hits, or somebody makes a mistake, and then you are risking a blackout,” said Inara Scott, an assistant professor in the College of Business at Oregon State University.

“You have to consider the magnitude of the potential harm to the public. Without power, you can’t pump gas. Cell phones may not work. Water systems are threatened. These are big problems.”

That’s why it may be time to re-examine the role of public utility commissions and the effect of the National Labor Relations Act in labor disputes regarding electric utilities, Scott suggests in a new study.

Public utility commissions have more authority than some existing court decisions suggest, but they tend to take a conservative approach and there is a strong presumption that they can’t get involved, Scott said. Modifying the NLRA to more clearly define the states’ powers might be needed to change that mindset, she said. The changes would affect both sides – labor and management – equally, she said.

“The current law does not reflect the times,” Scott said. “The courts need to look at these cases differently, because the role of electricity in our lives has changed.”

Many public utility commissions have concluded, based largely on court decisions under the NLRA, that they’re prohibited from intervening in labor disputes even when public safety is threatened, Scott said. PUCs are the state agencies that regulate public utilities.

That interpretation of the federal law does not reflect the critical role electricity plays in people’s lives and livelihoods today, said Scott, whose study of the issue was published this week in the “Energy Law Journal.”

“If workers strike or are locked out of their jobs during a labor dispute, a utility might operate just fine, or there could be a major problem,” said Scott, an attorney who spent 10 years practicing energy and regulatory law before joining the OSU faculty.

“The problems caused by an electrical outage are not easy to predict and the consequences can be severe,” said Scott, whose research focuses on the transformation of utility systems, clean energy, energy efficiency and utility regulation.

Scott began studying the National Labor Relations Act and the role of public utility commissions in labor disputes involving electric utilities after following a 2012 labor dispute involving Consolidated Edison of New York.

Con Edison management locked out more than 8,000 employees after labor negotiations broke down. Union members warned the move would leave the utility with inadequate safety monitoring, deferred maintenance and threats of unsafe conditions.

But the state’s public utility commission, the only regulatory agency with authority to oversee the safety and operation of Con Edison’s system, announced that it lacked jurisdiction to end the lockout or get involved in the negotiations.

As the lockout wore on and severe summer weather threatened the power grid, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urged the New York Public Service Commission to get more involved.

The dispute was ultimately settled but the case underscored the high stakes of labor disputes involving electric utilities, as well as the potential danger to public safety and the need for clarification of the authority of state public utility commissions, Scott said.

Scott’s study was supported by OSU.

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Inara Scott, 541-737-4102, Inara.Scott@bus.oregonstate.edu