PhD Profile: James Bort

James Bort ’20 Ph.D., a Syracuse native, has been at Syracuse University as a student and staff member for the past decade. Bort earned an MBA through the online program at the Whitman School while working as an IT analyst. After two more years in IT at Syracuse University, he returned to Whitman to obtain a Ph.D. in entrepreneurship.

Bort’s research is primarily centered on individual well-being, including that of entrepreneurs and their stakeholders, and how it is influenced by entrepreneurship. Bort is currently working on a study with Wei Yu ’18 Ph.D. and Johan Wiklund, professor of entrepreneurship, as his adgraduatevisor, whom he has noted was a major factor in his choice to pursue a Ph.D. Wiklund’s general philosophies on academia and his research resonated with him.

“[Our study] looks at the way firm growth influences the job satisfaction of employees working for new firms,” said Bort. “Ultimately we find that there is a limit to how fast firms can grow before it has a negative impact on their employees.”

Last fall, Bort had the opportunity to teach Introduction to Entrepreneurship, with just under 50 students enrolled. “The students in my section were phenomenal and we had blast overall,” said Bort. “We had a couple of really fun guests, including the Mayor of Syracuse, who talked about the intersection between local regulators and entrepreneurs—giving them a unique and practical perspective.”

For his work in this course, Bort earned the “Outstanding Teaching Assistant” award, which is administered by the Syracuse University Graduate School and given to the best graduate student teachers on campus.

“In addition to the departmental nomination, students from my class also provided a recommendation for the award, which was by far the most rewarding part of the process,” noted Bort.

Bort has also worked with closely with Kiva, the world’s largest prosocial crowdfunding platform, on a number of research projects with Todd Moss, associate professor of entrepreneurship. The two have presented these projects at several major entrepreneurship conferences, including The Annual Social Entrepreneurship Conference, Sustainability, Ethics, & Entrepreneurship Conference, Academy of Management Conference and the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference.

Moss previously published studies in leading entrepreneurship journals with Kiva as the context, which Bort said opened up doors for them with Kiva. “Specifically, we were interested in the Direct Loan program, which focuses on entrepreneurs operating their businesses in the United States and has yet to be analyzed by researchers,” said Bort.

This past April, the Kiva team offered Bort and Moss the opportunity to work at their headquarters in San Francisco, California for a week, in which they were able to connect with various project stakeholders as well as present an overview of their research agenda focusing on their broad interest in psychological wellbeing and entrepreneurial performance. Bort said that they are planning to finish the first phase of this project in the fall of 2019.

Julia Fiedler
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