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USASBE History

A Brief Interpretative History of USASBE

Max S. Wortman, Jr. and Harold P. Welsch

The first predecessor organization of USASBE was the National Council for Small Business Management Development (NCSBMD) in 1955. Its purpose was to provide an integrated gathering point for persons involved in helping small businesses evolve and develop in the United States. Wilfred White, Wendell Metcalf, and Grant Moon were among some of the original founders of the organization. The organization was founded almost synonymously with the Small Business Administration of the U.S. federal government. Later, Canadian members were added to the rolls.


Annual program meetings were held continuously from the first year. Bids for the annual meeting were taken and were selected at academic institutions. These meetings were held on campuses until 1981-1982. The last meeting on a campus was held in 1981 at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Since that time, annual meetings have been held in hotels and conference centers nationally and internationally.


The Journal of Small Business Management Development was founded immediately after the NCSBMD was founded. In 1962, the Journal was published quarterly at the University of Iowa under the editorship of Clifford Baumback. Then, it was sixteen pages long.


During the mid-1970s, the NCSBMD began to run into financial difficulties with the Journal. As a result, West Virginia University agreed to become a part-owner of the Journal and to provide a continuing Managing Editor for it. Its name became the Journal of Small Business Management.


During the late 1970s, the Canadian members began to feel that the organization should be changed because the NCSBMD was not a national organization, but was indeed an international organization. Therefore, the name of the organization was changed to the International Council for Small Business in 1978-1979. The first affiliate of the ICSB was the Canadian affiliate in 1979.


In 1981, the U.S. affiliate was founded and was named the U.S. Affiliate of the ICSB; the name was shortly changed to the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE). The first president of the U.S. affiliate was Gerald Hills, who was a member of the faculty at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville). At the same time, Gerald Hills was also the President of the ICSB (the only person to hold both presidential positions simultaneously). Initially, the organizational structure was patterned after the structure of ICSB.


Rodger Alderman assumed the position of USASBE Executive Director on August 28, 2006, following an extensive national search. His first task was the transition of the USASBE Central Office from Madison, Wisconsin to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. With professional executive directors and diligent officers, USASBE continued to grow in quality and numbers.


In 2008, the Venture Financing Group reported that with the downturned economy venture capitalists' confidence level declined to the lowest level in 5 years. The downturn also forced the State of Florida to retrench its support to Florida Atlantic University's USASBE Central Office. Belmont University picked up the flag and appointed Becky Gann as the new executive director. All operations are running smoothly again and extraordinary conferences were held in Nashville and Hilton Head.


Over the years, the following have served as president of USASBE:


1981 - 82 Gerald Hills (University of Tennessee, University of Illinois at Chicago, Bradley University)

1983 - Thomas Dandridge (State University of New York, Albany), Emeritus

1984 - Harold Welsch (DePaul University)

1985 - Alvin Star (University of Illinois at Chicago), Emeritus

1986 - Max Wortman (University of Tennessee; most recently at Iowa State University), Deceased

1987 - Joseph Latona (University of Akron), Retired

1988 - Alan Filley (University of Wisconsin), Deceased

1989 - Eugene Gomolka (University of Dayton), Deceased

1990 - Catherine Ashmore (Ohio State University)

1991 - William Ward (Susquehanna University), Emeritus

1992 - Fred Kiesner (Loyola Marymount University)

1993 - Donald Kuratko (Ball State University; now at Indiana University-Bloomington)

1994 - Ray Bagby (Baylor University)

1996 - Dale Meyer (University of Colorado)

1997 - V.K. Unni (California State University, Bakersfield; now at Bryant University)

1998 - Charles Hofer (University of Georgia; Kennesaw State University), Deceased

1999 - Lynn Neeley ((Northern Illinois University)

2000 - Scott Kunkel (University of San Diego)

2001 - Joan Winn (University of Denver)

2002 - George Solomon (The George Washington University)

2003 - Frank Hoy (The University of Texas at El Paso; now at Worcester Polytechnic Institute)

2004 - Charles Matthews (University of Cincinnati)

2005 – Dianne H.B. Welsh (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

2006 - Howard Van Auken (Iowa State University)

2007 - Geralyn Franklin (University of South Florida, St. Petersburg; now at United Arab Emirates University)

2008 - Jeffrey R. Alves (Wilkes University)

2009 - Michael Morris (Oklahoma State University)

2010 - Jeff Cornwall (Belmont University)

2011 - K. Mark Weaver (Louisiana State University; University of South Alabama)

2012 - Rebecca J. White (University of Tampa)

2013 - Pat H. Dickson (Wake Forest University)

2014 - Tony Mendes (University of North Texas, UMKC)

2015 - Alex DeNoble (San Diego State University)

2016 - Ted Zoller (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill)


After the U.S. affiliate was founded, it became increasingly evident that the boards of the parent organization and the U.S. affiliate were dominated by U.S. citizens. In 1985, the ICSB began to become a truly international organization with the addition of significant persons from other countries on their Board. At this time, the ICSB established a strategic planning committee which began to lay out new goals and objectives for the international organization.


In 1984, Max Wortman chaired the Strategic Planning Committee of USASBE. The present structure of officers and divisions (although some of the divisions have changed their names) was founded. Over the years, the structure has changed to reflect the challenges facing the organization. In the same year, he chaired the first biennial program which was held in Orlando with 82 full paid participants. Two years later, the first annual program was held in Milwaukee.


During the period from 1990-1995, USASBE suffered from membership erosion. Part of the decline appeared to be due to competing organizations and programs such as the Entrepreneurship Division, Academy of Management; the Babson College Annual Conference; the Small Business Institute Directors Association; the Family Firm Institute and other competing conferences.

In 1997 USASBE received its first grant from The Coleman Foundation to fund the IntEnt 97 in Monterey, California. The original grant was written to the Foundation by Joyce Brockhaus, Bob Brockhaus, Gerry Hills and Harold Welsch to fund the conference and give scholarships to new members to encourage attendance and to introduce them to USASBE. It was the beginning of tremendous growth for the organization.


As USASBE grew, other organizations began to participate and support USASBE. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, The John E. and Jeannie T. Hughes Foundation and The Edward Lowe Foundation have been playing increasingly important roles in the conference and organization. In 2002 and 2003, with the generous help of The Coleman Foundation organization grant, USASBE redesigned its web site and increased the member services. Past conference proceedings, white papers, syllabi, job postings, videos, online journals, and training opportunities are available online.

USASBE continues to grow and prosper. Strategic alliances are being formed and partnerships are being strengthened.

When USASBE lost one of its most beloved members in 2005, the USASBE Fellows sought to honor the late author, scholar, and friend by adopting the name of Justin G. Longenecker as the official name for all past, present, and future Fellows of USASBE. At the 2005 National USASBE conference, Justin Longenecker was also awarded the Max S. Wortman, Jr. USASBE Lifetime Achievement Award for Entrepreneurship.


The annual USASBE conference is the largest of its kind in the United States. As a special forum, it brings together educators, scholars, entrepreneurs, practitioners, policy makers, and economic development professionals from across the country and the world. The spotlight is placed on papers, case studies and workshops that created and redefine processes for facilitating new venture creation and small business management and growth. Attendees continue to have the opportunity to learn about leading edge research, share best practices in entrepreneurship curriculum and program development, and network.


Annual conferences were held in Orlando (2007), San Antonio (2008), Anaheim (2009), Nashville (2010) and Hilton Head (2011)and New Orleans (2012) followed by San Francisco (2013).


Structural modifications continued throughout this period. Four foundational pillars were identified: teaching and pedagogy, scholarship, centers and outreach, and public policy. In Anaheim, there were several innovations. The first joint Academy of Management and USASBE session was led by Ron Mitchell (Texas tech) and Michael H. Morris (Oklahoma State). In addition, scholarship recipients were invited to attend the conference version of the Experiential Classroom, a program designed to provide valuable instructional skills to those who are new to reaching entrepreneurship education. Dr. Jeffry Timmons was posthumously awarded the Max S. Wortman, Jr. Award for Lifetime Achievement in Entrepreneurship while George Solomon received it in 2011. The same year Raymond Smilor received the Hughes Award and Steven P. Nichols received the 2011 Educator of the Year Award.


In January 2007, the VISION 2020 Task Force was created. The group was charged with bringing to the Association's Strategic Planning Committee recommendations for identifying the long-term strategic vision of USASBE and actions required to achieve this "new vision”. This included (1) Revising the vision to read ”Creating the new generation of entrepreneurs through teaching and research”; (2) Developing a new operations structure that shifts operational and administrative duties from member volunteers to full-time staff at the USASBE headquarters; (3) Realigning the Board to better fit the new vision framework and separate the governance structure from the conference organizational structure; (4) Improving the quality of research with specific attention to the impact of entrepreneurship education, the development of alternative education models, venture creation, small business, and public policy; (5) Revamping the annual conference program offering primary focus on entrepreneurship education best practices and entrepreneurship education research, venture creation and small business research, and public policy research; (6) Establishing a diverse portfolio of membership benefits related to pedagogy, curriculum and programs; (7) Expanding and diversifying funding sources (including establishing new revenue streams) and developing specific fundraising targets by staffing and programmatic areas; and (8) Partnering with key organizations that are aligned with our mission.


The first annual doctoral consortium was held in San Antonio (2008) with 16 doctoral students. Later in 2008, USASBE introduced a Special Group Structure providing forums for collaboration in specialized areas:

  • Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Entrepreneurship in the Arts
  • Entrepreneurship Pedagogy and Teaching
  • Family Business
  • International Entrepreneurship
  • Law and Entrepreneurship (added in 2010)
  • Minority and Women Entrepreneurs
  • Public Policy (added in 2012)
  • Small Business
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Technology and Life science Entrepreneurship
  • Venture Financing

As a professional academic organization, USASBE plays a preeminent role in advancing the discipline of entrepreneurship. We do this by serving our members. Our value proposition includes:

  • The USASBE Annual Conference
  • Subscriptions to Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice and the Journal of Small Business Management as part of your membership
  • The Entrepreneurship Syllabus Exchange
  • Electronic and live career center
  • National awards program
  • USASBE newsletter, Liaison
  • Website with materials to support entrepreneurship educators
  • USASBE special interest groups (SIGS) that interact with members on an ongoing basis regarding focused specialty areas within entrepreneurship, and
  • Ongoing development of new initiatives that serve entrepreneurship educators


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