Jim Fatzinger

DBA alumnus’ dissertation born out of personal tragedy awarded for excellence

Growing up in South Florida, Jim Fatzinger (DBA ’20) experienced a tragedy that many Floridians are all too familiar with – losing his family home in a natural disaster. Despite the devastating loss, Fatzinger found his own way to make sense of his experience and bring positive insights that could help others in the future.

While a student in the University of Florida Warrington College of Business Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program, Fatzinger chose to focus his dissertation on if natural disasters, such as hurricanes, provide opportunities for economic development and entrepreneurship in communities.

“This topic was a way for me to continue research in what I understand first-hand,” he explained. “As hurricane frequency and ferocity are anticipated to increase, understanding economic dynamism and entrepreneurial activity in the aftermath of a hurricane strike is an important component in rebuilding, reconstructing and enhancing overall community-level resiliency.”

The insights from his paper confirmed that hurricanes provided an opportunity for entrepreneurial activity through an analysis of all available hurricane strikes in the continental U.S. with data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Hurricane Center North Atlantic Hurricane Database and all publicly available Business Disaster Loan records maintained by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Years after completing his research and DBA, Fatzinger’s dissertation is making waves in the academic business community. The paper, “Do Hurricane Strikes Encourage Economic Dynamism and Entrepreneurial Opportunity?” was recently selected by academics across the globe as one of the best submitted to the Academy of Management’s 2024 Annual Meeting.

With this selection, he’s the first UF DBA alumnus to have his dissertation selected for such an honor by the prestigious management professional organization. Fatzinger will be recognized at the Academy of Management’s Annual Meeting in August 2024 and his paper will be published in Proceedings, which includes all of the Best Paper selections, which account for the top 10% of submissions.

“It’s exciting how this research and its application including collaboration with community leaders, government, and first responders, may contribute to our understanding of entrepreneurship and economic development, shaping public policy globally, in the future,” Fatzinger said.

Fatzinger, who is a faculty member at Vanderbilt University, Fulbright Specialist, American Council on Education Fellow (’11-’12) and member of the University of Miami Iron Arrow Honor Society, also noted his gratitude to Warrington’s faculty for helping guide him while writing his now award-winning research paper as well as those who assist when natural disasters strike.

“Sincere thanks to all those who contribute to the field every day including first responders, Dr. David Ross for his guidance during my dissertation, our University of Florida faculty, and my cohort for their support during the DBA Program (and beyond),” he shared. “I’m grateful for my cohort, colleagues, the University of Florida faculty, its leadership, and all who contribute to the Gator Nation.”