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Robert Cardy
Robert Cardy

UTSA First-Year Faculty: Professor Robert Cardy

By Lydia Fletcher
Special Projects Writer, B.A., '07

(Sept. 11, 2007)--UTSA Professor Robert Cardy comes to UTSA from Arizona State University. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Central Michigan University and a Ph.D. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Cardy serves as chair of the Department of Management in the UTSA College of Business.

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LF: What attracted you to San Antonio and UTSA?

RC: I was a faculty member at Arizona State University for 18 years and felt that I wanted a change and a challenge. The opportunity to be chair of the management department at UTSA came up and I thought it could be a position in which I could make a positive difference. It is always easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize how things get done and decisions are made. However, it is certainly more challenging to be a part of the process and to make things better.

UTSA is clearly on the move to improve its research status. In addition to being chair, I would like to continue to make research contributions and to improve our research standing. There is a very dedicated and skilled faculty here and I am happy to be a part of the UTSA program.

LF: What research are you conducting or hoping to conduct at UTSA?

RC: As a department chair, it is difficult, maybe impossible, to keep up the same level of research activity as when you were a faculty member. However, I am committed to remaining active on the research dimension. My overall area of research is human resource management.

At a general level, I am interested in the fair and effective management of people in the workplace. Human resource management often has a lot to do with rules, laws and following a process. However, how you manage people also has to fit with the goals of the business, which often has to do with change, competition and innovation. Balancing these two priorities makes the field of human resource management an interesting challenge for academics and for practitioners our there on the front lines in organizations.

One of my principal and continuing areas of research is employee retention. Layoffs and outsourcing are so common today that announcements don't even raise eyebrows. But these practices don't promote a sense of loyalty among workers. To the contrary, I think the message to most workers today is that we are all expendable commodities and our value is temporary and dependent on ever-changing market forces.

So, it is no surprise in this context that it can be difficult to retain your best workers. The prevalence of outsourcing and layoff can make managers callous to the impact on employees, but even a hard-nosed business analysis indicates that employee turnover can be very costly. Not only can losing an employee mean that you have lost that person's knowledge and skills, that knowledge and skill might go down the street to a competitor. Further, the impact of layoffs on the commitment and performance of remaining workers can have long-term negative effects on an organization.

Some colleagues and I have been working on a model of employee retention that can provide some direction to managers who want to retain their workers. What are the major factors that determine wither someone will stay as a committed worker or move to another employer? The decision has to do with more than simply the amount of pay, although that can certainly be important.

We are developing a more systematic way -- a more scientific way, of looking at retaining employees. If we can model what factors determine whether a worker will stay with an employer, then managers can more efficiently and effectively take steps to improve the retention rates in their organizations. We are presenting our latest work on this topic at the upcoming meeting of the Academy of Management, the principal conference for faculty in the management area.

Another theme in my research is performance management. A current project focuses on the appropriate breadth of measurement. If you have ever had your performance assessed by someone in an organization, have you had the feeling that mountains were being made out of molehills, or that your manager lost sight of the forest because of the focus on the trees? That is the issue we are currently looking at. This work also will be presented at the Academy of Management meeting.

LF: What courses are you teaching?

RC: This fall I'm teaching a course on performance management for M.B.A. students. The course focuses on measuring performance and on providing feedback. I try to have a balance between a focus on models and a focus on practice. The two should really go hand in hand, since a good model should help guide managers to make good decisions. The performance management class asks students to learn not only the current theories, but also how to apply these models to the workplace.

LF: How do you enjoy the teaching atmosphere at UTSA?

RC: There is a clear emphasis on the importance of teaching at UTSA. While research is becoming a priority, I have the strong sense that it is not going to be at the expense of teaching. The students here are lucky to be in this kind of environment. Top research universities can forget who their primary customer is.

In a competitive research environment, students can often be left to fend for themselves. The faculty often doesn't want to take the time, and the administration wants to maximize the research rankings. Students at UTSA experience, I think, a much more balanced approach and they probably get a better education as well.

LF: What is your favorite hobby?

RC: One of my hobbies is stained glass. While I find that I don't have enough time to do some of the projects that I would like to do, it is a hobby that is therapeutic and stress relieving. If I have the chance, I would like to do the Roadrunner mascot in stained glass, maybe to put in the department office.

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