Meet the Expert: Dr. David Bosch

When Asbury University alumni return to campus for Reunion, one of the things they say goes something like, “When I came to class, I knew I wasn’t just another student to my professor. He knew me, he challenged me, and I’m better at what I do now because he knew what he was talking about.” In an ongoing Web series this fall, Asbury will feature just a few of the faculty at Asbury who are making a difference in both their subject areas and their classrooms.

Why would an American family move to a country in the Middle East, in the middle of a war, to start a women’s development center and later a small business? What would motivate a person to act in such a way? Dr. David Bosch, Asbury University professor, moved to Iraq in 2005 with his wife Cynthia and their two young daughters to do just that.

Dr. David Bosch (back row, on right) and his wife, Cynthia (back row) established a women's fitness center in Iraq.
Dr. David Bosch (back row, on right) and his wife, Cynthia (back row) established a women's fitness center in Iraq.

In 2005, they started a not-for-profit women’s center outside a large metropolitan city in Iraq providing classes in literacy, health, computer, exercise, English and art. In 2007, they started a for-profit women’s fitness center, maintaining most of the same goals that they had when they started the not-for-profit women’s center. Bosch approached the project from a heartfelt desire to serve and use his skills and education in accounting, finance and investment. As he worked in a challenging business environment, however, he started wondering: What drives other people to do this?

Bosch and his wife did not realize it at the time, but they were a part of a larger trend of social entrepreneurship, a perspective on business in which the bottom line is not as influential a motivating factor.

“Scholars do not agree on a formal definition of social entrepreneurship, as some argue that it should be used just to describe non-profit entities,” Bosch said, “while others contend it should be viewed as a continuum of enterprises, including those that have a profit orientation. However, there is general agreement among academics that social entrepreneurs are focused on social value creation by advancing a positive social change regardless of whether they are launching a for-profit or not-for-profit venture.”

Bosch’s research, which was also the topic of his doctoral dissertation at Regent University, explores the question of why someone would launch a social venture, as opposed to a purely commercial venture. The literature points to the idea that an individual’s values and level of spirituality impact a person’s entrepreneurial intentions, yet there has been very little research in this area. There is even less research investigating if differing personal values and levels of spirituality impacts a person’s intention to start a social venture as opposed to a commercial venture. The research has profoundly practical implications, both for Asbury students considering different career paths and for the millions of people in developing countries who depend on small businesses for their livelihoods.

The Tigris River
The Tigris River

“There’s research that says values are enduring, but other research says through socialization and education, your values can be changed,” Bosch said. “If there are certain values that encourage entrepreneurial intention, how can we build on that? This is important because small businesses are the drivers of the economies in developing countries.

“Any knowledge that is gleaned from this study is not esoteric in nature,” he continued, “but can inform the way that we teach our business courses. An individual’s level of spirituality can be developed, and their values can be enhanced through interaction with others such as mentors and faculty members. Therefore, we may be able to increase our student’s entrepreneurial intentions, both social and commercial, by proactively bringing our faith into the classroom.”

Bosch’s research and teaching on social entrepreneurism fit hand-in-hand with Asbury’s Cornerstone values of stewardship and mission. The mission applications are clear: successful engagement in the worldwide business community can open doors of influence that remain closed politically and/or spiritually, regardless of where a student might choose to work. But underpinning the sense of mission is the understanding that the information, skills and values learned at Asbury are a resource to be used wisely.

“I teach a small-business management class, and in one of the first classes we talk about how we are one of the wealthiest generations in the world, and one of the most free in the world,” Bosch said. “Plus, our students have the capacity to be some of the most theologically sound people in the world. They’ve been blessed just by being here, and generally, God blesses people so they can bless others.” 

Did you know?
Asbury University has just launched a new MBA program in which Asbury’s integration of ethical practice with theory provides a distinct moral dimension to the student experience. For more information or to apply for the January 2014 term, visit asbury.edu/mba.

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