“Fundamentally, the Ed Snider Center’s research, programs, and engagement are about unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit within each one of us,” says Rajshree Agarwal, director of the Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, which launched in 2014.
Agarwal, who holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Buffalo, has long been interested in exploring the entrepreneurial capacity of individuals. Her own experience in taking risks and chasing her potential underscores her belief that every person has a unique set of skills to cultivate and contribute to society.
As a young woman, Agarwal was faced with two options: remain in her home country of India and follow the traditional path laid out for her or pursue her goals by moving to the United States. Ultimately, Agarwal drew on the enterprising tenacity her father exemplified throughout her childhood.
“I chose to come to this country with two suitcases in my hands and say, ‘I want to be here, and I want to live the life I want to live.’”
While in India, Agarwal had earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in economics, and after moving to the United States, she obtained another master’s and a doctorate in economics from the University of Buffalo.
“Economics was a very natural place to study how people can create value and [discover] what systems are in place that truly allow the mind to be at its fullest capacity,” she explains.
Over time, Agarwal honed her research to look at the growth of individuals, firms, and, as result, the evolution of enterprising economies.
Before long, she noticed a pattern: “It isn’t firms that make decisions. It’s people that make decisions.” And people, she realized, make choices based on what they value as they seek to cultivate fulfilling lives.
A key point that Agarwal hopes students and scholars understand through their involvement with the Ed Snider Center is that people truly make the word better when they are doing something that is important to them. This idea is the basis of win-win relationships, which Agarwal posits is the foundation of successful trade and commerce.
Agarwal’s research at the Ed Snider Center explores the ideas of entrepreneurship and mutually beneficial relationships, specifically as reflected between individuals, enterprising firms, and economies. The programs she and her team have designed encourage students to identify their gifts and consider how they can leverage those skills in the economy while embracing the hard work of excellence and happiness.
“My vision for the center is truly to enable lifelong learning about factors that enable enterprise and innovation and about markets that sustain them,” says Agarwal.