Sam Holloway | University of Portland

Sam Holloway

Professor of Management & Entrepreneurship

Sam HollowayI like to study the “science of winning”—how firms define and organize their resources around success. Winning doesn’t solely mean profit maximization or blindly pursuing shareholder wealth. Winning can mean many different things: creating the best possible company culture, paying above average wages, or improving the planet and society. My scholarship directly informed my textbook, Crafting a Strategy, published with Dr. Mark Meckler in 2018. It’s used all over the world in business schools to teach strategic thinking, leadership, and decision-making.

In my preferred field of study, the global craft beer industry, I’ve been studying Optimal Distinctiveness, which asks the question “how different should you be from your rivals?” In a three-year study, I collected data from every US brewery, looking at how locality mattered in the strategic choices of which beers to make. It helped answer the question of how different you should be in hyper local craft beer markets? I have also partnered with Pamplin School of Business colleagues Mark Meckler and Ian Parkman, as well as David Turnbloom from the Department of Theology, to research how beer companies use religious symbols and rituals in unintended ways, and how that affects their business.

My research exposes me to entrepreneurs working daily to solve new challenges in their businesses, and I love to bring these entrepreneurs into my classes as guest speakers. Recently, I exposed my MBA Senior Management class to an entrepreneur negotiating a merger with a rival beverage company. For their final exam, students interviewed the CEO and leadership team. They studied the rival company’s growth and strategy, then made recommendations for how the merged organization could operate successfully. The CEO praised our students for helping him “see around corners,” saving him hundreds of hours of analysis. Many students called it the most challenging and fulfilling assignment of their MBA program. 

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