In this edition of faculty spotlight Dr. Violetta Gerasymenko, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy in the College of Business, shares her research interests and experience as a 2015 Excellence in Family Business Awards judge.

Can you share a little about your background and experience (and any connection to family business, if applicable)?

As many thousands of people in Ukraine, my parents became entrepreneurs after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Entrepreneurship and private business ownership were new phenomena back then because during the Soviet system all organizations were government-owned. While the legal and economic conditions were challenging, the Ukrainian market was a gold mine of entrepreneurial opportunities. My parents, who were avid pet lovers, started the first pet food company in Ukraine. In between my college and an English teaching job I had at that time, I was involved in business development, marketing, and other business areas of my parents’ family business.  Without a doubt, this family business experience planted seeds for my scholarly interest in entrepreneurship. 

What are your current research interests?

In my current research, I am studying how and under what conditions organizations such as business accelerators and venture capital firms learn from their experience and add value to startups.   For instance, in one of my recent articles, I examined the extent to which venture capital firms learn from their successful experience. Interestingly, I found that venture capital firms learn best from significant and relatively recent (but not too recent) successful exits. Extrapolating lessons from experiences that happened a while ago may damage their future performance. In a different article, my co-authors and I showed that venture capital firms may be trapped by their superior ability to identify and predict outcomes of their new investments correctly. Such superior ability may indeed restrain the venture capital firms’ flexibility to revise their initial beliefs over time and lead to a potentially lower ability to add value to their investments. Among the remedies to get out of such “trap” that our research identified was co-investment with other investors who could provide fresh insight and challenge some established beliefs.  

Which courses do you teach in the College of Business, and are you involved in any other College activities?

In the College of Business, I teach Introduction to Entrepreneurship, a course that provides students with a real-life experience of what it takes to come up with and evaluate the feasibility of a business idea.  Having teams of students with diverse backgrounds and majors who compete for the best business ideas makes each course a fresh and exciting journey. I am one of three founding faculties of the InnovationX Competition that gives an opportunity to all students taking this course to present their entrepreneurial ideas in front of a panel of judges and win some prize money.  I am currently developing an online version of the same course, a new exciting opportunity.  I also have pleasure teaching a research seminar on foundations of entrepreneurship research at our Doctorate program. Since I joined the COB in 2014, some additional professional roles that I enjoyed and found enriching for my research and teaching were serving as an interim director of the InnovationX Board and as advisor on the advisory board of the Advantage Accelerator. 

You were a judge for the 2015 Excellence in Family Business Awards. Did you take away any new insights or observations about family businesses from that experience?

It was my honor to be a judge for the 2015 Excellence in Family Business Awards. I was very touched and impressed by the dedication that family business owners showed toward their businesses.  It was aspiring to hear stories about how some family businesses successfully managed inter-generational transitions and kept their businesses thriving for many decades. Having participated as a judge in the Excellence in Family Business Awards gave me an even greater appreciation of the tremendous positive impact that the family businesses bring to people and communities in Oregon and beyond.


Dr. Violetta Gerasymenko is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy in the Oregon State University College of Business. She earned her Ph.D. from HEC Paris. Before joining the faculty at Oregon State, Dr. Gerasymenko held visiting scholar positions at MIT Sloan, New York University and National University of Singapore and an Assistant Professor position at Nova SBE in Portugal. Her research work, which focuses on organizational learning and attention dynamics in venture capital firms and entrepreneurial ventures, has been published in the Journal of Management, Journal of Management Studies, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, Journal of Business Venturing, Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research, Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings and other international journals and book chapters in both English and French.