Todd Inouye, Associcate Professor of Management

Associate Professor Inouye’s research interests are two-fold: in teaching methods, and in examining how contextual boundary conditions like diversity, gender, or public policy affect the strategies of small business managers and owners.

Todd Inouye pictured.
Todd Inouye

Editor’s note: This profile was originally published on Oct. 28, 2019 and updated on June 18, 2024.

Todd Inouye is an associate professor of management at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. His research interests are two-fold: in teaching methods, and in examining how contextual boundary conditions like diversity, gender, or public policy affect the strategies of small business managers and owners.

“While my passion is, and always will be teaching, I have found that research and service can be equally as fulfilling when centered around student and community engagement,” says Inouye, who started at the UH Hilo College of Business and Economics in the fall of 2019. Previously, Inouye was an assistant professor of management at Niagara University, New York. “I enjoy developing and testing new experiential learning techniques and uncovering novel ways to cocreate value for students and our surrounding communities.”

Inouye received his bachelor of arts in psychology, executive master of business administration, and doctor of philosophy in business administration from UH Mānoa. After receiving his PhD and while at Niagara University, he earned a master of science in sport management. He also holds university-granted certificates in ethnic studies and international management.

Over the course of a quick three years, Todd Inouye arrived at UH Hilo, was promoted, received tenure, and became director of the university’s business and economics college.

Research into teaching methods

Inouye says his most important contributions to the field of management stem from research and service that support and integrate well into his teaching.

In the fall of 2019, a teaching article of his is under third-round review at the Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education. The article describes an international coffee supply chain negotiation developed by Inouye and coauthor James Kling, from Niagara University, that increases students’ mastery of negotiation, supply chain management, and business ethics. Inouye is using this negotiation method as part of his supply chain module in a class on international business management.

Another pedagogical-related project is one in which students participate in a structured negotiation between a sports facility manager and an events coordinator to put on an international friendly soccer match in Mexico.

“We are attempting to see if modeling unfamiliar cultural tendencies in negotiation increases student cultural awareness,” he explains. “At the same time, we are providing these students experiential learning in both facility management and event coordination.”

Another early-stage collaboration is with Sukhwa Hong, a colleague at the College of Business and Economics, to develop an experiential teaching module which uses data analytics to conduct real market research to inform firm strategy.

“I involve my students and my community in research where possible, they are active participants in developing new teaching methods for the classroom,” he says. “I use their valuable feedback to continuously improve my teaching effectiveness.”

Research into minority entrepreneurs

Another study Inouye coauthored makes a surprising discovery about “America First” policy and the resulting anti-immigrant backlash taking place in the United States. Iouye and a research team find the policy actually encourages minority entrepreneurs to activate their diaspora networks in order to do more business abroad.

“This results in higher rates of exporting and an increased resiliency in these types of firms, which directly counteracts negativity in the current political and social climate,” says Inouye.

The study, “Counteracting Globalization’s Skeptics: How Diasporas Influence the Internationalization Preferences of Minority Entrepreneurs’ Firms” (Global Strategy Journal, Oct. 23, 2019), is co-authored by Inouye and colleagues Amol M. Joshi, Oregon State University; Iman Hemmatian, California Polytechnic State University; and Jeffrey A. Robinson, Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Analyzing over 20,000 U.S. small businesses, the researchers find evidence that “minority entrepreneurs’ firms prefer to leapfrog into markets, mitigate risks via contractual and bounded commitments, and target countries that are more ethnically and linguistically fractionalized.” Thus, the research team finds, diaspora membership actually counteracts skepticism about globalization.

“My work in management diversity research is very relevant to our nation which is a nation of diasporas — unless one is Native Hawaiian or Native American — as well as our state which has no ethnic majority,” Inouye explains. “Minority entrepreneurs need to know that they can find competitive advantages by embracing their multi-ethnic personal [and] business networks and there is no need to attend to the negative protectionist rhetoric that at times is present in the popular press.”

Inouye brings the findings of this research into the classroom where students learn how attending UH Hilo, the most diverse campus in the nation, and participating in diverse teams can support their future success in business.

By Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of Keaohou and UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.