For the young Kip Becker, growing up in a military family meant adapting to mobility and change. As the child of a Marine officer, Becker became accustomed to packing his bags every two years, waving goodbye to fledgling friendships, and heaving out to the next destination. He went wherever his father was stationed, throughout the United States and many places abroad—Europe, Asia, or the mid-Pacific. “You had to learn to make a friend and move a lot, which set you up for the global economy,” says Becker, who today is associate professor and chair of MET’s Department of Administrative Sciences.
Over the course of his career, Becker has remained globally attuned, forward thinking, and engaged. He has guided the Administrative Sciences Department and its students through more than twenty years of evolution in the international marketplace. In the last five years, says Becker, the marketing field has gone through tremendous changes that have shaken the whole industry. “Product lifecycles used to be fifteen years, then ten years, then five years. Now, they’re a year. Before, you would just focus on improving features of a product. Now, it’s about coming out with a totally different product. You have to be prepared to reinvent yourself and not just advance incrementally. It’s a completely different way of thinking, and many management people are not trained for it. I want our students to be prepared to adapt to the rapid changes occurring in the field of international business.”
The idea of change suits Becker, who describes himself as someone who craves excitement and adventure. “I have two guiding rules: one is never to say, I wish I had done this, and the other is never to have my finest moments behind me.”
In 1966, after a spell playing guitar in the coffeehouses of San Francisco, Becker was drafted into the Army. Soon after, he found himself in Vietnam, piloting helicopters. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and 32 air medals symbolizing over a thousand combat flight hours. Bitten by the flying bug, Becker subsequently put in 17 years as an aviator with the National Guard. He decided to retire his wings after a final stint of active duty as a medical evacuation helicopter pilot in Desert Storm. “In 1991, I traded my helicopters and airplanes for my sailing boat.”
Becker—who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology from the University of Delaware, an MBA from Wilmington University, and a doctorate from Florida State University—arrived at MET in 1984. Considering his nomadic upbringing and thirst for adventure, it is hardly surprising that he never intended to stay more than two years. When the time came, however, he found himself reassessing his situation. “I just absolutely love what I do,” asserts Becker.
With over fifty academic articles, books, and chapters to his name, Becker is a prolific researcher. He is editor of the Journal of Transnational Management, technology and business editor of the Journal of Euromarketing, and serves on the editorial boards of Strategic Outsourcing, the Journal of Teaching in International Business, and the Journal of Business and Information Technology, among others. He is also a member of the board of the International Management Development Association, and is country director for the United States, board of the European and Mediterranean (EuroMed) Research Business Institute (EMRBI).
As department chair, Becker is pleased that the faculty share a cohesive vision. “We have a common perspective on how to go about organizing our thoughts on business, and a shared idea that business is becoming more horizontal,” he notes. “Everyone in the department is doing research in collaboration with others here. We have fascinating conversations about all kinds of different areas that you don’t have in traditional business schools.”
The department’s collective ambition, research, and commitment to internationalism paid off in a big way in February 2012, when the Administrative Sciences graduate degree programs received accreditation by the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) Program Accreditation System (EPAS)—placing MET alongside just one other U.S. institution to have received such accreditation. “That is really a highlight for the department this year,” remarks Becker. “There is no other school in the states that has the EPAS accreditation combined with accreditation by AACSB International and the Project Management Institute’s Global Accreditation Center. We’ve really carved out a top-quality, business school statement.”
Hot on the heels of EPAS, Becker was recognized for 25 years of service to the discipline of international marketing by the Academy for Global Business Advancement (AGBA). The award, their highest honor, was presented to Becker during the AGBA’s 9th World Congress at Ajman University of Science and Technology in the United Arab Emirates (at which Becker presented an opening address). MET Associate Dean Tanya Zlateva praised the honor as “a tribute to Professor Becker’s standing in the academic community, his expertise, and his ability to build bridges across borders and bring together people from different countries to collaborate on challenging problems.”
AGBA Founding President and CEO Dr. Zafar Ahmed, who is also professor of marketing and international business at University of Dammam, Saudi Arabia, writes, “Dr. Becker’s world-class, scholarly journal articles, distinguished professional writings, and globally acclaimed presentations have clearly shown that he continually strives to update his skills and abilities, and, as such, he is at the leading edge of his field of marketing and international business on the global stage. His recent articles on e-commerce and social networks show a world-class academic who continues to reinvent himself.”
According to Dr. David McArthur, program chair of the 9th World Congress, Becker has the strength of being an approachable and direct mentor to his peers. “As an AGBA Fellow, Dr. Becker plays an important leadership role in helping to prepare both young and experienced members of the Academy. He teaches not only the scientific method as used in business research, but the creative parts of research design and the very human craftsmanship needed for academic publication. He is a magnet for members of the Academy who have questions about this vital part of their profession.”
Becker takes it in stride, perhaps reminding himself that he still doesn’t have his best moments behind him. “You can’t get overly zealous about awards, but it forced me to reflect on what I have been doing for 25 years, and what I might have helped others to learn in that time,” he says.
“The BU community has certainly motivated me—I love the entrepreneurship, the ability to develop programs and build the department, and being able to focus on things that are important to me, such as institutional goals and quality, and the people. If I could design the perfect job, this would be it.”
» Want to Expand Your Horizons in International Marketing? See MET students explain what motivated them to pursue MS in International Marketing Management at BU’s Metropolitan College.