UAH welcomes Dr. Frank Mullins to the College of Business

Frank Mullins

Dr. Frank Mullins interacts with College of Business students. Mullins, an Associate Professor of Management is a new faculty member at UAH.

Michael Mercier | UAH

Frank Mullins credits his father, the late Robert Mullins, a college professor, for encouraging him to pursue a career in business management. But, it was in Prudence Pollard's undergraduate management course "that I found my passion in Human Resource Management," said Dr. Frank I. Mullins, Associate Professor of Management at The University of Alabama in Huntsville's (UAH) College of Business.

New to the university, Mullins was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. "I initially became familiar with UAH while an undergraduate student at Oakwood University. I would frequently visit the M. Louis Salmon Library during my junior and senior years to study and conduct research," Mullins said. "So, this past academic year when I saw the posting for a faculty opening in Human Management (HRM) at UAH, I was naturally intrigued. Ultimately, I was impressed by the strategic direction of UAH, the College of Business (COB) leadership, the research productivity and collegiality of the COB faculty, and the quality of the HRM programs," he added.

Before coming to UAH, Mullins was an Assistant Professor of Management in the College of Business and Economics at North Carolina A&T State University (N.C.A&T). While there, he taught graduate and undergraduate courses in HRM strategy, compensation and benefits, training and development, staffing, survey of HRM, and organizational behavior. In addition, he taught undergraduate courses in HRM at Syracuse University (SU) in Syracuse, N.Y., and at Elon University in Elon, N.C.

As he advanced in his undergraduate and graduate studies, Mullins learned to think systematically and holistically about the business enterprise. He later developed an affinity for HRM in the context of family firms. "In my latest research article, "A Piece of the Pie? The Effects of Familial Control Enhancements on the Use of Broad‐Based Employee Ownership Programs in Family Firms," I focus on employee ownership in family firms. According to prior research, founding family owners are reluctant to share ownership broadly with non-family employees because doing so would diminish their control over the firm," Mullins said.

"The article’s findings reveal that founding family owners become less resistant to sharing ownership when they hold dual-class shares. Essentially, dual-class shares, which provide the founding family with enhanced voting power, can insulate them from any potential control loss due to sharing ownership broadly with employees, thereby making them more inclined to do so," he said. Mullins’ article was published in August 2017 at the journal titled Human Resource Management.

"Family firms are fascinating because they are everywhere and have a significant economic impact in countries around the world," Mullins said. "Scholars estimate that a vast majority of business enterprises globally are family firms, and they range from your small mom-and-pop business to large, publicly-traded firms. Also, family firms collectively employ around 80 percent of the nation's workforce," he added. In addition, Mullins said, family firms behave differently than non-family firms primarily due to their longer-term orientation. "Through my research, I am extending the literature on family firms by focusing on the role that HRM plays in their performance."

Mullins noted that while there are several notable family firms, he has been particularly impressed with Wegmans Food Markets, a regional supermarket chain with 94 stores based out of Rochester, NY. "Wegmans has the philosophy that if we take care of our employees, our employees will in turn take care of our customers, and if our customers are satisfied, our shareholders will be satisfied," Mullins explained. "As a result, Wegmans is tremendously successful in their industry and continues to be recognized annually (number 2 out of 100 for 2017) as one of the ‘Best Companies to Work For’ by Fortune Magazine. Lastly, I do see family firms as providing more stable employment, and there is compelling research that supports this."

Mullins’ current research agenda focuses on the relationship between corporate governance and HRM. Specifically, he examines the effects of various corporate governance mechanisms on the use and effectiveness of a firm’s HRM policies and practices, namely those activities that demonstrate a longer-term commitment to the workforce. "To date, much of my research has focused on how large shareholders (founding family owners and institutional investors) affect HRM in publicly-traded firms," Mullins said. "However, my upcoming research projects focus on how the HRM activities of a firm are influenced by the board of directors and the effectiveness of different HRM activities in family firms."

At UAH, Mullins will teach undergraduate and graduate courses in Human Resources and Labor Relations Management, and Strategic Compensation Management. There will also be opportunities for him to engage and assist students conducting research.

Simply put, Mullins said, he likes teaching because he enjoys helping students grow and develop. "My teaching philosophy is based on the notion that when students are actively engaged in the learning process, their motivation to learn and achieve is greatly enhanced. Essentially, my primary goal is to prepare students to successfully pursue and achieve their career goals. I get excited when my students are highly motivated and committed to learning because they come to class prepared and make meaningful contributions, which serves to elevate the learning experience for them as well as their classmates."

While his dad and undergraduate professors were mentors in his early life, Mullins credits his academic and professional growth in later years to three other people. "The first is my PhD advisor and dissertation chair, Ravi Dharwadkar, Professor at SU. The second is Joseph Blasi, Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University (RU). Last, but not least, is James Dean, former Executive Chancellor and Provost at UNC Chapel Hill. All are exceptional in teaching, research, and service, so I seek to follow their examples in these key areas."

As many first time business owners are getting younger, Mullins has some advice about entrepreneurship. "For those that want to start their own business but have no idea as to the type of business, my advice would be to first identify a need in our society and then create a business that addresses it in ways that are different from all other businesses," he said. "Look around and talk to people. Sometimes that need is readily apparent in your life or in the lives of other people. Once you have identified the type of business you want to start, you need to develop a detailed business plan that highlights the mission, strategy, industry, target market, competition, and financial resources needed, for your business."

Mullins goes on to say, once there is a viable business plan, aspiring entrepreneurs must be fully capable of making that plan a reality, and be prepared to work hard. "The survival rate for start-ups is very low; however, the rewards of having your own successful business can be numerous. For people of color, my advice would be to consider entrepreneurship as a viable option and to think outside of the box when considering a type of business. There are great opportunities for new ventures that leverage cutting-edge science and technology to innovatively address societal needs."

He holds professional certifications including SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) from the Society for Human Resource Management and Certificate in the Art and Craft of Discussion Leadership from Harvard Business Publishing. Mullins is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including Academic Affairs Faculty Fellow by the University of North Carolina system; Louis O. Kelso Fellow by RU School of Management and Labor Relations and the Employee Ownership Foundation; Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award from N.C. A&T; IBM Knowledge Advantage Award; and Faculty Award for Excellence in Strategy and Human Resources from SU Whitman School of Management.

Mullins obtained a BSBM from Oakwood University (Huntsville, AL). He earned PhD (Business Administration) and MBA degrees (HRM emphasis) from the SU Whitman School of Management (Syracuse, N. Y.) in 2011 and 2001, respectively. During his PhD studies, he was an Exchange Scholar at Cornell University, Industrial and Labor Relations School.

He is married to Maquisha Mullins, who earned a PhD (2016) in Leadership Studies from N.C.A&T. The Mullinses have three sons, Jared, Darin, and Caleb. Once the family settles in, they plan to spend time further exploring Huntsville and the greater Tennessee Valley Area.


Violet Edwards