Dr. Graham Brown

Dr. Graham Brown 
ACE Instructor
Gustavson School of Business

Did you know that in addition to teaching in the ACE Program, Dr. Graham Brown is also an entrepreneur, and active berry farm owner?

With expertise in territoriality, psychological ownership, human resource management, leadership, negotiation, and the impact of the built environment and design on human behaviour, Dr. Brown’s passion for sharing his expertise to help others discover and use their passion to create is inspiring the generations of leaders he works with.                     

Dr. Brown began his post-secondary education through his BA in Psychology, which he graduated with from the University of Victoria in 1997. Dr. Brown continued his education, graduating with a Masters of Science in Family Ecology from the University of Utah in 2000, and graduating with a PhD in Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources from the University of British Columbia in 2005. Dr. Brown’s dissertation, which explored territoriality in organizations, was recognized for the PhD Dissertation Award from the International Alliance of Human Resource Research in 2007. Dr. Brown has continued his research on territoriality since graduating with his PhD, which he describes in this interview for the University of Victoria Faces of Research series. Dr. Brown notes that “territoriality is the study of how people claim objects and those can be tangible to intangible objects, things as simple as a stapler or a pen to ideas or roles they might play in an organization, to even relationships.” Dr. Brown’s first study regarding territoriality looked at how employees personalize their workspace to express their identity through their territory. 

After graduating with his PhD, Dr. Brown began teaching at Singapore Management University, where he spent four years as an assistant professor. During his time at Singapore Management University, Dr. Brown was responsible for developing a model leadership program for the university, and was recognized for his teaching and research through multiple awards and grants. Dr. Brown was recognized in the top twenty teachers at Singapore Management University each year from 2005-2008, earning him his place on the Dean’s List for Teaching Excellence each of those years. Additionally, in 2006-2007, Dr. Brown won the Lee Foundation Fellowship for Research Excellence and received the Singapore Management University Research Grant. After teaching at Singapore Management University, Dr. Brown began teaching at the University of British Columbia in 2009. During his time at UBC, Dr. Brown was awarded the UBC Dean’s Research Grant in 2009 and a SSHRC Grant for Research in 2010. Dr. Brown joined the Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria in 2012 as an Assistant Professor teaching entrepreneurship.

At the Gustavson School of Business, Dr. Brown is a Tim Price Fellow, and continues his research about territoriality and psychological ownership. Dr. Brown’s research has been recognized in notable journals and publications, including the Academy of Management Review, Organization Science, Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, and the Harvard Business Review. Dr. Brown applies territoriality and psychological ownership to research topics including workplace conflict, creativity, and negotiation. Dr. Brown’s most recent research focuses on the impacts that feelings around ownership have on the success regarding innovation and new business ventures.

Dr. Brown’s thesis is that feelings regarding ownership have a positive impact in how they propel efforts, but also a negative impact in creating resistance to receiving help and gathering feedback. Dr. Brown’s aim through his research is to provide a better understanding for entrepreneurs of the factors that lead to successful new ventures, and he applies his expertise regarding his research through his teaching to assist entrepreneurs with methods for successful innovation. Dr. Brown has been recognized for his research at the Gustavson School of Business through receiving the Leader of Excellence in Research Award at the Gustavson School of Business in 2013 and as a co-recipient in 2016. In addition to conducting research, Dr. Brown teaches entrepreneurship to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Victoria. Dr. Brown is also involved in other areas of the University of Victoria community, including providing support to the UVic Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs and has previously served on the UVic Research Advisory Committee.

Dr. Brown’s passion for entrepreneurship and mentoring future generations of entrepreneurs to help them use their interests to create is evident through his activities beyond the Gustavson School of Business as well. Dr. Brown is an active entrepreneur and is involved in several ventures in the travel and education industry, including a company he still manages today that he started when he was a student. A recent project of Dr. Brown’s involves a training program he’s developed to help high school students become social entrepreneurs. Dr. Brown is also an active member of the academic community with membership in the Academy of Management and the Society for Industrial Organization Psychology. Dr. Brown is also currently an Editorial Board Member on both the Journal of Environmental Psychology and the Journal of Organizational Behaviour.

Dr. Brown began teaching the ACE Program four years ago, as part of the first cohort. Dr. Brown teaches a module to students in the first course, focusing on providing students with experience managing creativity when identifying their skills and how they can apply them to opportunities they spot for a new venture. Dr. Brown explains that his favourite part about teaching the ACE Program is working with the students. He explains that “[t]hey each come with a passion and desire to build a business not only for themselves but to contribute to their communities. For many of the participants they are not used to formal education and the program is very demanding so it can be challenging, but they appreciate and are thirsty for the ideas and skills we are teaching.” Dr. Brown also notes that what stands out to him most about the ACE Program is the commitment of Program Director, Brent Mainprize, NW-ACE Program Manager, Cory Stephens, and everyone else involved in the program, noting that “everyone involved has put everything into the program. The facilitators and admin really care – as a program we have continued to evolve and adapt to meet the students where they are – both physically (geographically) and their needs (in terms of skills and ideas).”

Dr. Brown has advice for current and graduated students of the ACE Program, telling them to follow their passion, while noting, “[a] good idea is only great if it is aligned with your passion. Being a successful entrepreneur is hard work but worth it if you believe in what you are doing. Take the time to figure out what you really want and why you are doing this. That becomes the fuel you need to go where you want.” For students considering applying to the ACE Program, Dr. Brown explains that they should “[t]alk to past participants – understand what you are getting into. The program is demanding. Things happen that may call you away and you may miss a class but the program is structured so that each lesson builds on the others and each session is a critical piece of your business. Try at all costs to attend every session and throw yourself into the experience. Try your best to clear your plate before you join, talk to your friends and family so they understand what you are doing.”

We at ACE are thankful for the opportunity to work with Dr. Brown as he shares his expertise assisting entrepreneurs in building their toolkit to use innovation to create a unique, sustainable business. To learn more about Dr. Brown and his work, visit these links:


Dr. Graham Brown is an educator of the Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs Program. Many Aboriginal Entrepreneurs have graduated from the award-winning ACE Program, which focuses on bridging Aboriginal culture with the key elements of entrepreneurship and business creation.  The ACE program made possible through the collective efforts of our partnering regions, communities, institutions, and faculties.

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