Petty has taught at Virginia Tech University, Texas Tech University, the University of Texas at Austin, and served as the dean of the business school at Abilene Christian University. At Baylor University, he has been designated as a University Master Teacher, the highest honor bestowed by the University on a faculty member. His research interests include valuation and acquisitions of privately-held companies, the financing of entrepreneurial firms, and shareholder value-based management.
He has served as the co-editor for the Journal of Financial Research and as the editor of the Journal of Entrepreneurial and Small Business Finance. He has published in numerous finance journals and is the co-author of two leading corporate finance textbook, Basic Financial Management, and Foundations of Finance, and co-author of a widely used text, Small Business Management. He conducted a study sponsored by the Financial Executive International on exit strategies in privately held companies (Harvesting Investments in Private Companies). He also co-authored Value-Based Management: Corporate America's Response to the Shareholder Revolution, (Harvard Business School Press/Oxford University Press), the original edition of the current book.
Petty has served as a subject matter expert on a best-practices study by the American Productivity and Quality Center on the topic of shareholder value based management. He also served on a research team for the Australian Department of Industry to study the feasibility of establishing a public equity market for small and medium-sized enterprises in Australia. He has also taught in an executive MBA program in Thailand and China and conducted seminars in Indonesia and Russia. Finally, he serves on the Board of Directors of a publicly-traded oil and gas firm.