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Karl-Erik Michelsen

Karl-Erik (Kalle) Kristian Michelsen
Born May 5, 1957 Ähtäri

Mater of Arts 1984, Licentiate 1993, PhD 1993 (Finnish History), University of Helsinki; Master of Arts 1988 (Sociology of science and technology) University of Pennsylvania

Professor 1993–, Lappeenranta University of Technology
Project director 2000–03, Academy of Finland
Research coordinator 1997–99, Academy of Finland
Associate professor 1995–96, Department of History, University of Helsinki
Docent 1993– (Finnish History), University of Helsinki
Junior research fellow 1991–94, Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla)
Research associate 1988, University Of Pennsylvania
Research associate 1984–85, 1988–90, Department of History, University of Helsinki

Research themes: the history of science and technology, change in modern industrial society, enterprises in change, and the study of complex societal change.

Valtio, teknologia, tutkimus (‘The state, technology and research,’ 1993)
Viides Sääty (‘The fifth estate,’ 1999)
Työ, tuottavuus, tehokkuus (‘Work, productivity, efficiency,’ 2002)
Suomalainen ydinvoimalaitos ( ‘A Finnish nuclear power plant,’2005)
Global Innovator (2006)
KONE- perhe, yritys ja yrittäjyys teollisuuden vuosisadalla (‘The Kone family, enterprise and entrepreneurship in a century of industry,’ 2013)

Research projects:
Suomen lehdistön historia (‘The history of the Finnish press,’1985)
American Genesis (1987–88)
Metsätieteellisen tutkimuksen historia (‘The history of forest science research,’1993–95)
Suomen tieteen historia (‘The history of Finnish science,’1996–97)
We have never been modern (1997–99)
Osaaminen Suomessa (‘Expertise in Finland,’ 2001–03)
Europe goes critical (2007–09)
History of Nuclear Energy and Society (2015–18)

Awards and special achievements:
Finnish Society of Electronics Engineers prize 2002
Finnish Society for the History of Technology Silver Badge of Merit
Erkki Laurila Award 2007, Finnish Nuclear Society
Award of recognition 2014, Finnish Business School Graduates prize for literature 2014
Award of recognition 2014, Society of the Friends of History

Photo: Teemu Leinonen, Lappeenranta University of Technology
Written by Karl-Erik Michelsen (Olli Siitonen & Tiia Niemelä, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Research into entrepreneurship and technology

For many reasons, nuclear power has been a crucial subject for me. To begin with, it is entirely politicised, and it is the only form of energy produced by human beings. Moreover, it embraces the elements of science, technology, war, peace, progress, and destruction. I was able to research the history of nuclear power with Tuomo Särkikoski in the Loviisa project that resulted in the book Suomalainen ydinvoimalaitos (‘A Finnish Nuclear Power Plant’). The project is now continuing as a European research project which aims to investigate the relationship between nuclear power and civic society from a historical perspective.

Engineers are the rulers of the modern world, since engineers are in control of technology and the planning of technology. At the turn of the millennium, I researched engineers and turned my findings into an in-depth analysis entitled Viides Sääty (‘The fifth estate’). It contains a vast amount of theoretical and empirical knowledge on how Finland was constructed over a period of four centuries.

Enterprise, entrepreneurship, and family were the complex that formed the subject of my book KONE. In the book, I recount the story of a family and a company during the century of industry. I had the great privilege to study unique records that provided a rich picture of the growth of a small company into a large enterprise and finally into a global player. The research and writing process of KONE must have been my most demanding project to date.

Photo: K-E Michelsen.


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