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Niklas Jensen-Eriksen

Born July 22, 1974.

MA (general history) 1998, University of Helsinki; MPSc  (political science) 2008, University of Helsinki; PhD  (economic history) 2004, London School of Economics and Political Science

Professor of Business History, University of Helsinki 2013-
Researcher 1999-2002 and  2003-04 (University of Helsinki), postdoctoral researcher in 2004-08
Special researcher 2008-09 (Finnish National Archives)
Adjunct professor of European history, University of Helsinki 2009-
Postdoctoral researcher 2009-11 (University of Helsinki)
Academy of Finland researcher 2012-13

Publications, research projects and other scientific activity
Research areas: business and economic history of the Cold War period, business/government relations, forest industries, energy industries, cartels, economic regulation, business history of media

Awards and special achievements:
The TUHAT award of the Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki, for publications in 2014

Photo: Mika Federley
Written by: Niklas Jensen Eriksen and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.)
Translated by: John Calton

Academic matchmaking

A professor’s work consists of bits and pieces. We research different topics, we give lectures, grade exams, apply for funding, read the research literature, give interviews to the media and sit in all manner of meetings. The list goes on.

Few would question the importance of research or teaching, but the administrative workload provides constant cause for complaint. The criticism is often justified. Like elsewhere, the academic world boasts strategy documents that include no strategy, or action plans that don’t plan any action. We also sit in councils that don’t give counselling, or if they do, there’s no-one listening.

Fortunately a professor often finds himself in supervision groups that are really needed to provide expertise advice in tackling some important task. A few hours fly by, with well-informed comments from all sides to be listened to and digested. Finally the professor walks out, convinced that he has learnt at least as much as the people he was advising.

Even ostensibly powerless bodies can throw up surprising benefits. The sum total of information about shared issues grows, even if subsequent decisions are made elsewhere. However, the best thing is getting to know people who you wouldn’t get to meet otherwise. And with a minimum of fuss, the scientific view of the world expands.

For all that, the best form of academic matchmaking is still provided by the academic conference, especially the kind whose schedule includes plenty of coffee breaks, shared meals and other refreshments. The conference presentations form the basis for what subsequently crystallises into shared projects, publications and co-operation, be it over a cup, a glass, or a pint of something. It may even result in a lifelong friendship– no bad thing either.

Photo: Mika Federley.​
Photo: Mika Federley.​


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