A change of research environment and a desire for new challenges brought Michael S. Dahl to Aarhus BSS

Everyday, Michael drives from Aalborg to Aarhus. He now has a new workplace after seeking new challenges at the Department of Management. In this interview, Michael talks about his research and what he is working on at the moment - and he also shares his experiences in the field of education.

2016.02.02 | Julia Rolsted Stacey

Michael Dahl in the University Park shortly after he began working at Aarhus BSS. Photo: Julia Rolsted Stacey, Aarhus BSS Communication.

Why did you choose to apply for the job?

I wanted to try something new after having worked at Aalborg University for a long period of time. The department and Aarhus BSS are heading for exciting times with interesting challenges which I would like to be part of. The department comprises a great deal of competent qualitative researchers in my field, while my own research has primarily been quantitative in nature. I hope that I’ll be able to contribute to strengthening the PhD area by offering supervision within quantitive research on organisations and entrepreneurship. In addition, I have an extensive network and a solid experience in developing, applying for and conducting external research projects. 

What is your field of research?

Right now, I am studying the wider effects of entrepreneurial companies. I am exploring how employment in an entrepreneurial company affects the employee’s long-term career. The risk of the company closing down is typically greater than in other types of companies. I explore what employees learn and can take with them if the company ends up closing down, and of course, I also explore how employees do in the long run compared to when the company is a success.

What have you worked with before?

Originally, I studied company clusters - geographical and regional -, and this led to my research into entrepreneurs as these turned out to be very central to the clusters. Afterwards, I became interested in what happens internally in large companies, and part of my research has focused on organisational changes and stress. One of the most prominent papers I have co-written focused on how employees in 1,500 Danish companies experienced internal organisational changes - which we explored e.g. by looking at stress among the organisations’ employees. Many of my papers have been positioned in between the fields of management, economy, sociology and health.

How can you contribute to the department?

In my view, it’s important to contribute positively to a research environment by offering PhD supervision, and I’ve thought a lot about what it takes to be a good supervisor. Before Christmas, I gave a presentation to the PhD students at the department on cooperation and co-authorship. I also talked about my personal experiences with processes that were either successful or less successful. I gave the students an insight into some of the projects which I used to collaborate on with experienced researchers and into what to be aware of in such a process.

As I have worked at another university, I am bringing a different set of experiences to the department, and I would like to pass on my knowledge of how young researchers best succeed in publishing their work, what journals they should choose, and how they can apply for external projects early on in their career and thus strengthen their research.

I have worked in the US several times and have also taken courses on discussion-based teaching in the US. In Aalborg, I taught a lot on the MBA programme. This has given me a lot of experience in how to apply a more discussion-based form of teaching - where the lecturers function more as moderators than as lecturers. The students develop analytical skills, and they become able to evaluate what to do in specific situations where they are challenged in their companies.

In my experience, it’s a good idea to combine various forms of instruction. My teaching works the best when I succeed in integrating teaching on theories and models etc. with student participation and discussions.

Who is Michael in private?

I live with my family in the eastern part of Aalborg. My wife is a physiotherapist, and we have two boys aged 7 and 10. In my spare time, I coach my boys’ soccer team. I also work out several times a week. Another one of my hobbies is cooking, and I like to do the cooking at home - preferably food which tastes of foreign countries.