Entrepreneurship, innovation, governance and family business: meet Professor Mattias Nordqvist
Q: Where are you from?
A: I grew up in Mantorp, which is a small village between Mjölby and Linköping in Östergötland, and I currently live in Jönköping. Fun fact: Jönköping houses the only Match museum (as in safety-match) in the world!
Q: What did you do before joining SSE?
A: Right before joining the House of Innovation, I worked at Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) as a professor of Business Administration, focusing on strategy and entrepreneurship. There I also served as the Director for Center for Family Enterprise and Ownership (CeFEO). I have also held roles as Associate Dean at JIBS and as a Co-Director of the Global STEP Project on Family Enterprise at Babson College, USA.
Q: Why did you decide to join SSE?
A: Because of all the great things that are happening at SSE! The formation of House of Innovation is of course one of the main reasons, with its vision to become a leading hub for research, education, and outreach in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, and digitalization.
I’m also very impressed with the overall vision of SSE to become a new kind of international business school, its values, the SSE Art Initiative, and other activities to bring in more of the humanities in business education and research. In general, I really like to work at the intersection between education, research, and outreach. I feel like SSE and House of Innovation will offer me the right opportunities to do this.
Q: What are your research interests?
A: My general research interests embrace entrepreneurship, innovation, and ownership/governance in different types of family firms and in other private companies. Examples of current research projects focus on new venture creation and governance, sustainability in large family-controlled businesses, entrepreneurship and strategic renewal in family businesses and the role of literature and fiction to understand entrepreneurship and management
Q: Can you tell us about your work at SSE?
A: My work at SSE centers on teaching, research, and outreach activities, including collaboration with companies and organizations. In addition to the research projects mentioned above, I teach entrepreneurship and innovation in the SSE EMBA program, entrepreneurship at the MSc-level and I’m also involved in the thesis work by our master students. In terms of outreach and collaboration with companies, I’m exploring different ways how we can work more with family-controlled companies as well as with organizations that support such companies.
Q: What projects do you plan to start at SSE?
A: I have a few projects in the planning stage: one on sustainability and entrepreneurship in family businesses, another on how we better understand governance and ownership choices in new ventures, and a last one on innovation in entrepreneurial family businesses. In teaching, I hope to have the possibility to develop a new course and in outreach, I’m involved in building new collaborations with external organizations that may be interested in my area of expertise.
Q: What has been the most fun task at SSE so far?
A: Oh, there have been so many fun tasks, it is difficult to pick one or two! But if I must, I really enjoyed teaching our students at both EMBA and MSc levels. I also very much appreciate working with and supporting our doctoral students at the House of Innovation.
Q: What’s the most important thing you have learned during the past months at SSE?
A: There are many things. I’ve been at my previous workplaces for a very long time, so now it feels like I’m learning new things every day. One concrete example is how fast we can embrace change if we work together. I was impressed to see how quick colleagues came together and helped each other to cope with the new reality caused by the spread of COVID-19.
Q: Favorite lunch discussion with colleagues?
A: Oh, difficult question! Related to work, I think it is how to make research more interesting and impactful for the entrepreneurs, companies, and organizations we study while at the same time defend the importance of rigor in our research. Personally, I don’t think there is a trade-off between rigor and relevance. I also enjoy a great discussion about how we can draw more on the humanities to make research and teaching in entrepreneurship and innovation more interesting and novel.
Q: What do you do outside of work?
A: Most of the time I have available outside of work I spend with my family and friends. My two children are very active in sports, so a lot of time is spent on their activities. But I also like traveling (mostly to Italy where my wife comes from), skiing, cooking and – wine. I have a sauna in my house which I have re-designed into a wine cellar – or wine sauna as I call it. Literature is also a big interest.
Q: Most fun activity in Stockholm?
A: Being fairly new to the city, I really enjoy just walking around and exploring the many different places and parts of the city. Stockholm really is very beautiful.
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
A: That’s an interesting question! I’m quite boring from this perspective…does spending too much money on collecting wines from Tuscany and Oregon count?
Stay tuned for the second part of this interview, where Mattias will take us deeper in the world of family businesses: most common traits, challenges, values, succession, sustainability and new ventures!