Datum 2021-05-24
Artikeltyp Reportage

Meet Emre Yildiz: He challenges established truths

This article was written before our official name change on January 1, 2022 from Mälardalen University (MDH) to Mälardalen University (MDU).

Emre Yildiz

After completing his PhD at the Stockholm School of Economics, Emre Yildiz was awarded the Wallander Scholarship in 2014. He did his postdoc at Uppsala University and since then has taught International Business at Mälardalen University in parallel with conducting research.

He has been awarded the Best Reviewer Awards Academy of International Business four times and the Academy of Management three times.

He was also awarded the Best Reviewer Award by the Journal of World Business and The Developmental Reviewer of the Year Award by the Academy of Management Review, one of the most prominent journals in the business community.

Basically, his research is about how social players grow and develop in dynamic and complex situations, whether the partner consists of a group, an individual, a company or something else.

But above all, he wants to challenge the accepted standard. For Emre Yildiz, his journey towards a research profession happened after a degree in Economics and International Entrepreneurship and courses in Social Psychology, after he realised the importance of cultural differences for companies that invested internationally.

"I combine different types of theories. Partly strictly structural and partly softer theories that are governed by emotions, people and values. For example, do I see you as "us”, you and me together, or as someone from outside? This type of perception is formed horizontally, while status is a vertical state. The interesting thing arises when we combine the two instead of studying individually, he explains, not least in a complex world, where the abundance of information means that we constantly need to learn new things,” says Yildiz.

And Emre Yildiz has many irons in the fire. For instance, he has investigated Absorptive Capacity, which is an individuals’ ability to absorb and use knowledge in a group, which is widely regarded as a crucial factor to succeed in dynamic and knowledge-intensive environments. Another project is about how digitalisation affects the innovation ability of Swedish companies and their capacity to grow internationally. But Yildiz has also received several noteworthy awards for his role as a reviewer for scientific journals.

“I am passionate about finding things that stand out, an anomaly, and then questioning and combining that with past wisdom. Development constantly creates new puzzles where we must step outside our comfort zone to examine the pieces,” says Yildiz.

He cites "experience" as an example, a concept that usually implies that we make better decisions. But is experience always a good thing? Can it actually limit an individual's understanding if experience has led to a locked opinion?

For example, you refer to the Coleman Boat.*

“Exactly, and this is important. Groups consist of a collection of individuals but understanding them is not the same as understanding the group. Hiring a smart and creative person does not automatically lead to the whole organisation becoming smarter. The challenge is to understand how to get the collective units to act as one would wish, because it all depends on how the members interact in the situation."

Who benefits most from your research?

"I would obviously say individuals, employees and decision-makers. Applied research is to hold up a mirror and then I recount what I see. The value of examining all levels is that I can show the wood and not just the trees at the same time. Large, international companies benefit in particular from this, because they are complex and do not know what is going on in their subsidiaries around the world. The research gives them a benchmark that shows where they stand compared with the norm."

Have you cooperated with companies or public authorities up to now?

"Not yet, but sometimes we conduct surveys on them, which is of course a form of cooperation. My driving force is curiosity, and if the issue is interesting enough, I can go to great lengths to find the answer.

In parallel with carrying out research, Emre Yildiz teaches International Business at Bachelor and Master level, and soon he also hopes to educate research students."

What advice would you like to give someone who wants to do research?

“You have to be smart, curious and extremely ambitious. If two of these characteristics are in place, just go for it. After that, the best tip is not to follow your first thought but start researching the next one. Sometimes your intuition and the first idea may seem plausible, but we still cannot settle for the notion that "the earth is flat." Only through critical thinking, hard work and curiosity can we get around what seems right at first glance, reveal the correct insights into phenomena around us and develop science further."

What trends do you see?

“In addition to digitalisation, a social trend where we see things from a larger perspective and old categories are broken up. Take Skatteverket (the Swedish Tax Agency) which has always divided people into women or men; it's not that easy anymore. Besides, everything we need is on our mobiles. This means that the boundaries of what companies look like are becoming increasingly fluid, while young people have a completely new outlook on power and hierarchy. Today, one questions leaders and institutions, and one wonders about what is needed in order to develop. Basically, it's about adapting and living a good life, where a strength is to be flexible."

What do you do when you're not working?

“At the moment I don't have much spare time, as we have a new-born baby at home, but I read quite a lot outside my subject field. Besides, we love nature, both my wife and I. I haven't tried winter bathing yet, but it's on my bucket list."

Finally, what is the best thing about life as a researcher?

"That I get to work with my hobby, and I get paid for it.”


sociology* A visual representation of a sociological theory that can be used to explain how macro-level things affect things at the micro level, and how the macro level simultaneously consists of small-scale events and activities.

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