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Professor of Business Administration with specialisation in Marketing at the School of Business, Engineering and Science. Appointed in 2014.
Truth. For many, this is perhaps primarily something abstract – a concept one normally does not spend much time reflecting on. However, this is not the case for Klaus Solberg Søilen who has worked as a professor of business administration at Halmstad University since 2014. For him, the search for the truth – what can actually be proven based on empirical findings– is the essence of science, and what drives him:
“Every day, we have to fight for the truth. You don’t have to go back very far in time to find yourself in a period when the search for truth and science were not always the same thing. Think of scientists who lived at the time of Tycho Brahe – people who actually risked their lives for the truth. Therefore, it is important to invest in research and let it be free”, says Klaus Solberg Søilen.
His research can be divided into two areas: intelligence studies and digital marketing. He is closely affiliated with industry and he has studied, among other things, how companies can increase their sales through effective marketing at trade shows, which he wrote about in the book “Exhibit Marketing & Trade Show Intelligence – Successful Boothmanship and Booth Design” from 2013.
Another example of the application of his research is the research project that uses digital technology to get people to come back to shopping centres, which he wrote about in the 2014 book “Product Development in the Socio-Sphere – Game Changing Paradigms for 21st Century Breakthrough Product Development and Innovation”. Digital technology, such as e-commerce, apps and smartphones, has so far been seen as a threat to physical stores, but Klaus Solberg Søilen and his colleagues have shown that the technology can rather be seen as an opportunity.
Klaus Solberg Søilen is a prolific author of scientific articles, which is not least evident from the number of hits you get when searching on his name in the DiVA publishing system. He has also published half a dozen books and is editor of the scientific Journal of Intelligence Studies in Business (JISIB), indexed by SCOPUS. The journal is now even part of Web of Science, and has also received funding from the Swedish Research Council.
So what makes a man in the middle of his career choose academia?
“My great thirst for knowledge probably comes from my parents who read a lot, although we never discussed science as such. A search for knowledge is probably what led me to science. Suddenly I realised that they’re connected – creating new knowledge through science. My love for books was awakened during my studies in the USA and France, and it’s probably what eventually led me into the world of research”, says Klaus Solberg Søilen.
He had a dream of obtaining a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree followed by a PhD in different countries, which he did. The countries were England, France and Germany which attracted him because of their culture and literature.
“Then, while I was working as an accountant at KPMG in Oslo, I had the opportunity to write a thesis in Germany.”
That the subject turned out to be economics was sheer coincidence, however.
“I became an economist because there was a demand for it in Norway in the 1970s and 80s, similar to the way my father became an engineer one generation before me”, says Klaus Solberg Søilen.
Klaus Solberg Søilen emphasises that the teaching conducted by him and his colleagues is important to their research.
“Everything we do is to be used as knowledge and skills in life, in my case, for the companies and organizations of tomorrow. This is a task that I take very seriously – I enjoy giving lectures to students and seeing how they begin to understand the importance of science. I want to focus on the core – research and teaching”, he says.
One of Klaus Solberg Søilen’s major goals for the future is to continue his work with the journal and improve its ranking, which is a challenge as intelligence studies is a small area of study. He also wants to always improve his lectures – an activity that now has a new dimension to it after becoming a parent.
“I see the students as my own children and I look forward to keep lecturing for another 20 years – at least.”
Klaus Solberg Søilen was born in 1968 in Levanger, Norway. After studying economics and political science, he worked as an auditor at KPMG in Oslo. From the company, he received a scholarship which enabled him to write, in Germany, on a part-time basis, his doctoral thesis on economics. The thesis is about industrial espionage. Klaus Solberg Søilen has previously worked at the Copenhagen Business School and Blekinge Institute of Technology. At Blekinge Institute of Technology, he both set up and was the first head of the MBA (Master of Business Administration) programme. Klaus Solberg Søilen has been a visiting research fellow at CEIBS in Shanghai and at Stanford in California. He became senior lecturer in 2011 and professor in 2014.