Jørn Flohr Nielsen to continue as emeritus professor

On 27 January, Professor Jørn Flohr Nielsen will give a farewell lecture and mark his new role as emeritus professor at the Department of Management.

2017.01.10 | Julia Rolsted Stacey

Professor Jørn Flohr Nielsen. Photo: Julia Rolsted Stacey, Aarhus BSS Communication.

Friday 27 January will be a festive day for Jørn Flohr Nielsen. On this day, the professor celebrates his career by giving a farewell lecture. He would like to say thanks for everything and mark his transition to emeritus professor. In this way, Jørn maintains his affiliation to the department and will continue to supervise and teach - however less so than today.

Research must be in balance

Jørn studies organisational changes and according to him, his research is positioned in between two fields. Economists would describe Jørn as a “soft” researcher, while anthropological researchers would call Jørn a “hard” researcher. Jørn believes that all research must contain both soft and hard approaches - in other words, he believes that research must strike a balance between rigorousness and relevance. When it comes to his research, he does not believe in “fast solutions”. According to Jørn, organisational changes are necessary, but people should also be allowed to oppose changes.

“We tend to believe that people who oppose organisational changes are reactionary, but listening to constructive resistance can actually be good for the organisation and can contribute to its development,” says Jørn.

As a researcher and lecturer, one of Jørn’s central claims has been that organisational changes are most succesful when the implementation is carried out properly. Thorough preparatory work is of the essence, and it is also important to carry out analyses before making any decisions on major change processes. Jørn’s research emphasises how important it is for organisations to include the employees if they want to succeed. Good management means setting up scenarios for the future, presenting these to the involved employees and listening to their input before the final decisions are made.

Is organisational research useful?

The title of Jørn’s farewell lecture is “Is organisational research useful?” In the lecture, Jørn will talk about his career - including some of the different research projects in which he has been involved.

In the last few years, one particular project stands out. The project focuses on how you can apply results from patient satisfaction survey as input for changing how hospitals are organised. Studies show that patient input can contribute to introducing new routines and may serve as inspiration as for how departments can be organised more appropriately.  Even simple changes can have a significant impact on the patient’s hospital experience.

Jørn will also talk about three selected projects with municipalities and banks, and a project concerning management in innovative groups. In addition, he will talk about his extensive involvement in the internal organisational changes at Aarhus University up until 2014, where Jørn was the chairman of the panel responsible for the problem analysis.

Management and administrative tasks

Throughout his career, Jørn has had a number of administrative posts. Some of them are:

  • Head of the Department of Management at the Aarhus School of Business from 2008-2011
  • Member of the Academic Council from 2011 to 2015
  • Head of section at the former Section of Management, the Department of Economics at Aarhus University 1995-1997
  • Chairman of the board of studies at the Department of Economics at Aarhus University 1989-1991

Plans for the future

Family, cooking, baking, literature and football will take up more of Jørn’s time in the future after he becomes emeritus professor, but he will still cultivate his research interests, e.g. by participating in selected research collaborations. Jørn is married to a former school teacher, and they have a 32-year old daughter. Like her dad, she holds an MSc in economics and works for Copenhagen Capacity.