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Published: 03 Jun, 2021

Driven by passion and curiosity

PROFILE Oscar Stålnacke has been awarded the 2021 USBE Scientific Award in Business Administration.

Text: Elin Andersson

I have always been interested in society and am driven by a desire to better understand individuals and society.

Oscar Stålnacke works as an associate professor in Finance at the Department of Business Administration. The Steering Committee of the USBE Research Institute award statement reads:

“During his relatively short academic career, Oscar Stålnacke has gone from strength to strength. Besides having published four peer-reviewed articles in international journals and a book chapter, as well as having presented his research at multiple conferences, he has also received funding from numerous funding agencies, received an award for his research, and been co-section head of the accounting/finance section at the Department of Business Administration.”

“As a researcher, I’m driven by passion and curiosity. I work in two fields, household finance and corporate finance, in which I study the financial behaviour and decision-making of individuals,” says Oscar Stålnacke. “I have always been interested in society and am driven by a desire to better understand individuals and society. My research will hopefully add a small piece to that puzzle. Currently, a colleague and I are studying the role of nature and nurture when it comes to the risk of making poor choices when investing in stocks and mutual funds. We can see a clear connection between parents and children. If parents make poor choices, the likelihood of the children doing the same increases. Even if it isn’t particularly surprising, it’s still important to understand since it affects how wealth is distributed within a society over time and hence the social division.”

Chance brought him to academia

In 2020, Oscar Stålnacke was promoted recognised university teacher at Umeå University, but during his own studies, he was unsure whether he wanted to stay in academia.

“It wasn’t a given. The idea probably came to me when I wrote my master thesis. I realised how fun I thought it was to get down to the nitty-gritty in an interesting subject of my own choice. Also, I was lucky that a position as a doctoral student became available with a specialisation I found exciting. I decided to apply and there it goes, so I suppose chance brought me to academia. My background plays a part as well, of course. Both of my parents are PhDs. That has made me see academia as an option. The possible successes that I have had probably derives from the curiosity as well as my joy for working together with others. I’m also rather stubborn, which is necessary in the academic community as research is often a rather long process, in which everything tends to take a lot longer than first anticipated.”

Sweden, and other Nordic countries, are unique internationally since they have detailed register data enabling studies also of those who make decisions in firms.

The importance of leadership for business success

Apart from factors affecting investments in stocks and mutual funds, Oscar Stålnacke has also studied how a firm’s management affects decisions, such as for instance decisions to take the firm public on the stock market.

Oscar Stålnacke works on a project in which he has compiled a database together with colleagues from Umeå University and KU Leuven in Belgium.

“The database primarily compiles Swedish register data in which individual and corporate data has been linked. I hope that the results generated from the database can increase knowledge of the decisions that firms make and provide an understanding of why some firms succeed better than others. Much of the previous research conducted in finance has studied these types of questions from a more general corporate perspective (size, profitability, etc.) and has often disregarded the individuals who lead the firms. An underlying reason is that data of decision-makers in firms has been difficult to get hold of. Sweden, and other Nordic countries, are unique internationally since they have detailed register data enabling studies also of those who make decisions in firms.

There are many questions we’d like to study further in the future, for instance if there is a link between the CEO’s gender and the firm’s sustainability work, or if the appointment of a CEO with leadership training leads to increased profitability for a firm. I hope to devote the upcoming years to fulfilling some of the ideas for articles that have come up during the work with the database,” says Oscar Stålnacke.

Contact information

Oscar Stålnacke
Associate professor
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