Friday Faculty Focus: Leif Lundmark


February 3rd, 2017

Dr. Leif Lundmark, Assistant Professor of Management in the College of Business Administration at UNO. (Photo by Brandon McDermott)

On this week’s Friday Faculty Focus, KVNO’s Brandon McDermott speaks to Dr. Leif Lundmark, Assistant Professor in the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Brandon: Dr. Leif Lundmark, thanks for joining me today.

Dr. Lundmark: It’s my pleasure.

Brandon: The Koraleski CAB Lab is a state of the art research facility here at UNO. Talk about what this lab is and how it benefits UNO students.

Dr. Lundmark: That’s an excellent question. The Koraleski CAB Lab is truly unique in what it is. Other research institutions typically specialize in perhaps one or two pieces of technology. Given the generosity of the Korleskis, we were able to develop a lab that really combines the expertise of four or five scholars and the accompanying technology.

So we have EEG, galvanic skin response, eye-tracking, facial recognition cameras – we can combine all of this to provide some pretty valuable and interesting insights into a whole myriad of research questions. Specifically to answer your question, this provides a unique – a truly unique opportunity – for students because they can get involved. So, a graduate student can get involved in designing research, undergraduates are involved in participating in the research and it’s really this beneficial collaborative environment that results

Brandon: Can you kind of give our listeners an idea of your entrepreneurial expertise or your experience?

Dr. Lundmark: I’m a tinkerer by trade and so as a kid, at the earliest age I can remember taking apart stereo equipment and wanting to build bigger and better stereo and stereo components. The problem that I ran into is as I got older; I had a desire to have nicer and nicer equipment. The problem is that the money wasn’t there. So that resulted in studying and reading books. I developed a passion for physics, wave mechanics and signal processing.

I subsequently used a little bit of this in my research around EEG.  But what we did is we started a company, it was Lisna Audio, and we designed high-end, two-channel loudspeakers. There are not too many shops like that around anymore. I think there’s one or two here in Omaha, but it was a great time. I use that experience -the things that I did well, I use that daily in my class and the things I didn’t do so well. I take that experience into the classroom.

Brandon: Business Administration includes a wide sphere, as far as the discipline goes, what interests you the most within business administration?

Dr. Lundmark: As a Ph.D. student, I began focusing in strategic management which is my more macro perspective. So, we look at the company as a whole, we look at the resources and the capabilities of the company controls and we try to develop some theories and predictions around which company is likely to win. As I was in this process, in my Ph.D. training, I quickly realized that maybe it was my tendency to think a little bit more broadly – what about the individuals in the decision making in the cognition around when the CEO or the top management team has to commit a company to a particular direction?

What does that involve? I want to understand what’s underneath that. Essentially open up that black-box -what levers can we pull to make that process little bit better? Business administration is an enormous topic, for me personally, I conceptualize it as the psychology around administering the company?

Brandon: Your experience also includes strategic management, which you alluded to, how do you use your knowledge here in the courses you teach?

Dr. Lundmark: I’ll provide you with an example. In my company, one of the things that I didn’t get quite right in initially, was a decision whether we should produce a particular part of our speaker in-house – do it ourselves – whether we should make it or if we should hire somebody to make that for us. So, this is a really traditional question within strategic-management and specifically vertical integration, it’s known as the “make or buy decision.”

It was interesting because at the time, I had secured this some venture capitalists and there were some investors that were involved. The decision that we had to make was whether we should manufacture the boxes, the speaker, the actual cabinets ourselves, or if we should hire somebody to do that. Strategic management has a robust set of theories to help us understand whether this is right or wrong. At the time I was I was my only training was my undergraduate training and I didn’t quite understand the nuances of the argument.

I bring that example into the classroom all the time, we ended up actually occurring all the fixed costs and expenses of manufacturing the speaker boxes ourselves when it really wasn’t the value proposition of our company. So that’s just one example. Another example off the top of my head that I wish I would have known a little bit more prior to starting the company was just the idea of strategic positioning. As an undergraduate student, I thought well “I’m starting this speaker company, let’s look at the existing market space, let’s identify an exemplar company and let’s try to be that company.” That’s really antithetical to a strategic management is about – it’s identifying what your unique advantage is and carving out a unique position. That cost us some money and some time that I wish I would have known beforehand.

Brandon: Just a bounce back question – working within the College of Business Administration with either undergrad or graduate students. Does it excite you, some of the creativity they bring to the table or some of the ideas that they may have?

Dr. Lundmark: Absolutely. I think that occasionally business students have a reputation of being perhaps less creative and I think maybe we don’t, as educators and as professors, provide them with as much opportunity to demonstrate that creativity. I think that it’s there, perhaps it’s latent, and that might be a reflective of our instruction.

I do quite a few activities in class, where I give students the opportunity to be creative. One related to my dissertation research, centers around just how the individual is formulating the problem, how are they conceptualizing the problem? If you push students a little bit and engage in some creativity exercises that we were just borrowing from the Industrial Organizational Psychologists around creativity and ideation – business students excel.

Brandon: Dr. Leif Lundmark, thanks again for coming on the show.

Dr. Lundmark: My pleasure, thank you.

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