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Behavioural economist appointed as DCC Chair of Entrepreneurship

Thursday 12 September 2019 9:56am

The University of Otago has appointed behavioural economist Associate Professor Nathan Berg as its Dunedin City Council Chair of Entrepreneurship.

The professorial Chair was made possible by a $1m endowment to the University of Otago by the Dunedin City Council. As part of the University's Leading Thinkers Initiative, the DCC gift attracted matching funding from the Government under the Partnerships for Excellence scheme.

Nathan Berg image
Associate Professor Nathan Berg

Associate Professor Berg was selected for the position from an international pool of candidates and will take up the role, and the new title of Professor, on 1 October.

Associate Professor Berg joined Otago's Department of Economics in June 2012. His research in the fields of behavioural economics, financial economics, and entrepreneurial behaviour has helped cities attract new businesses and helped businesses make key decisions by utilising their own data to guide innovation, expand their markets and create jobs.

His research has been cited in Financial Times, Business Week, Canada’s National Post, The Village Voice, The Advocate, Science News, Slate and the Atlantic Monthly, as well as leading academic journals.

Announcing the appointment, Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says Associate Professor Berg’s record of research and commitment to behavioural economics makes him an exemplary choice to enhance the University's entrepreneurial education and training, and assist with the city’s overall economic growth.

Associate Professor Berg was a Fulbright Scholar in 2003 and visiting research scientist at the Max Planck Institute, in Berlin in the 2000s. He was a visiting foreign scholar at the University of Osaka in 2008 and 2009, and University of Tokyo in 2016 and 2018. He was awarded a PhD (with honours) in economics and a Master of Arts (with honours) in mathematics from the University of Kansas in 2001.

He says he is a “champion for the broad range of creative endeavours that add value to life”.

“Business education and research can and should be used to achieve more of the many different outcomes … that make Dunedin a great place to live.

“I encourage everyone to adopt a broad view of what entrepreneurship means. Its meaning should include informal entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship in the non-profit sector, small business, large organisations, and the disruptive innovation that transforms artistic, scientific and technological breakthroughs into new services that add to our quality of life,” he says.

One of his main focuses will be to analyse and expand Dunedin's “conditions of possibility” that lead to more business start-ups and “more broadly distributed social benefits” throughout the entire community.

“In line with the DCC’s goals of increasing jobs and incomes, there should be measurable improvements in things we can count, like the number of start-ups in Dunedin, the number of young people able to pursue professional careers in Dunedin, and the number of our local and regional products reaching overseas markets. Social entrepreneurs can be equally ambitious and innovative in improving social outcomes in measurable ways,” Associate Professor Berg says.

“We're incredibly fortunate to have lots of people already producing impressive results in Dunedin's start-up community. The pressing issue, as I see it, is to enable more to join. The research literature provides overwhelming evidence that entrepreneurship, start-up communities, and the commercial and social ecosystems that form around them are not zero-sum games.

“Thus, an important part of this role is to join forces with the many talented people already focused on how to encourage innovation and build vibrant sustainable start-up communities, and find ways to leverage their strengths so that each input expands capacity and amplifies impact of the others,” Professor Berg says.

Otago Business School Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Robin Gauld welcomed Associate Professor Berg to the position.

“I'm delighted we have someone of Associate Professor Berg’s calibre for this key academic position in Otago Business School. He brings not only a range of skills and international experience, but a passion for Dunedin and for entrepreneurship.

“In many ways, this position is also key to building entrepreneurship across the University of Otago and is relevant to multiple academic programmes. A goal of the DCC Chair is to help build a research profile across all academic divisions in relation to entrepreneurship and innovation and, of course, to work with the wider business community and Dunedin City Council.”

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says the Dunedin City Council is proud to be part of the programme.

“Dunedin is known for its extremely strong innovation and knowledge base, and this programme is hugely important when it comes to assisting in and further developing the city's overall economic growth.

“I congratulate Associate Professor Berg on been selected for this prestigious role. I know he has some exciting and ambitious plans for our city, and I look forward to seeing his ideas come to fruition.”

For more information, please contact:

Lea Jones
Communications Advisor,
Otago Business School
Tel +64 3 479 4969
Email lea.jones@otago.ac.nz