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  • Writer's pictureRiya Wadhwani

Un-Apologetically Human

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

Written by Riya Wadhwani, Ph.D. Student at Indian Institute of Management Udaipur, India

Learning "On-field" with Prof. Arnould

Synergizing Roles as an Academician

“It is impractical to expect oneself to consistently strike a perfect balance in every aspect of a career. Compromises are inevitable; one cannot adhere to the neoliberal notion of "having it all" without risking one's sanity. I am skeptical of the romanticized ideal of balance and find it worth questioning.”

-Prof. Eric Arnould

In the landscape flooded with self-help books advocating for the pursuit of balance in life, Prof. Eric Arnould offers a distinct perspective, considering balance as a mythical and fictional concept. This personal philosophy shapes how he approaches his role as a researcher, mentor, reviewer, AE, and consultant.

Instead of approaching professional responsibilities with a balanced mindset, Prof. Arnould embraces a synergy-driven approach. Imagine a tightrope walker meticulously measuring each step, where one wrong move could be life-threatening. Now, picture a child joyfully playing with building blocks, exploring creativity with every interaction between blocks. Prof. Arnould sees his roles as a teacher, researcher, and consultant like those building blocks, allowing for innovation, flexibility, and fun with each interaction that can be brought into the classroom. The classroom, in turn, teaches patience and pedagogical skills, which are useful tools in consulting. It enhances our ability to explain complex ideas simply, especially when working in diverse teams or talking to managers and policymakers. As these roles interconnect, the synergies between teaching, researching, and consulting contribute to the dynamic creation of an entire construct as an academician.

In this manner, embracing the chaos by finding alignment in diverse roles as a teacher, researcher, and consultant enriches his academic journey, making it interesting, insightful, and transformative.

The Art of Off-balance with Prof. Arnould

"Another thing that contributes towards my growth as an academician is reviewing and editing."

-Prof. Eric Arnould

Prof. Arnould believes that reviewing and editing expose individuals to various fields and literature. He sees these activities as conversational practices, providing a distinctive opportunity to contribute to advancing the research field. As an editor, he feels himself empowered to influence the field. Referring to David Murray’s “What’s Interesting,” Prof. Arnould looks for interestingness, methodological soundness, and coherence in any research work he edits, reviews, discusses, and teaches.

“If you're an associate editor or an editor,  you have some ability to kind of steer the field a bit. I mean, it's a big ship, so it's not all that easy to make massive changes.  But you can help it along, that's for sure. To ensure that, I prioritize three things as a reviewer and editor: interestingness, methodological soundness specifically focusing on paradigmatic rules, and coherence ensuring a well-crafted and well-woven story.”

- Prof. Eric Arnould

Balancing MYself along with WORKself

“I am always trying to change the world for the better, or at least to do less harm than good.”

-Prof. Eric Arnould

At home, in a classroom, on the field, or for a consulting project, Prof. Arnould’s approach is to read the room, see what is not working, and how he can make it better. He views this personal endeavor to make and deliver better as a lifestyle approach that keeps him intrinsically motivated, which served him well over a long academic career.

“If I was just motivated by, oh, can I get tenure? Oh, can I get a fancy job? Oh, can I get more money? I think at some point, or at various points, I wouldn't have been interested in continuing. But that's not what motivates me. Never has.”

-Prof. Eric Arnould

Raw and Real with Prof. Arnould

Prof. Arnould's journey is about embracing life's off-beat notes. As an 18-year-old undergraduate, the opportunity to spend an entire semester in West Africa ignited a curiosity about cultural and human diversity, shaping his desire to become a social scientist. These moments resemble a harmonious collaboration, where individual tones and pitches blend into a beautiful melody, resonating with his life and approach as an academician. This synergy contrasts with the measured, tested, and controlled approach, emphasizing that true essence can be lost in the pursuit of balance.


Meet Prof. Eric Arnould

Senior Fellow at the Aalto University School of Business

What are your preferred leisure activities that you enjoy both in your daily free time and occasionally during vacations?

I like to play music with a garage band, an amateur band with my colleagues in Denmark. My family has a country house here in Finland, so I like to spend time at the country house in the spring, summer, and fall, work in the garden, go to the lake, and things like that. I like to do some traveling and particularly I'm interested in sort of cultural heritage and art and things like that. So, I spend some time doing that in my spare time.

A ritual/practice/exercise you can’t miss or start your day without

Well, these days, I like to have breakfast with my wife, and we listen to Swedish news broadcasts on Finnish-Swedish-speaking television channels and look at Swedish newspapers. I am trying desperately to improve my Swedish language skills.

What would you be if not an academic?

If I weren't an academic, I would probably be working in an international organization, like some part of the UN family. When I was doing consulting work and international development work in Africa back in the 70s, 80s and 90s, I often worked with people from those organizations or was contracted to such organizations. And there was a point many years ago when I could have taken a fork in the road and pursued that career like some of my colleagues did.


This article was written by

Riya Wadhwani

Ph.D. student at the Indian Institute of Management, Udaipur (Rajasthan, India)

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