Fairness, honesty and objectivity untainted by cronyism are important elements of a modern and motivating science culture. In the 2013 worldwide corruption index, as in the years before, New Zealand ranked first as the world’s country with the highest level of fairness. But New Zealand is not only a fair country of celebrated scenic beauty beckoning outdoor enthusiasts. The country also offers a fertile ground for international scientific endeavours. A look at Web of Science and ScienceWatch rankings shows that the author of the most frequently quoted article in BWL and VWL in the years 1995–2005, Dynamic Capabilities and Strategic Management**, is a New Zealander.
About ten years ago I was lucky enough to get this successful scientist, Professor David J. Teece, who is even more successful as an entrepreneur and founder of the Berkeley Research Group, as one of my thesis supervisors and as a mentor. A few years ago I went to New Zealand with my husband to attend the professor’s one-week long 60th birthday celebrations for 150 international guests that included activities such as skydiving, a helicopter flight through the Lord of the Rings-Park, a steamboat ride in Queenstown, organised charter flights with city trips and more. It was then that I knew: I have to come back to this beautiful country for an extended stay.
The country and the people
New Zealand consists of a North and a South Island, as well as more than 700 smaller islands. The country attracts more Austrians than one might think. Karl Popper lived there for eight years, and Friedensreich Hundertwasser spent the last years of his life at the Northland outdoor paradise. In 1973, this northern part of the country inspired Gerwalt Pichler from Graz to found the outdoor apparel company Northland. I was particularly impressed by the capital city of Wellington, which is often compared to San Francisco in terms of its scenic beauty and cultural activities.
With its triple-crown accreditation of AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA, the Victoria University of Wellington is a premium research facility. I was able to witness the quality criteria and documentation steps for excellent research and teaching within the context of the university’s AACSB accreditation and my own teaching activities.
Research and teaching in New Zealand
Compared to Austria, it is very easy to find a tenured job in New Zealand, where temporary work contracts are made permanent after one year in most cases. Within the context of our research project I took along two Dutch Masters students to New Zealand, and one of them immediately landed a job as a lecturer. Universities receive most of their applications from Asians and Americans – but as I have learned they would like to receive more from Europe and Canada.
Serenity and understatement as a lifestyle
It certainly helps if one is able to cope with understatement, in other words if one is not hung up on status symbols or social rank, if one is relaxed and puts the common weal first instead of focusing on getting enough media attention for one’s own qualifications and rankings. Success is usually not achieved off one’s own bat, and in New Zealand it is recommended to take a relaxed and down-to-earth approach in this respect.
Plans for the future – children, cooking, conferences
I have to admit that running away is easier for me than returning. Within the context of the FWF return-phase funding, I chose the University of Innsbruck, since I have always wanted to live in a place where either mountains or water were very close by. I am looking forward to the next phase in my life, which I hope will soon include several children. My new department head considers me capable of reconciling having children and doing research – a vote of confidence I highly appreciate.
* Motto of the Victoria University of Wellington: “Wisdom is more to be desired than gold”
** “June 2014: cited on google.scholar 18.666 times compared with Einstein’s most cited article 12.428”
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