Peter Baloh is a lecturer and a research fellow at Information Management department of Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, the only EQUIS accredited school in South-Eastern Europe. He is active in the areas of Information Systems, Management of Technology and Innovation, Project Management and Knowledge Management, which are considered through the lens of successful implementation in various organizational settings. He has authored over 40 articles, which were presented at international conferences or featured in journals such as MIT Sloan Management Review, IEEE Software, International Journal of Information Management, Research-Technology Management, Journal of Organizational and End User Computing, Knowledge and Process Management, Strategic Outsourcing, among others. In 2008, he held a visiting professor position at Kyungpook National University in South Korea, where he gave a full 45-hour course on Knowledge Management Systems. He gave invited talks at universities in Australia (RMIT and Victoria), Singapore (Natl Univ of Singapore) and UK (Univ of Salford). Moreover, he transfers that knowledge from business practice and back to it. He has fourteen books-professional monographs to his name, and has founded and managed a niche consulting venture ‘Catch the knowledge’, advising top Slovenian companies in the areas of his research interests. We caught him at one of his stops in US and interviewed him.
Name: Peter Baloh
Year of the PhD program: defended 3wks ago.
Explain your background which has led you to the PhD program. When I was seven years old, I got my first computer. I quite soon realized that computers are not fun just per se, but rather, something can be done with them, and that with that, one can realize other, non-computer related goals. I still see them as that – tools that can help achieving other (business related) goals. Maybe that is why I never strictly went for »one field«, but rather, my whole education is about combining IT (secondary school) and business (undergraduate degree). The »business side« of me always critically judges new technologies by »what business value can be generated and how«, while the »tech« side of me is the one that is fascinated by and wants to play with the »cool tekkie functionalities«. As far as the degree is concerned, I liked the idea of exploring that »hidden mystery« underlying everyday phenomena.
What research areas are you interested in? Information Systems, Management of Technology and Innovation, Project Management and Knowledge Management, which are considered through the lens of successful design and deployment in various organizational settings.
I can’t really pronounce your school’s name. What’s with all the L’s and J’s ?? Just replace the J with Y and read it out loud, there it is, Lyublyana, see, easy. It’s a great school, great geographical area, great reputation. We are one of the three schools in the central and south eastern european regions that have EQUIS accreditation (a mere 100 something business schools in the world have it). One of our main things is internationalization school – getting and sending as many academics and students IN and OUT… You know… requisite variety… ))
What do you like to do for fun? This is a good one. Basically everything I do in my life has the fun factor connected to it. I believe that this is what life should consist of and I believe that if you have fun while doing things, you can be good at what you are doing. This is my personal philosophy that I follow, thus, even whatever I do professionally, I try to have as much fun as possible. If you ask me what do I do when I take time off my work… I travel the world, usually together with my wife… I travel to see »beyond« the facades that media, taboos, or norms of this or other world created. I also try to hang around with my 10 month baby-son. He also travels with us, of course, but playing with him is way of exploring the universe as well. In a weekly routine, I also do fitness and sauna to relax from everyday stress.
Just curious – how often do you blog? I facebook daily and I update my ‘professional’ blog http://www.baloh.net whenever something worthwhile telling happens. That can be twice daily or once a month.
Mention some things that you have done that made your thesis writing easier. I tried to take as much break from work as possible, however paradoxical this sounds. I did things that are not connected to writing the dissertation. As once Peter Drucker said, when you are professionally involved in one particular area for a long time (and process of getting the PhD is a very long and very narrow project, with very small number of tangible milestones on the way), you better get a serious hobby or two. I found that working continuously on just the thesis, I got oversaturated by it, and my conscious mind didn’t want to cooperate anymore. I left it for a day, week, even a month, and then I made a huge progress in just a day or two. Another thing that was really worthwhile was talking to as much varied bunch of people as possible. I talked about my topic with senior and junior academics, I talked about my topic with students who attended my classes and I talked about it with senior executives. I talked about it with my friends. Now don’t get me wrong, this was not the only thing I talked about in the last 4 years. I just grabbed every opportunity that I could talk about it with someone who was interested. Why I think this was important? It forced me to conceptualize what I was researching in many levels and from many different angles, and in my opinion, externalizing something that you deep down understand, is the key to really »understanding what you know«.
What do you do to make your PhD career successful? Talking. Visited as many doctoral consortiums as possible – ECIS, AOM-OCIS, IFIP, and talked about my research to my colleagues, senior researchers, and people from the industry at any occasion possible. I am glad that my institution is not one of those that see PhD as the ‘entry step’ to start writing books, papers, or attending conferences. PhD student needs to get connected and he/she needs to get in situ training in revision and conference process. These are all major parts of academic lives, so why not? I understand the budgeting issues; however, I believe conference organizers could do much more to lower the cost of attendance. But this is entirely different issue, so let’s stay on the positive side of my answer and of this interview.
Closing thoughts? Don’t let your work overrun your personal life. There is that other side of life – believe in it and it does happen.