Hi there Daniel Ekwall, what is your background before you chose the academic track?
After obtaining my engineering degree I worked within the manufacturing industry three and a half years. I worked with production preparation at Volvo Buses, the best first job you could have. Afterwards I spent almost two years as a consultant at Rejlers Ingenjörer, focusing mainly on construction and calculation. However, I have always found teaching to be very instructive, which is why I headed back as a lecturer at University of Borås.
You are still working as a lecturer at the University of Borås, which areas are your teaching and research focusing on?
I am responsible for the master programme Industrial Engineering – Logistics management where I teach two courses. One of them is about the link between world trade and logistics and the other one deal with risk management. The research is primarily focused on transport safety but I have also spent time researching on textiles and fashion.
Your doctoral studies were carried out both at Chalmers and the University of Borås and now you are back at Chalmers as a guest researcher at the department of Technology Management and Economics. Why is that?
Personally I think that Chalmers’ investment in the areas of advance is very exciting and I would like to find out how I can contribute to it. Most problems need to be addressed from many different points of view and the areas of advance facilitate that.
What are you going to do here at Chalmers and who will you be cooperating with?
Firstly, I will work with Dan Andersson, director of the center Northern LEAD, but I will also collaborate with all the other researchers at the department of Logistics and Transport. I will mainly focus on two problems – innovation and risk/safety within the transport sector.
Previously you have been working at DB Schenker, are you still in touch with the industry?
I have many connections to the industry, even though I am not currently employed there. The time I spent at DB Schenker was very instructive and interesting in many ways. Sometimes I miss the pulse but working as head of security for the entire DB Schenker group provided a very good understanding for the transport sector in general as well as for specific risk and safety work. The important thing is to try to connect theory (academy) with practice (industry) in the simplest possible way, which is more difficult than it may seem.
What is the most significant difference between working within the industry and the academic world?
The time aspect and the focus are the main differences. The industry provides faster solutions which are not necessarily best possible practice, while the academy search for the best possible solution with less interest in time spent. Circumstances often determinates which way is the optimum.
Your doctoral research focused on protection against theft and sabotage within the transport industry. What were your conclusions?
That the problem exists and that it will probably continue to exist. However, in its current shape all the players has learned how to act (and share costs) in an effective way. This way is not the best possible way but it works. Furthermore I introduced various theories from criminology within logistic research.
In the beginning of the year your doctoral thesis from 2009 was also awarded "Highly Commended Award of the 2011 Emerald/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Awards in the Logistics and Supply Chain Management category". Congratulations!
Thank you! I consider this another indication that I am on the right track in terms of theory but also that the scientific craft is sustainable enough to be reviewed. A large part of these awards should also accrue to the supervisors from my time as a doctoral student, Professor Kenth Lumsden and Professor Håkan Thorstensson, since research is always a team effort even though not all the members are named in the publications.
During 2008 you received the Nofoma (The Nordic Logistics Research Network) award for best paper written by a doctoral student. What did the award mean to you?
Considering that my research has a clear interdisciplinary character it is a little bit trickier to get published and thus get a receipt that the studies and the development of the theory are moving in the right direction. The award at Nofoma became a large breaking point because it so clearly pointed out I was on the right track.
Why do you think your particular paper won the award?
I believe that the paper had the right mix of a theoretical background and an empirical part that “proved” the limitation of a famous criminological theory within transport safety. Or perhaps I was just lucky. I know there were many good papers for the jury to choose from that year.
What happens in the nearest future?
The calendar is filled with fun assignments. I just have to start crossing them off my list and within that process find new question formulations to work on.