Professor of Human Resource Management Anna-Maija Lämsä, Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics (JSBE), is a pioneer of research on ethics and responsibility issues in management and leadership. Although retiring soon, she is not going to stop her research work and writing.

The year 2021 was the last whole one for Anna-Maija Lämsä at her day job at JSBE and as its Vice Dean responsible for education. The year cannot be summed up without mentioning the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Lämsä thanks the whole staff for arranging teaching in the best possible way in the exceptional setting.

”After the digital leap overnight when the pandemic started, we now have the technical user skills for remote connections and ’gadgets’. The next step should be taken in the development of digital pedagogy.”

As another important achievement, Lämsä finds the long-term and successful work of the Education Development Group.

”For example, the promotion of continuous learning in close collaboration with the Open University is worth mentioning. The JSBE degree students coming through the Open University channel have performed very well in their studies.”

As another important point, Lämsä mentions the personal recognition she received: Työelämän tutkimusyhdistys (Working Life Research Association) granted her at the end of the year the national Hyvä työ! award (Good Work! Award), which was particularly heart-warming to this professor awarded several times over the years.

Research was appealing

Anna-Maija Lämsä, who will soon become a Professor emerita, was already an experienced professional when she got a job at the University of Jyväskylä. Before that, she had made a career as a teacher and a consultant and had a big role in introducing the polytechnic sector in Finland.

On pension Anna-Maija Lämsä is going to continue publishing.

She came to Jyväskylä in the 1990s in the years of the worst economic recession and highest unemployment rates. Upon a hint from an acquaintance, Lämsä applied for a Senior Assistant’s substitute vacancy at the University. She faxed her application an hour before the deadline, and heard nothing about it until a couple of months later. Eventually, she got the job and after that she has had a number of employment contracts with various job titles.

At the University, Anna-Maija Lämsä felt like being in the right place for her. After a long pause, she was also engaged in the world of research.

”For me, writing is a natural thing and I love it – you could say I think by writing.”

“I was extremely happy when I got the chance to make first the Licentiate thesis and then articles and my doctoral dissertation. Research was truly appealing, and my own strengths came up best at the University. We have here appropriate freedom, but also a safe framework.”

Themes standing the test of time and new initiatives

Anna-Maija Lämsä could have ended up to researching  entrepreneurship as well, but she chose instead leadership and – in those days still a rare theme – ethics for the topic of her dissertation.

”My research topics have always been based on my own interest and belief in the importance of the theme. Still at the beginning of my career, responsibility and ethicalness were not regarded to belong to leadership and management or business, but in this respect the world has fortunately changed.”

More lately, such themes as responsible management, women’s opportunities in leadership and management, and ethical management have proven to stand the test of time. A year after another, these themes receive media interest as well, and therefore Lämsä answers regularly to interview and comment requests.

But there are new perspectives as well.

”At present, I am interested in how different issues pertaining to leadership and personnel are interpreted in different cultural contexts. Many theories come from Anglo-Saxon countries, but in a different context they may appear quite different. There are plenty of topical questions in this regard, which are related to the international character and ethnic diversity at the workplace.”

In Lämsä’s case, the days ahead on pension do not mean, by any means, an instantly empty daily agenda – on the contrary.

”I will take a couple of dissertation supervisions till the end, so that I will have a full twenty of them. I am going to continue publishing, and I have already one topic for a textbook in mind”, Lämsä tells.

“I shall also continue the volunteer work I have been doing with asylum-seekers. In addition, I have been asked to join women’s networks, and an international university visit is also an option. Indeed, my calendar will not be empty, but now I can choose more freely with what I shall fill it!”



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