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Visiting Finnish Scholar Discusses Research and Darden’s Appeal

By Kate Beach-

By Jessica Hirsch

Entrepreneurship researcher and grounded theorist Markko Hamalainen is working on his post-doctoral research at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

marrko2Hamalainen was drawn to Darden by Professor Saras D. Sarasvathy, Isidore Horween Research Professor of Business Administration, whom he referenced often in his prior research.

“I wanted to connect with Professor Sarasvathy about her research on effectuation,” Hamalainen said. “Darden has a very inspiring atmosphere with many well-established scholars such as Professor Sarasvathy and Professor Freeman. There are so many interesting people in the other departments of UVA as well.”

Hamalainen received two years of research funding from his native country, Finland, and does not have restrictions or terms of acceptance, such as residency requirements or teaching obligations. However, Hamalainen is organizing a seminar on grounded theory methodology with two colleagues from other universities, which will include an open lecture and workshop taking place at Darden in February. Grounded theory methodology focuses on the process of creating new theories based on observations. Hamalainen studied this method directly from its co-originator Dr. Barney Glaser.

“For me, grounded theory methodology is a natural way of doing research,” Hamalainen said. “With my own entrepreneurial background, I had a starting point to observe the phenomenon of how entrepreneurs progress. I investigate the psychological factors that motivate entrepreneurs and give them the drive to start a new business or venture.”

His dissertation explored the concept of entrepreneurial recycling, the process by which entrepreneurs sequentially start projects in different areas of life and use the experiences and information from their earlier endeavors as stepping stones.

“I also call this Renaissance entrepreneurship,” Hamalainen said. “This is because entrepreneurs with passions in multiple fields are able to combine their interests in their work, similar to how Leonardo da Vinci was able to combine his passions in art and science.”

Hamalainen has personal experience with entrepreneurship. He sells Finnish sauna equipment to other countries around the world, such as Japan.

Upon moving to Charlottesville, Hamalainen has been able to take advantage of many of the opportunities and benefits of the area, including hiking in the Shenandoah National Park and practicing meditation in Darden’s interfaith space.

“I really enjoy Darden’s warm community in which students and faculty relate to each other,” Hamalainen said. “I also love the nature. When I came here, I rented a car and drove from New York to Charlottesville. When I entered Virginia, I started to feel that this is a place I could really live.”

As part of another of Hamalainen’s diverse interests, he would like to start a band with other Darden community members. The purpose of the group would be to meet regularly to learn and practice a variety of instruments, which would not only be fun, but also a way to tinker with one’s identity.

“One of the major obstacles that is preventing people from becoming entrepreneurs is that they don’t perceive themselves as such,” Hamalainen said. “I think that the same is true for playing music.”

If interested in this opportunity, email Hamalainen at or visit his webpage to explore his research further.