2020 Winner of the EMERALD/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Award

Dear Colleagues

Today I am tremendously proud of my former PhD student Stephen Zamore who I supervised together with Professor Leif Atle Beisland.
He is the 2020 winner of the EMERALD/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Award in the field of Finance https://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/about/our-awards/outstanding-doctoral-research-awards-odra/emeraldefmd-outstanding-doctoral?utm_source=smc_email_awards&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ace_2020%20EFMD%20ODRA_20200921#f

I am not surprised. Stephen is one of my best PhD students ever. At the moment he is a Postdoc here at Agder, but he will soon be looking for a new job.
If you are hiring this is a unique opportunity. Check out Stephen’s profile here: https://www.uia.no/en/kk/profil/stephenz

You should also read our joint paper published in Journal of Banking and Finance on Geographical diversification and credit risk: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336539379_Geographic_diversification_and_credit_risk_in_microfinance

If you want more information about Stephen and his talent don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

Best wishes,
Roy Mersland
Professor/Director PhD program
Director Center for Research on Social Enterprises and Microfinance (CERSEM)
School of Business and Law
University of Agder
https://cersem.uia.no/
 

Call for PhD Applications

Dear Colleagues,

Do you know of anyone interested in getting a PhD while researching Savings Groups? We are searching for two highly motivated and talented candidates for PhD studies.

Please share widely the call below.

CALL FOR PhD APPLICATIONS

Are  you interested in doing a PhD on Savings Groups? Savings groups are bottom of the pyramid banking systems that allow members access to basic savings and credit services by conducting financial transactions among themselves. Around 20 persons are organized into a group where they mobilize their own regular savings and distribute these as loans to selected members as decided by the group. Several of the major international NGOs are active in mobilizing savings groups as they have proven to be efficient systems for simple banking services while at the same time they serve as generators of social capital for the members. Typically groups are trained, supervised and monitored for around one year and thereafter the groups are graduated and left alone.

Research on savings groups is still in its infancy. Particularly two areas need more research: 1) What happens with savings groups after they graduate and are left on their own? And 2) What is the situation for disabled persons participating in savings groups? We now search for two PhD candidates to cover these two areas.

Option 1: What happens with savings groups after they graduate? Do they survive? Do they expand? Do they change their membership and/or their savings and borrowing conditions? Do they initiate other operations? Do they become civil society organizations? To answer these and many similar questions we are partnering with the Norwegian international NGO Strømme Foundation who will sponsor the study together with the University of Agder. With the help of our local partners in West Africa, we will track graduated groups and find out whether they are still operating, how they are performing and what activities they are currently doing. We will also have the chance to compare performance data from the initial year with current data. Further details need to be worked out. Thus, your initial task is to develop a research proposal within this framework. Considering existing literature on savings groups we would like you to answer the following questions (plus other you find relevant) in your proposal: “What type of research questions could be interesting” and “what type of data do you suggest that we collect”? “How will you position the research in the literature” and “what type of research methodology do you consider should be applied”? These are questions we want you to address in the research proposal, which is a mandatory part of the application documents (see below).  Since the research will take place in West Africa fluency in French is required.

Option 2: Disabled persons typically struggle in being integrated in social networks, including savings groups. For several years the National Union of Disabled Persons in Uganda (NUDIPU) in partnership with the Norwegian Association of the Disabled (NAD) have managed a successful project called iSAVE. In this project disabled persons are mobilized in savings groups. Today, iSAVE has around 50 thousand members whereof 30 thousand are disabled. The model is that savings groups are mobilized, trained and supervised for around one year. Thereafter the groups are graduated and left alone, though they are still part of the “NUDIPU umbrella”. The aim of this research project is to learn more about the effectiveness of iSAVE; whether members find participating in the groups useful; whether the group members experience improvement of life quality; and whether the iSAVE model is well designed. Further details need to be made out. Thus, your initial task is to make up a research proposal within this framework. Considering existing literature on savings groups: “What kind of research questions could be interesting” and “what kind of data do you suggest that we collect”? “How will you position the research in the literature” and “what kind of research methodology do you consider should be applied”? These are questions we want you to address in the research proposal, which is a mandatory part of application documents (see below). The research will take place in Uganda and will be carried out in partnership with NUDIPU and NAD who is sponsoring the project together with the University of Agder.

If you need to know more about savings groups, you can start by reading this report: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333238735_Global_Indicators_of_Savings_Groups

To carry out the research, we are searching for two highly motivated and talented persons interested in doing a PhD in Norway. All university costs will be waived and each candidate will receive a scholarship of around EURO 1000,- per month to cover living costs. To qualify for this PhD opportunity you need to have a master’s degree (5 years of university (300 ECTS), including a master thesis) in a business school field. Preferably the education should be from an internationally recognized university. Further, you need to be fluent in English (plus French for option 1) and have advanced knowledge in Econometrics.

If you possess these qualifications we would very much like to receive you application.

The application should be e-mailed to roy.mersland@uia.no and should contain the following:

  • Educational certificates with grades and transcripts
  • summary of the master’s thesis (max one page)
  • minimum two letters with academic references
  • complete list of scientific publications (if you have published in peer-reviewed journals already)
  • up to three scientific publications in international peer-reviewed journals in full text (this is not a requirement but only if you have published some articles already)
  • other important documentation like results from tests like GMAT/GRE/TOEFL etc. (if you possess such already)
  • motivation/application letter including whether you prefer option 1 or option 2 (max one page)
  • Research proposal for the selected option with a maximum length of five pages, plus the reference list. The outline should present and discuss possible research questions, the relevance of the research, theory perspectives, positioning in the literature, data you suggest to be collected and relevant methods you suggest to apply. It is expected that the method suggested should, if possible, go beyond traditional simple surveys and be of a type that at least to some degree takes endogeneity into account.

The School of Business and Law at the University of Agder is a high-grade AACSB -accredited business school in Norway. Our PhD programme is one of Europe’s leading programmes in the field of International Business. We offer our candidates generous opportunities and equip them with a global mindset and modern research skills. Our graduates find prestigious jobs within and outside academia and they publish in high ranked international journals. The programme includes around 50 candidates from across the globe working closely with their highly motivated supervisors. The PhD process is designed to take three years. We have one of Europe’s best track records when it comes to finishing a PhD on time.

The selected candidates will become part of the CERSEM research team – https://cersem.uia.no/ – which is one of Europe’s leading research centers in the field of microfinance. In CERSEM you will be part of a team of around eight researchers actively involved in research on savings groups. In addition, the CERSEM team on savings groups works closely with a similar research group at KU Leuven University in Belgium where you will stay during part of your PhD process.

Your application should be sent by the 31st of March. Thereafter we will carry out a selection process. Start-up of the PhD is planned to be in September.

Best wishes,

Roy Mersland

Professor/Director PhD program

Director Center for Research on Social Enterprises and Microfinance (CERSEM)

School of Business and Law

University of Agder

Board Governance: Does Ownership Matter?

Dear Colleagues

Happy to announce our most recent article published in Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics.

Also happy to share that the article has been selected as the Editor’s choice article and made available as open access.

Hideto, M., Hudon, M., & Mersland, R. (Forthcoming), “Board Governance: Does Ownership Matter?”, Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics.

You can read the full article here: Editor’s Choice page

In the article we ask: Do for-profit and not-for-profit organizations organize their boards similarly or differently? Is there a “best practice” governance model across ownership types? Empirically speaking, these are tricky questions to study because generally for-profit and not-for-profit firms deliver different types of services in different types of markets. The microfinance industry is an exception. In this industry for-profit and not-for-profit actors operate side by side delivering banking services to low income families to finance their income generating activities. Using data from the microfinance industry we find that compared to for-profit actors the not-for-profit actors have larger boards, larger percentage of female directors and more frequent board meetings. we further find that the not-for-profit organizations enhance their performance when their boards are larger and meet more frequently. Equally interesting, while having a larger fraction of female directors is beneficial on average it significantly negatively affects the performance of not-for-profit microfinance organizations. Taken together, the findings in this paper send a strong message to observers, policy makers and not-for-profit organizations: Such organizations should not copy the board structure of regular firms but develop their own governance models fitting their needs in accordance with their ownership type.

I hope you enjoy reading the article.

Best wishes,

Roy Mersland

Professor/Director PhD program

Director Center for Research on Social Enterprises and Microfinance (CERSEM)

School of Business and Law

University of Agder

The EMP starts its 2020-2021 recruitment campaign!

Dear colleagues

Our friends at CERMi at Solvay in Brussels run an excellent master program in Microfinance. I am happy to teach a course at the program and recommend it warmly. See more information about the program below.

Please help sharing this opportunity with relevant candidates. Thanks a lot.

Best wishes,

Roy Mersland

Professor/Director PhD program

Director Center for Research on Social Enterprises and Microfinance (CERSEM)

School of Business and Law

University of Agder

Available PhD Positions

Dear Colleagues

Please help me to share these opportunities:

We are hiring PhDs. We are searching for strong candidates interested in:

  1. Internationalization & Microfinance (1 candidate)
  2. Savings groups (2 candidates)

The opportunity in Internationalization & Microfinance is tied to our general PhD program in International Business where we at the moment are searching for up to 5 candidates. More information is found here: https://www.jobbnorge.no/en/available-jobs/job/179776/phd-reserach-fellow-in-international-business

The two opportunities on Savings Groups are tied directly to CERSEM. For these we offer a full waiver of university fees plus a scholarship of around EURO 1000,- monthly to cover living costs. One position will focus on “Inclusion of disabled members in savings groups” while the other will focus on “survival of savings groups”. For this later position fluency in French is required. You can read more about our research on Savings Groups here https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333238735_Global_Indicators_of_Savings_Groups

For all positions fluency in English, strong academic qualifications and very strong knowledge in econometrics are required.

Interested candidates should get in touch directly with me.

Best wishes,

Roy Mersland

Professor/Director PhD program

Director Center for Research on Social Enterprises and Microfinance (CERSEM)

School of Business and Law

University of Agder

Is it wise, on average, for a microfinance bank to diversify geographically?

Check out our new paper accepted for publication in Journal of Banking and Finance https://lnkd.in/gsQS73B.

Since start-up in 1997 I have been involved in the microfinance bank BANCO D-MIRO in Ecuador. Many stakeholders have assessed our performance. Especially international lenders and rating agencies. What has always annoyed me is that they have repeatedly told us that we should diversify our geographical risk by entering more regions. I have fought against this recommendation because I think it requires more coordination resources to operate with larger geographical outspread. Moreover, I think geographical concentration gives us improved market knowledge. This background has motivated me to carry out this new research project together with my colleagues Stephen Zamore and Leif Atle Beisland. In the paper we are the first to study the link between geographic diversification and credit risk in microfinance. Who was right? I or the rating agencies? Check out the paper!

(P.S. since we use a large global dataset it could still be that the rating agencies are right in the case of Banco D-MIRO 😊)  

Best wishes,

Roy Mersland

Professor/Director PhD program

Director Center for Research on Social Enterprises and Microfinance (CERSEM)

School of Business and Law

University of Agder

International market selection by European and American impact investing organizations

Dear Colleagues

Into what type of developing countries do social enterprises expand when going international? Do they select markets where they have a better chance of achieving social returns or do they expand into countries offering better chances of financial returns?

In a new paper we examine how host countries’ macroeconomic conditions influence international market selection of European and American impact investing organizations.

  • Mersland, R., Nyarko, S., & Sirisena, A. (Forthcoming), “A Hybrid Approach to International Market Selection: The Case of Impact Investing Organizations”, International Business Review.

Download and read the full paper here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335818278_A_hybrid_approach_to_international_market_selection_The_case_of_impact_investing_organizations

Best wishes,

Roy Mersland

Professor/Director PhD program

Director Center for Research on Social Enterprises and Microfinance (CERSEM)

School of Business and Law

University of Agder , Norway

What are savings groups?

Dear Colleagues,

Do you know what savings groups are, how they are structured, how they perform and where they flourish? In fact, saving groups are one of the World’s largest banking systems. Here at CERSEM, we find savings groups fascinating and have therefore initiated a large new project where we will research what drives the performance of these groups. The project is sponsored by FAHU foundation and we have gotten access to the SAVIX database covering 250 thousand groups worldwide. Our first output is a descriptive report on the content in the SAVIX database. Read the report and learn about savings groups.

Check it out at:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333238735_Global_Indicators_of_Savings_Groups

Best wishes

Professor Roy Mersland

Director Center for Research on Social Enterprises and Microfinance – https://cersem.uia.no/news/

UiA School of Business and Law

University of Agder, Norway

Tel: +47 924 34 333

https://www.uia.no/en/kk/profile/roym

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Roy_Mersland

Our research catches attention.

Dear Colleagues,

Europe’s largest microfinance newsletter – The Microfinance Platform – has a long article reviewing our paper on Mission Statements in Microfinance. You can read the article here: https://lnkd.in/gHnBEiN
The full article can be requested here: https://lnkd.in/gRcK8n2

Best wishes,
Professor Roy Mersland

Director Center for Research on Social Enterprises and Microfinance – https://cersem.uia.no/news/

UiA School of Business and Law

University of Agder

https://www.uia.no/en/kk/profile/roym

DOES LANGUAGE USE AFFECT THE FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE OF MICROFINANCE BANKS?

Dear colleagues

In our most recent paper accepted for publication in Journal of World Business we study whether knowledge of a world language like English, Spanish and French have an influence on the performance of Microfinance Institutions (MFIs). And indeed it has. After controlling for country effects etc. we find that MFIs operating in English/Spanish/French-speaking countries have higher performance than MFIs operating in other markets. Moreover, we find that language also has an effect on partnerships between MFIs and international partners in Europe and North America. A closer language relationship between the international partner and the MFI has a positive effect on the MFI’s performance. We think our study is of relevance also outside the microfinance context. You can download and read the full study here: https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1Ypmi3u3RtdUg6    

Other CERSEM articles can be downloaded here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Roy_Mersland/publications

Best wishes

Professor Roy Mersland

Director Center for Research on Social Enterprises and Microfinance – https://cersem.uia.no/news/

UiA School of Business and Law

University of Agder, Norway

Tel: +47 924 34 333

https://www.uia.no/en/kk/profile/roym