Nicholas Berente, an assistant professor in the Terry College of Business, keeps his students at the forefront of digital innovation and entrepreneurship.
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I earned my bachelor’s degree in finance from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, and earned my MBA and my Ph.D. in management information systems from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. I am currently an assistant professor of management information systems (MIS) in the Terry College of Business
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
We have one of the best information systems departments in the world, and I was absolutely thrilled to get an offer to work here. Plus there was a foot of snow on the ground in Cleveland when I got my interview, and my wife told me “Don’t mess up the Georgia job talk!”
What are your favorite courses and why?
I like teaching anything about innovation, and digital technologies are at the core of any contemporary innovation in some way or another. We have a new course for undergraduates called “Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” which is a hands-on course where we also think deeply about innovation.
What interests you about your field?
Digital technologies are at the core of all human activity—including how organizations and societies do anything. The information systems field lies at the intersection of digital technologies and how humans and organizations change. We are in the “digital age,” and my field is specifically focused on studying the most relevant issues of our time.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
One big highlight is that I was asked to serve on the XSEDE advisory board. XSEDE is the National Science Foundation’s flagship cyberinfrastructure project and doing really cool stuff by digitally enabling “big science.” Other highlights include a number of awards, including UGA’s Michael F. Adams scholarship award and a UGA teaching award.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
They completely inform each other. My professional experience and my research focus on digital innovation, and I think that improves my work in the classroom because I’m working from real-world experience and the current thinking on the topic. Also, preparation and class discussions also enhance my thinking and give me ideas for research.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
More than anything I want students to be enthusiastic and empowered. Enthusiastic because of the incredible era that they are born into and empowered to explore, learn and take advantage of the abundant opportunities the world has to offer.
Describe your ideal student.
The ideal student is someone curious and engaged. This student does not wait to be told what to do, but instead proactively embraces life, inevitably runs into challenges, and then finds ways to overcome those challenges.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
Wander around campus with my family, ringing the Chapel Bell, and watching the kids climb the magnolias (and occasionally joining them).
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
Exercise, go on family hikes and road trips, and occasionally build stuff with wood.
Community/civic involvement includes….
I help the Prayers from Maria Foundation with its grant process—they are a great organization looking to cure a form of childhood brain cancers known as a glioma.
I also am an associate editor for the journals Information Systems Research and Information and Organization.
Favorite book/movie (and why)?
Picking a favorite book is impossible. Two books I like to recommend to students are Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” and Christensen’s “Innovator’s Dilemma.” Hayek for thinking about civil society, Christensen for organizational innovation. Whether you end up agreeing with him or not, it is absolutely essential that every civically minded person understand Hayek’s views on individual liberty and the rule of law. Christensen paints a clear picture of the process of disruptive innovation, which is an absolute starting point for anyone trying to understand how the world works in the digital age.
Proudest moment at UGA?
When I get to walk visitors across the beautiful North Campus on a sunny day.
(Originally published Jan. 31, 2016)