Florian Becker-Ritterspach has held a professorship in Economic and Organisational Sociology since 2014. He was previously a professor at the German University in Cairo (GUC). Becker-Ritterspach researches how social institutions, e.g. norms, values or formal institutions, shape economic activities.
What exactly do you have to do with gazelles?
With regard to the gazelles that populate the savannahs of Africa, relatively little. In economic research, the term "gazelle" refers to particularly fast growing companies. In the research project "Gazelles within an Industry Cluster (GimIC)" we are investigating why start-ups in Berlin grow significantly more slowly than in other regions of Germany.
What are the challenges facing young companies in Berlin?
We’re only at the beginning of our project. Existing research has already identified a number of Berlin-specific challenges, including the development of high-quality commercial and industrial sites, the expansion of a service-oriented administration, the recruitment of highly qualified employees and better networking of research institutions and companies. Our project builds on these findings, and we are particularly interested in how the networking skills of start-ups can be identified and further developed.
What do you enjoy most at HTW Berlin?
One of my personal highlights is the lively discussions with students. Lectures with international students are especially interesting. These intercultural situations often result in exciting discussions with very different perspectives on contemporary social and economic phenomena.
What is essential for you at HTW Berlin?
I’ve spent quite a lot of time working at universities abroad. As a rule, the concept of academic self-administration doesn’t exist abroad and academics do not become civil servants. I consider these two institutions to be absolutely essential in order to protect against economic and political appropriation of research and teaching. Another vital aspect is the creation of more opportunities for research, for example in the form of research semesters and by reducing teaching workloads. And last but not least, a supportive administrative department is very much necessary. It's only when this isn’t functioning properly that you realise how important this is, which is something I’ve experienced abroad. We can be very satisfied on this front at HTW Berlin.
Who would you like to have a coffee with?
Aviation is my passion so I'm currently doing my private pilot’s license because. The technology visionary and entrepreneur Elon Musk is someone who really interests me. I would love to talk to him about development paths towards climate-neutral aviation.
Photos by: Alexander Rentsch
© HTW Berlin, Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
24 September 2019