Tolga Caskurlu, assistant professor of Finance
Faculty of Economics and Business
‘If you are an academic, the first thing you want is freedom. At the UvA, you have this freedom.’
What do you do?
I’m an Assistant Professor of Finance and my research focuses on law and corporate finance. I’ve been at the UvA since 2014. I completed my PhD at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and my Bachelor’s and Master’s at the Bilkent University in Turkey, which is my home country.
At the UvA, I teach and do research and I enjoy both. I believe that they are complementary. Sometimes when you are preparing lecture notes for your students, you say: ‘maybe I should teach this issue to my students’. Then you realise that nobody has actually investigated that topic! So, that topic becomes part of your research.
Currently, I am working on a project about the patent system: should we have patents or not? In the US and in some other developed countries, this issue is highly debated. Some people argue that patents aren’t useful and that we should abandon them - they lead to a lot of patent litigation which can be a barrier to small companies. I am showing the other side: when there are a lot of lawsuits, there are a lot of patent-motivated acquisitions, which provide small companies with more incentive to do R&D. I believe that this line of research has real policy implications.
Why did you choose the UvA?
One reason is that the UvA has a very good reputation. According to the top three academic journal publication statistics in the last 10 years, it is one of the top 100 universities in the world in my field. Another factor is the city of Amsterdam: who doesn’t like canals? I also have to say that Dutch people are very educated, liberal and easy-going. Moreover, just about all of them speak English well, so I don’t really need to learn Dutch. This is quite important because learning a new language is difficult when you are also doing research and teaching!
What are the most important benefits of being at the UvA?
If you are an academic, the first thing you want is freedom. At the UvA you have this freedom, and in the Netherlands you have this freedom. This freedom increases quality of life and also productivity. The other thing is that we have a very good research group and a very good seminar series: every week we invite top scholars to present their research and exchange ideas.
How do you rate the work-life balance here at the UvA?
Work-life balance is different for academics than for people in a nine-to-five job. Actually, this balance highly depends on us. It doesn’t matter what time we arrive at the office. To get tenure, we have to publish a predetermined number of articles in the top journals of our field within six years. The requirements are similar at some other good research universities in the US and Europe. Therefore, nobody questions these requirements.
What would you tell someone contemplating coming here?
I believe that it was easy to integrate at the UvA and in Amsterdam. Knowing some Dutch would be nice but it’s not a requirement. The only time that you need Dutch is when you get mail from the municipality, government or bank. We have a great department secretary who helps me with letters that I get in Dutch. I can also say that Dutch people are very helpful if you have any issues about translation.