Professor profile: Berrin Erdogan

Dr. Berrin Erdogan, an associate professor in the School of Business Administration, sees being a professor as three jobs wrapped into one.

Photo © Portland State University
Photo © Portland State University

Dr. Berrin Erdogan, an associate professor in the School of Business Administration, sees being a professor as three jobs wrapped into one.

“Teaching is only one part of it, and there’s at least 50 percent there that’s not visible to the outside world,” Erdogan said.

She is always surprised when people think all college professors do is teach.

Erdogan, who teaches undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in human resources management at Portland State, first became interested in the topic when she started taking those kinds of classes while getting her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey.

“I thought that studying the human side of business was an interesting area,” Erdogan said.

Right out of college, she worked as a corporate trainer and quickly realized she had a love for teaching. She decided to go back to school to get an advanced degree.

Erdogan received a master’s degree in behavioral sciences from Istanbul University, and then a doctoral degree in business administration with a concentration in human resources management from the University of Illinois, Chicago.

“Then I discovered that college professors also do research, which was a nice surprise, so that also became a passion,” Erdogan said. Her research at PSU mainly deals with the study of relationships in the workplace.

“Relationships between managers and employees, specifically,” Erdogan said. “How does that relationship quality translate to worker retention, happiness and well-being? And how do you develop a work environment where those relationships are possible?”

She also studies the idea of employees fitting in at their jobs. And with that comes consequences of misfit.

Erdogan studies a certain form of job overqualification. She looks at employees with surplus skills and qualifications—people who are holding a job that does not make full use of the skills and education that they have. She looks at the consequences of this and how to deal with them.

When she came to PSU, Erdogan seemed to fit perfectly. “PSU had a core group of management faculty that was really attractive to me. The school of business is very supportive of research and [of] creating an atmosphere of conducting high-quality research. And, of course, being in the Pacific Northwest [is good].”

Whenever she has free time, she enjoys taking a book downtown to the Pearl District and relaxing in a cafe with a cup of coffee.

Erdogan believes that being a college professor is part teaching, part research and part service. Teaching requires standing in front of a class facilitating, while research usually requires a lot of solitude.

“These are very contradicting jobs,” Erdogan said. “I think that it’s really interesting to see once you get to know college professors—a lot of them are actually introverts. Outside of the classroom they are actually sitting in their office[s], reading and writing.”

Professors also typically serve on a lot of committees, really “trying to improve the curriculum,” Erdogan said. “Or create policies and procedures…to make the school a better place.”