Dirk Hackbarth: Sharing Enthusiasm for the Field of Finance

In a recent interview Dirk Hackbarth shared his great satisfaction working as an associate professor of finance in the College of Business. “There’s great support coming from my colleagues; they all are as enthusiastic about research as I am,” said Hackbarth. “This intensifies my own drive for success. I am surrounded by people who are just as eager to do great research as I am; now that’s something.”

His papers have been presented at the annual meetings of the American, European, and Western Finance Associations, and published in a variety of academic journals, including the Journal of Finance, the Journal of Financial Economics, the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, and the Review of Financial Studies. He recently assumed the role as a co-editor of Finance Research Letters, which was founded in 2004 and has become the profession’s premier outlet for shorter papers in all areas of finance.

In the classroom, Hackbarth said he tries to make things as interactive as possible for students because, “It is more likely to instill an interest in the field and the profession, and carry over to whatever line of work they may pursue in the future.” He enjoys moderating large-group discussions and organizing group projects for his students. At the graduate level, he emphasizes research and includes research training to promote independent critical thinking.

For both his teaching and his research, Hackbarth focuses on corporate finance, including capital structure, credit risk, interactions between financing and investment decisions, mergers and acquisitions, product markets and real options. He believes that identifying the areas that pose the most challenges for students is one of the most important aspects of his teaching, adding that helping students work through tougher areas is one of the foremost tasks for him. “Identifying those students who may have extra difficulties in my course is crucial, keeping an eye on those who may lag behind” Professor Hackbarth said. “Those students who score on the lower end of the spectrum on a test and need additional support are the ones that may need special attention.”

A native of the Cologne/Bonn Region, Germany, Hackbarth received his undergraduate degree in business from the University of Cologne, and received his master’s degree in economics from the London School of Economics. For his doctoral work, Hackbarth attended the University of California at Berkeley, where he received his doctorate in finance in 2003. He first served as an assistant professor of finance at Indiana University, Bloomington and later at Washington University in St. Louis before joining the Department of Finance at ILLINOIS in 2008.