Ludwig A. Bstieler
Excellence in Teaching
Assistant Professor of Marketing
Whittemore School of Business and Economics
To get there faster...take a detour
"I don't supervise students," admits assistant professor of marketing Ludwig Bstieler (pronounced be-steeler), reflecting on his approach to teaching. "I try to coach them."
Or, as Marketing Chair Charles W. Gross notes, "Beyond the classroom, Ludwig has always extended his helping hand to students whether those students are in a course that he teaches or not. He consistently provides guidance and offers invaluable advice to students involved in the graduate Corporate Round Table projects or the undergraduate Marketing Workshop class, as well as off-campus internships."
After earning his doctorate at the University of Innsbruck in his native Austria, and teaching briefly at MIT, Bstieler joined UNH full time in January 2001, where he rapidly developed his reputation for excellence in teaching among both his students and his peers. "Every professor has a unique style," observes M.B.A. student Jason McKinney. "Professor Bstieler's happens to be particularly effective because he is passionate about his field and the students he serves."
Bstieler has great respect for his students. "What amazes me is how many talented students we have within any given class," exclaims Bstieler. "The challenge is, how do you unleash those talents and get students to do things they haven't dared or cared to do before?"
Teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses in brand management, marketing research, and new product development for full- and part-time students, Bstieler begins by tailoring each course to the specific audience he is trying to reach. For example, a 5:30 p.m. class typically includes students who have already attended several classes that day; it also includes students with full-time jobs who come to class after a busy work day. Comparing a student's capacity to learn, or take in new information, to a glass of water, Bstieler observes, "They come to class with their glasses already full. They need to have their glasses emptied before you can start working with them."
Bstieler, whose scholarly research focuses on innovative processes and interorganizational trust formation, employs a variety of creative techniques to "empty their glasses," including using music at the beginning and during class. He may begin class, not with a lecture, but with a puzzle, a group activity, a silent assignment, or by telling a story. Often it will seem completely unrelated at first, but later during the class, Bstieler will tie it back to the course material. "In order to get there faster," Bstieler reasons, "you often have to take a detour."
In addition to extensive reading and writing assignments, Bstieler organizes each course around a major research project. "What really brought everything together for me was the large group project: to take an idea through the new product development life cycle," says Matt Primich, a software engineer who received his M.B.A. in June 2005 and now works at Liberty Mutual in New Hampshire. "My group's idea was a 'rechargeable hair dryer' for dogs. Groomers at dog shows were our target market. The project touched upon the various phases of new product development. We performed up-front desk research, and we interviewed many potential consumers. We even attended a dog show in Portland, Maine."
Using videotapes of their presentations, Bstieler engages students in a critical reflection of what they like and dislike about their performance—and what they are going to do to improve their presentation skills next time. "Rather than focus on the how-to processes of businesses," says Bstieler, "I try to teach lifelong skills, such as the way to deal with other people in business relationships—building trust and communicating ideas, or how to design and conduct effective up-front research. These skills might be more important in the long run rather than specific marketing knowledge."