Beyond the Bio: Khalid Nainar

November 26, 2014 | Hamilton, Ontario
Contributed by Khalid Nainar, Professor and Chair Accounting and Financial Management Services Area

nainar_khalid-01In a few sentences, please summarize your academic/business career leading up to you joining DeGroote.

Before joining DeGroote in 1988, I grew up New Delhi, the capital city of India. I did my undergraduate studies (St. Stephen’s College) as well as my Masters (Delhi School of Economics) at the University of Delhi. From there I went to the U.S. to do a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Florida. During that time my interests broadened and I ended up completing a joint degree in economics and accounting. It was during my job search that I came up to Canada from Florida. I had received campus visits for two positions—one at the University of Waterloo and the other at McMaster University. I travelled up to Canada and having just arrived, I checked in at the Waterloo Inn to house me through the interview process. One hilarious reflection I have is when I looked outside of the hotel window and I saw a cow. I thought to myself, “This isn’t a very developed city”. Now, Waterloo is well developed, but back then it was all farms, and growing up in an urban area in New Delhi, I couldn’t visualize myself living in the farms of Waterloo. I therefore chose McMaster and I’ve been here ever since — in fact, I still even have some of those old floppy disks that I used from back then.

Why academia? What led you to teach?

Although I’m an academic now, I consider myself to be an “accidental” academic. I initially imagined that after my studies I would end up somewhere in the World Bank or the United Nations. However my supervisors influenced me to go the classic route. At the time, most PhDs were employed by colleges and universities. And that’s why I consider myself to be an accidental academic—I didn’t just wake up one morning and decided to become a professor. Instead, like most things in life, things happen—a multitude of factors that were largely out of my control led me to where I am now.

What is the first thing your students learn about you that isn’t in your academic bio?

The first thing that they would come to know is the understanding of contemporary industry developments. There’s a false dichotomy between industry and academics, particularly for a professional school, such as a B-school. I like to bring in knowledge from the industry into the classes I teach. In fact, all of the material that I teach in my courses relate to the industry in some way. I believe that all knowledge is contextual; therefore, I try to help my students understand that both the industry and academia are related to each other and without knowing the context of a particular knowledge, that knowledge is useless.

What excites you about your current research interests?

Since the financial crisis, many of my research questions regarding accounting have been in the area of ethics and compliance, specifically: what fosters trust? What makes somebody unethical? And how does this impact the economy and regulatory mechanisms?

Going back to my economics side, I employ econometric methods to study empirical questions. One question I ask is, “what should a regulator do?” For example, if managerial misconduct happens, how should the SEC address this problem? What is the best way for the SEC to behave? Instead of looking at what leads to the problem, I flip this ethical question. Most of the times in the extant literature people ask, what leads to the problem instead of looking at what the regulator does about this problem.

Another research interest of mine is Islamic finance. I remember one time when I took a trip to Dubai, I saw a newspaper headline about Islamic bonds (Sukuks) that lost somewhere around 85% of their value. I was fascinated by this because I wondered how a bond could lose so much of its value because of something somebody said. This incident led me to think about the field of Islamic finance, specifically to try and see the properties of several of types of Islamic financial instruments. Some of the topics that I look at in this research area are how venture capital industry fits into Islamic finance. I’m very excited about this because it’s not only intellectually stimulating, but also socially and politically important. One topic that I am looking at right now is how we can mobilize the Middle East’s liquid capital (and sovereign wealth funds) into Canada, as Canada is a very resource intensive country.

Dr. Nainar is a professor and the current Chair Accounting and Financial Management Services Area. He specializes in insider trading and ethical attitudes in experimental asset markets, energy issues particularly oil markets, rationality of financial analysts’ forecasts and accounting measures of price and volume volatility.

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