Jakki Mohr Invited to Saudi Arabia to Help Solve Global Issues

Jakki Mohr in Saudi Arabia

When the University of Montana is mentioned in a group of high technology experts, a typical response might be, “Isn’t that where Jakki Mohr teaches?” Indeed, Professor Jakki Mohr has enjoyed a global reputation for her research and teaching in the field of High Technology Marketing for many years.

Mohr’s expertise is in high demand, taking her annually to numerous countries from Chile to Switzerland to lecture and advise on high-tech marketing issues. This year, Mohr added Saudi Arabia to her list. Mohr was invited to participate in a workshop focused on future energy and transportation scenarios held at KAPSARC.  KAPSARC is an autonomous think tank founded by the late King Abdullah to study global energy challenges and opportunities and “conduct high-caliber research to create benefit society.”

As the only academic invited from the U.S., Mohr was one of thirty researchers and industry experts to tackle the global issue of world dependence on a nonrenewable resource: oil.  Mohr and other technology and innovation researchers joined energy policy makers from Europe, Japan, China, India and Washington, DC, along with experts from the auto industry to share cutting-edge information on this complicated high-tech issue. 

 Mohr’s book, Marketing of High Technology Products and Innovations, is a seminal work in the field. When asked what her particular role was in the workshop, Mohr responded, “I provided a different theoretical lens to inform participants of modeling alternatives.”

An important take away for Mohr from the conference was that “sustainable business practices are not moving the needle on climate change fast enough to deal with renewable energy issues. This has become a problem all countries must solve together.”

When asked to describe her experience as a professional in Saudi Arabia, Mohr said, “It’s a rich culture full of paradoxes.”  One of those paradoxes was being invited to speak on automotive technologies in a country where women are not allowed to drive.  Other ironies Mohr found focused on the place of women in society. “I was aware of the strict rules about how women dressed in public and about using the appropriate door to a restaurant or on a plane. But it surprised to me to learn that paternalistic behavior towards women also had positive roots.  According to what I saw and was told, such restrictions also stem from the fact women are highly honored and respected.  It is a belief, held by many, that women should not be subjected to the unsavory aspects of the secular world.”

Mohr was not required to cover her head while on public excursions, but she decided it was the appropriate thing to do.  “I felt I needed to show my respect for cultural norms.  I did not want to call attention to the cultural differences when we were trying to solve problems that impact the world.”

When asked how her high-tech marketing class reacted to her participation in the think tank, Mohr responded, “I assigned two readings on disruptive innovation in Saudi Arabia—one on deployment of solar technology in the country and the other about Princess Reema’s efforts to change cultural norms about women, and proscriptions against exercise, breast cancer screenings, and women in the work world.  Disruptive innovations to be sure!  The students helped me prepare by asking hard questions.  I was ready for just about anything before I left Montana.  Teaching keeps me on the cutting-edge of my research. The class was with me every step of the way.”