Lars Perner, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Clinical Marketing
Department of Marketing, Marshall School of Business
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0443
Phone: (213) 740-7127 Cell: (213) 304-17264



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(Not To Be Taken Too Seriously....)

Lars Perner was born in Denmark in 1964. In his early years, Lars developed a great fondness for locks, keys, and safes. At one point, while on vacation with his family at a primitive riding camp, he took the opportunity to try out a newly acquired padlock on an outhouse being used by a farm hand, only notifying adults hours later. To this day, he still feels somewhat guilty about this deed.


Lars was not an enthusiastic student in his early years and took a long time to learn to read. He did, however, enjoy dictating stories that his grandmother would transcribe. A favorite topic was castles with sink-bridges, cannons, secret tunnels, and multiple redundantly locked doors.


From early on, Lars tended to have relatively firm beliefs about what was good and what was bad, being somewhat unamenable to "misguided" disagreeing viewpoints. For Lars, tolerance was not a natural trait, but one that would only very gradually emerge as he gained more perspective on life. In fact, Lars, in his youth, tended to think of people with different perspectives as at best severely deficient in intellectual firepower and quite possibly heretical--certainly worthy, at least, of extreme suspicion. In the fifth grade, Lars wrote an irate letter to the Danish Minister of Education protesting that British, rather than American, English was taught in the Danish schools despite the unquestionably greater merits of the latter. Many years later, when Lars went back to visit his old English teacher at his old elementary school, this teacher produced a copy of the minister's response from the school files. Lars was also very indignant in his disgust with the extreme left wing bias he observed in his teachers and classmates, fearing that many, if not almost all of them, were Communists.


In 1978, when Lars was 14, he was able to "escape" to a proper capitalist environment as his family moved to California. His mother hoped to spread the Icelandic Horses that she had pioneered in Europe and produce even better opportunities for the family. By then, Lars was starting to have second thoughts about his early political views. He soured greatly on the Republican party when the got the impression that, as Ronald Reagan campaigned for the Presidency, all Republicans wanted to institute school prayer and the teaching of creationism in the public schools. He had just escaped to a country that, unlike his native land which featured an official government church, promised a separation of church and state. Now these subversives were making an egregious attempt government intrusion! Lars would become a New Deal Democrat, although he eventually came to see himself as a moderate.


In high school, Lars caused a lot of headaches for administrators, complaining, among other things, about the inadequacy of efforts to curtail the frequent grammatical errors in the school bulletin and the indecency of the cheerleaders' short skirts. Although by now a good student, Lars also continued to frustrate his teachers by his handwriting which, despite efforts to improve it, could most charitably be described as difficult to read. One teacher commented that Lars was a good student "so long as he types his assignments."


Owing in part to this then rather judgmental nature, Lars often experienced a reverse generation gap within his family. Once, he lectured his grandmother, who was in her seventies at the time, about the obscenity of the Victorian "art" that they had encountered in a museum. (It might be noted that certain people might choose to move the quotation marks to a different word in the previous sentence).

In his early college years at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, Lars had planned to become an attorney and majored in political science. Very early on, however, he became convinced that the legal profession was not for him and instead decided to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology. He does, however, until this day maintain a great deal of interest in law--especially constitutional, antitrust, intellectual property, and state-Federal relations. Since psychology was not yet offered as a major at Cal Poly, Lars maintained his political science major and took most of the psychology courses offered as an effective double major. Lars considered numerous subfields in psychology and eventually settled on industrial/organizational psychology, which seemed to hold promise for practical applications. Deciding, rather naively, to go for an M.B.A. on the way to his Ph.D. as a way to gain a perspective on business, Lars was for the first time exposed to marketing and decided that this field seemed to be an even better outlet for his interests in individual behavior and motivation.


Moving to Los Angeles to begin the Ph.D. program in marketing at the University of Southern California was a major change for someone who had never lived in a city with more than 40,000 people before. Lars knew that he had arrived in Los Angeles when, on his first morning there, he awoke to hear the announcer on his clock radio report "Coming up in the news, there has been a coup in the Soviet Union and Gorbachev has been overthrown, but first here's traffic!" In the program, Lars became intrigued by the psychology of how consumers react to prices and did his dissertation on how different consumers respond to stable and fluctuating supermarket prices. While teaching international marketing, Lars was hit by a realization of just how little research has been done on pricing on non-U.S. consumers and developed research interests in this area.


There are some people who fit better into academia than into the "real" world out there. The world only needs a limited number of "eccentric, absent minded professors," but there is a need for a modest group of people to teach and do research. For someone who is hesitant about change, Lars is sometimes amazed at what he was able to pull off: At one point, he did have to make a one hundred eighty degree turn in the classroom, facing the students, but otherwise, he could stay in school! It is also great to be paid to talk about one's favorite topics of interest.


Lars spent the 1998-1999 academic year as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland at College Park, teaching consumer behavior and is spending the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 academic years in the International Business Department at The George Washington University. In 2001, Lars began a two year visit at the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Riverside. In the fall of 2003, Lars began a tenure-track position at the Imperial Valley Campus of San Diego State University. In the Fall of 2006, Lars returned to the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, where he is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Marketing.


Lars maintains research interests primarily in consumer behavior and international marketing. His current research focuses on issues such as bargain hunting, the experiences of consumers on the autistic spectrum, the effects of color on product perception, and marketing education. Recently, Lars has become interested in how "win-win" situations may be created through partnerships between businesses and non-profit groups that aim to create a better world. He is especially interested in fund raising opportunities to benefit autism programs. Lars has taught courses in a number of area, including introductory marketing, consumer behavior, international marketing and business, marketing strategy, distribution, statistics, and research methods.


Lars does have "a few" personality quirks. One of these is writing what at least some people would consider humorous exam questions. Back in graduate school, when Lars was writing a final exam for an introductory marketing course he was teaching, a very loud rap band was playing in the quad area near his office. This was the start of a tradition of exam questions about rap musicians. These first questions were not complementary, with one of the artists being named Mediocre M. Yet, with time, Lars mellowed and the rap musicians on his exams became more likable. When at the University of Maryland, Lars started a tradition of a rap musician named for the school mascot. Terpy T, named after the Maryland Terrapins, on a consumer behavior final, sought students' advice on how to persuade the Dean of Robert H. Smith School of Business to add a minor in rap marketing to the curriculum. Overall, many people have remarked that Lars has a very "dry" sense of humor.


You might be wondering whether--and if so, how-- Lars ever became more tolerant. He strongly asserts that he has. Occasionally, he does have a small relapse. Some years ago, Lars received a direct mail offer to receive a sleazy catalog with indecent pictures from a filthy publisher. Checking the box to be taken off those psychopaths' mailing list, he wrote in (despite his being an agnostic), "I hope you burn in Hell for all eternity!" At the bottom, by the slogan "Satisfied customers for 25 years," he wrote "I hope they burn, too!" Although usually very mild mannered, Lars allowed himself to yell at two crooked car sales people within a two year period, but he likes to think that this represented righteous indignation rather than judgment. Nowadays, Lars tremendously enjoys Robert Palmer's song "It Takes Every Kinda People."

Since being diagnosed with a mild case of Asperger's Syndrome in 1997, Lars has become increasingly interested in autistic spectrum conditions and has written and presented extensively at conferences on his own experience, education for individuals on the spectrum, marketing people on the spectrum, and the "big picture" of autism. He is happy to have found a place in academia where there is a greater tolerance for eccentric individuals. For more information, see

Lars harbors a secret dream of becoming a country music star, but given questionable aptitude in that area, he has decided to stick with academia. He has, however, written two country songs. "Tears on My Keyboard" is about a man in Tennessee who falls in love with a woman in Tennessee with the sad realization that "You belong in Texas, but I am stuck in Tennessee!"




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