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He is author of numerous books, including 'Strategic Management: Competitiveness and Globalization', which is used as a strategy textbook in various business schools across Europe. He has won multiple Best Paper Awards and is the Scientific Director of the Amsterdam Centre for Business Innovation. The centre annually performs the Dutch Innovation Monitor survey. Meet our full professor of Strategy & Innovation, Henk Volberda.

‘When we talk about the subject innovation and strategy, it really fascinates me how organisations think about future events. How do you keep distinguishing yourself in the long term?

Innovation and strategy

The companies that fascinate me the most are organisations that really invest in new techniques and people. They don’t think about what they can do now, but in ten years. These organisations are future proof. But too many organisations and managers focus only on today’s events. Experience shows that there is often little time to think about the future and long-term goals.’

The purpose of organisations

‘In my research I focus on various themes, such as hyper-competition, technological disruption, new business models, management innovation and new forms of organisation. In recent years I have focused my research on the purpose of organisations. What is the social role of a company? With a team of researchers, we asked nearly 60 respondents (CEO’s, board members, internal and external stakeholders) of 10 large companies about their purpose. We developed a model that shows that successful companies have not only economic but also social value. This research has resulted in a new book called De Winst van Purpose that will be released in October 2022. After our interviews and purpose scan, some of the companies that participated started to rethink their purpose. They also decided to include a more social dimension of creating value for society.’

‘Something else I'm working are multiple top journal publications, a new strategy management textbook, the Dutch Innovation Monitor, and research about self-managing organisations. For this research we are doing experiments and are observing different teams for a period of two years. We are asking ourselves questions such as: what are the effects of a self-management team and how did it start? Many of the new generation-Z workers no longer want to work in hierachical bureaucratic organisations. So firms have to rethink the way they are organised and whether self-organisation is a feasible option. I believe these research projects are very good examples of how our research can make an impact on our society.’

Copyright: UvA
What students can expect from me as a lecturer? Interactive lectures, I ask a lot of questions during my classes, or I ask a student to be my side-kick for that hour. I expect my students to be motivated and prepared. Prof. Henk Volberda

Contributing to society

‘It is important to me to contribute to our society through my research. I aim to make triple impact. By that I mean that I want to have scientific impact by doing top quality education and excellent research. Level two is that it should also lead to business impact effecting business and organisations. And level three is policy impact meaning that our research findings must have clear implications for policy makers. For example, I work with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate when it comes to the Innovation Monitor.’

Interactive lectures

‘In addition to my research career, I am a lecturer of the master Digital Business. I find working with inspired people motivating. I also really enjoy debating with students. I still learn a lot of them. They keep you on your toes. What students can expect from me as a lecturer? Interactive lectures, I ask a lot of questions during my classes, or I ask a student to be my side-kick for that hour. I expect my students to be motivated and prepared. Only then the student can challenge me, which has a positive effect on education. I feel proud hearing from former students that they have learned a lot from me. Even better is when I hear my former students got the ambitious job they were aiming for!’

Advice to new students

‘When I was younger, I won a thesis award. I was allowed to study one year in the US (Wharton School), and I took several PhD and MBA courses there. I noticed early on that the students there were asking many questions during class as they would be judged for their participation each class. One day the teacher asked me: ‘Why is it that you don’t ask any questions?’. I wasn’t used to it, but of course I wanted a good score. So, that was the moment that I challenged myself to always ask questions. I have benefitted by taking on this challenge and that is also why my advice to new academic students is to keep asking questions. Don’t take anything for granted.’

Sports and gardening

‘What I love to do in my spare time you ask? Sports, like tennis or fitness. I also enjoy gardening. I live in an area with lots of nature and have some trees in my garden. So, there is always something to do.’