SBE research is “very good”
MAASTRICHT. Grants and top publications are somewhat lacking, but all in all economic and business administration research at SBE is of a high level. Just like in the rest of the Netherlands, according to the latest QANU assessment report. But faculties that want to be at the top, must pay higher salaries.
The initial oral explanation, immediately after the assessment in autumn, was like a thorn in the flesh of the School of Business and Economics, but that turned out to be a matter of the choice of words. Now that things have been formulated more carefully in the final report, the faculty board is satisfied, says Peter Schotman, spokesperson for research.
“That SBE should be more ambitious when it comes to obtaining grants, seems justified to me. I mean, we haven’t managed to pull many ERC grants (a major European subsidy, ed.) in the past few years. In fact, not a single one. Veni and Vidi grants we did manage to get, but even there it could be more.”
Then there is the criticism of the organisational structure. Is it necessary to have a portfolio administrator for research and a director of the research school, the assessment committee wonders. “We did at one time only have a portfolio administrator and then a KNAW committee advised us to appoint a director as well. Anyway, we need to take another good look at the matter. Also because we are changing the internal faculty organisation.”
There is praise for the way in which SBE combines fundamental and contract research, for the valorisation of research (“outstanding”), and for the contribution towards the local economy. SBE also has the most PhDs (“impressive”). And Maastricht, after Rotterdam, has produced the highest number of publications, even though relatively few articles (29 per cent) were published in top journals. The attempts made to attract more women into science (Women in academia), also met with the committee’s approval.
The general tenor of the assessment report, which covers the period of 2008 to 2014, is surprising for several reasons. Whereas in the past, individual research groups were assessed separately, now it was only the faculty as a whole. The tone was remarkable too, in the sense that the committee confronts the Dutch faculties with an Anglo-Saxon mirror.
Faculties may have adopted the Anglo-Saxon career routes, or tenure tracks, but they don’t offer the accompanying clear career paths. Schotman: “You may say that every lecturer must be able to get a professorship, like in some Anglo-Saxon universities, but I don’t think that is realistic in the Netherlands. At the moment, we don’t use a career principle, but a staffing principle. But it is good, as the committee recommends, to draw up clear criteria for a private chair.” The new HRM policy, which will be presented shortly, appears to offer opportunities for such a personal title, outside the regular staff.
Another Anglo-Saxon piece of advice: the faculties that want to reach the international top, need to bring in big shots and so pay higher salaries. That won’t be possible with government funding and that is why sponsoring is required. “I feel that we need to start a discussion about this at SBE. How much are we prepared to pay for a professor who can serve as a front?”