Word from the dean

"Performance management has to be strategy-driven if you want to create sustainable value and not merely achieve short-term financial results."

Dear reader,

Philippe HaspeslaghFirst of all, we wish you all a happy 2012 personally. Business-wise, of course, 2011 ended on a real slowdown, and the outlook for the coming Year of the Dragon remains difficult to predict. Europe seems caught in a bind between balancing budgets and preserving growth. This is a false dichotomy, however. Government budgets unfortunately do not distinguish between operating expenses and strategic investments. Nor do politicians seem to understand the fallacy of preferring budget cuts to structural reforms.

Your School is also bracing for tough times ahead, as companies are once again facing cost containment. Our response is to be vigilant in managing our operating expenses, stay the course in strategic investments, and undertake structural reform of our organisation and programmes. Preparation of the Brussels campus for 2013 is moving along, as is work on our new website and on our rebranding, both due to be launched in September at the start of the next academic year. More importantly, we are reviewing our organisation and products so that we truly can “live the future brand inside the School”. I want to salute the 200 members of Vlerick personnel and faculty who are taking on these challenges on top of their daily tasks.

The theme of this Vlerick reflect is performance management. The Vlerick platform for performance management has brought together faculty and researchers from strategy, finance & control, human resources and IT to align and coordinate their complementary perspectives on the subject, the results of which you will soon be able to read in a forthcoming book entitled Managing for Performance Excellence.

Performance management has to be strategy-driven if you want to create sustainable value and not merely achieve short-term financial results. It has to be an integrated process that starts by generating superior strategies through effective corporate- and business-level dialogues. It continues by defining strategic KPIs to monitor strategy execution, and financial value drivers to monitor financial performance. Together these can form the basis of what might be called “a performance contract” between corporate and the business team. Such a contract is the symbol of both the team’s accountability for the results and senior management’s commitment to giving the team the resources it needs to gradually implement its strategy. Ultimately, the key becomes the translation of this into engagement of the employees, what we at Vlerick call people performance, an engagement that may or may not be directly linked to rewards.

This kind of performance management as a system is of course highly dependent on appropriate IT and Business Intelligence. If it is done strategically and consistently, the outcome is sustainable value for the stakeholders.

This Vlerick reflect will give you a feel for the resources, tools and perspectives that are important at Vlerick in every single step of this process, and how we are helping partner organisations generate better performance or benchmark themselves against others.

You will also find other news about the School, including one item I want to highlight: the retirement of Professor Roland Vandierdonck, my predecessor as Dean, whom we honoured as the first Vlerick Emeritus Professor. We already thanked Roland when he retired as Dean, but his retirement as Professor reminded us all of his great, internationally recognised contributions in manufacturing strategy, technology management and service management, which to this day have helped to put the School on the international map in these areas. On behalf of the entire Vlerick community, I wish him well.

Philippe Haspeslagh
Dean, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School

Word from the dean

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