Academic research high on the agenda

Overview of research at Vlerick Business School in 2013

A year ago Vlerick Business School and the Flemish government signed a Scientific Research Covenant in which Flanders pledges to support academic research for a six-year period. We can safely say that to date it has been a very positive experience, with most targets having been amply surpassed.

A clear trend in 2013 was the sharp increase in the publication of scientific articles in high-impact journals, the so-called A* or A publications. In 2011 these articles accounted for 20% of all publications; in 2013 this figure increased to 35%. This is a clear sign that the quality of our research output has improved even further. “Developing the management skills of young talents through our Master’s and MBA courses remains our core task. In order for us to continue doing so, our school’s academic approach is more important than ever before. We put great effort into recruiting and developing a top faculty, and we should be proud of their talent. They have generated more high-quality publications than ever before, whilst continuing to invest in teaching methods and continuously improving our approach and methodology”, explains Dean Philippe Haspeslagh.

Furthermore, the number of research reports reached 22 – double the figure for 2011 and triple that of 2012. These reports are the result of projects for companies as well as government entities. As such, Vlerick clearly proves that its relevance to companies, policymakers and society at large takes centre stage.

Stronger focus on doctoral research

Vlerick is increasing its focus on doctoral projects. “After all, conducting fundamental scientific research is a basic endeavour for every academic institution”, says Eva Cools, Research Manager at Vlerick Business School. In 2013 seven staff members earned their PhDs under the supervision of Vlerick professors, a record figure for a one-year period. The streamlined doctoral process at Vlerick is clearly bearing fruit. Now there is a clear programme as a guideline for students, as well as closer collaboration with the universities of Ghent and Leuven. “Apart from meeting a number of admission requirements, PhD candidates must also make the necessary efforts to collect the funds needed. We have noted that students are older when they start their research, making it a clear and well-thought-out decision. Consequently, few students drop out of the process, which, on average, lasts three to four years. Our doctoral process has become a very intense training period with an almost guaranteed result for the student”, says Eva Cools.

Crossing borders

A stay abroad is undoubtedly enriching in terms of knowledge and development. In 2013 four colleagues lived and worked in various countries for a combined total of 21 months. They were mostly hosted by a university or another business school where they conducted joint research with colleagues. Upon their return, they brought that knowledge back to Vlerick, our students and our business community. “On the other hand, 17 academics came to Belgium to join ongoing research as Vlerick Research Fellows. This cross-fertilisation is fundamental”, says Eva Cools. “And last but not least, Vlerick research is also disseminated worldwide through the participation of our faculty and researchers in international academic conferences.”

Internal recognition

Vlerick Business School has presented its third ‘Best Researcher Award’, an internal prize that was created to give high-quality research more visibility and to highlight the importance of research for our school. In 2013 the external jury awarded the prize to Professor Sophie Manigart for her excellent academic output and her efforts in supporting and assisting others in achieving research results.

2013 in figures

  • 52 articles were accepted for publication or published in various academic journals.
  • 7 PhD students defended their PhD thesis under the supervision of a Vlerick professor.
  • 8 staff members started their PhD, bringing the total number of PhD students to 18.
  • Vlerick professors and researchers gave 71 presentations at international conferences.
  • Vlerick professors and researchers spent a total of 21 months abroad; the 48 Vlerick professors represent a total of 14 nationalities.
  • When the current agreement with the Flanders DC Knowledge Centre ends, some 25 studies will have been completed and several relevant tools will have been developed.
  • As part of the new Scientific Research Covenant with the Flemish government for the period 2013–2018, 15 new research projects were approved, bringing the total number of projects to 81.
  • 7 books by Vlerick authors were published, and another 8 are in the pipeline for 2014.

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