Every business needs a good strategy

Entire libraries can be filled with research on strategy, on how companies can develop and maintain a competitive advantage in the markets in which they operate. Still, it’s something many continue to grapple with.” It looks as if there’s plenty of scope for research and teaching left for Carine Peeters, who recently joined Vlerick Business School as Professor of Strategy.

In a context of increasing globalisation and fast developments in ICT, having a good strategy has become more critical than ever before. One of the areas in which Carine has particular expertise is that of international strategy. “Emerging economies are high on the agendas of boardrooms and executives, and although there are generally huge opportunities, the challenges are often underestimated. If you think of replicating your tried and tested recipes because they’ve been successful in Western economies, think again. These markets are different and therefore require a different approach to strategy and management. You have to be prepared to question whatever you’ve taken for granted so far.”

Service sourcing and delivery

Her key area of expertise is the optimisation of service delivery models, i.e. trying to find the most effective and efficient way to source the capabilities a company needs in order to be competitive, which is different for every company. “Typically, companies will not only source locally, but also abroad and they will have to find the right mix of internal and external resources, which touches on two other topics I have researched extensively: offshoring and outsourcing,” she explains, adding: “What interests me most in the area of service sourcing and delivery models is the strategic planning and implementation of the sourcing transformation.”  

More than cost-cutting and control

“One of the misconceptions I’ve been fighting ever since I started my research is that sourcing is essentially a cost-cutting exercise. Luckily, companies are beginning to realise that, while cost-cutting is important, there is more to sourcing than that. Pure cost-cutting is a recipe for disaster. Even if it can yield short-term benefits, it causes companies to miss out on opportunities to rethink how to organise their value chain to create value, which I believe is what global sourcing is about.”

While outsourcing may sound straightforward in theory, in practice it hardly ever is, as Carine points out: “Embarking on a global sourcing and outsourcing programme means you’re going to transform your organisation, and we all know how difficult it is for organisations to deal with change. So, my advice always is if you don’t take it seriously, don’t do it. You must be ready to plan and prepare for change.”

One of her pet topics is governance: “Too many managers still believe governance equals control. My view is that you need to put in place certain control measures, but control is not the essence. A good governance framework for outsourcing centres on the relationships with external parties. If you manage your relations well, then control will follow.” 

Lucky coincidence

Academics often describe themselves as either researchers or teachers, a dichotomy Carine has never felt comfortable with. “To me research and teaching are complementary,” she says. This conviction led her to us, albeit almost by accident. “About a year ago I ran into Philippe Haspeslagh at a conference. He explained that Vlerick is a place that actually nurtures this complementarity. That definitely struck a chord with me. But not only that. When I met some of the faculty members, what really excited me was their drive, their motivation, their determination to work hard and do a good job. They all seemed so happy and proud to work for Vlerick. It simply made me want to be part of that team.”

Asked about her plans, she answers that it’s still early days, but that she’s determined to continue the Vlerick tradition of impactful teaching and research. “It’s also my ambition to develop the School’s reputation in my domain of expertise and to use the contacts I’ve built up over the years to develop new and strong links between the School and the business community ... And I really look forward to working with my new colleagues, within my own domain and across other disciplines.”

What makes her tick?

“I’ve learned from past experiences that waiting for the things to happen and then complaining that they don’t happen fast enough, is not going to get you anywhere. If there’s something you really want to achieve, just go for it. Be creative, be entrepreneurial.” She smiles: “Academics too can be and should be entrepreneurial. So, my motto is where there’s a will there’s a way.”


  • Associate Professor of International Business and Strategy, Université libre de Bruxelles, Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, Belgium (2009 ‐ 2014)
  • European Outsourcing Association – Belgium, member of the Board (2010 -   )
  • FNRS / Belspo Senior Research Fellow, ECARES and Centre Emile Bernheim, Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium (2006 – 2009)
  • Research Associate, Center for International Business Education and Research, Duke University, Fuqua School of Business, USA (2004 – 2006)
  • PhD in Management, Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium (2000 – 2004)

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