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Wohin steuert die Rotterdam School of Management?

Der Deutsch-Kanadier Kai Peters leitet seit letztem Jahr die Rotterdam School of Management. Wir fragten ihn nach seinen Zielen für die Business School, die in Europa zu den besten fünf gehört, aber doch deutlich hinter IMD, Insead und der London Business School hinterherhinkt.
RSM and the business school arena

1. How do you evaluate the position of RSM in the Business School arena today?

The RSM is one of Europe?s leading business schools. We are international throughout, which is something facilitated by our location in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, which is the largest port in the world, and a city in a successful, innovative and outward looking country

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Since our foundation in 1970, we have mirrored the international orientation of our environment in the philosophy of our MBA, and all of our other programs. This means that we have a highly international student body, staff and faculty from all over the world, and an extensive network of global partner schools

While being international is important as it reflects the global nature of business, the RSM excels in applying an international outlook to the areas which are driving business forward: technological innovation on the one hand, and the need to develop a strategy which leverages human capital on the other.

2. What is your market position?

The RSM has developed a reputation as an innovative school which brings students together for an intense, international experience. We are a general management school which revolves around three pillars: a strong orientation on finance and on innovations in financial markets; a focus on how technology is changing both the marketplace and the workforce, and on the strategy needed to succeed in such an environment.

This market position has been developed over the years and is reinforced constantly. We recently introduced a Trading Room in the school to further develop our finance capacity, we are at the forefront of IT developments in Europe, and Rotterdam has a very strong research focus on strategic renewal in firms.

Overall, we would like to be known as an innovative, international and ambitious business school

3. What is RSM's USP?

A schools uniqueness comes from the combination of factors which differentiate it from its competitors. In the case of the RSM, it is the focus on the international business environment which is central, and its effect on technology, on finance and on a firm?s strategic orientation which orbit that central core.

4. Some of your European competitors are moving ahead quite rapidly, either by forming transcontinental alliances and offering joint programs or by establishing themselves elsewhere in the world. Isn't there a risk that RSM is left behind in this evolution?

The RSM has a long tradition of project-based international cooperation rather than on a formal, structural link to another institution. We feel that project based strategic alliances allow us to best accomplish specific goals.

At present, we have a number of partnerships for our executive clients, which are specifically tailored to the needs of those clients. In this way, we can best meet the needs of our customers.

For the MBA, we were one of the very first schools to develop exchange relationships with globally leading schools. This gives our students a unique opportunity to experience the best of two worlds, and it gives our faculty and staff a chance to interact and benchmark with the best in the world. Additionally, we are developing a technology initiative for our part time MBAs together with the Wharton School in Philadelphia and with the Recanati School in Tel Aviv. This will focus on global innovation and promises to be an exciting development.

We feel that this goal-driven alliance system is excellent. It means that we can maintain a global network, and work with our partners strengths

5. What are RSM's weak points you would like to improve?

Competition among business schools has become very global quickly. The challenge for a school like the RSM is twofold. Firstly, we must continue to grow and to create market awareness which reflects the origins of our students. With students representing over 50 nationalities, this is a challenge. We know that the success of the RSM experience is this diversity, and we are confident that our reputation is growing globally

Secondly, this global competition requires resources. Schools in Europe do not have the financial resources of US business schools where endowments of $200 million are the average for the top 10. It is important for the RSM to gain access to human and financial resources to continue to meet our goals of providing excellence in both the teaching and the resourcing of all of our programs.

6. How do you see your role as a dean?

My role as a Dean has two fundamental areas. On the one hand, I am the Managing Director of the Rotterdam School of Management. In this capacity, I am responsible for the welfare of the organization and the welfare of its students, staff and faculty. My role is to ensure that there are management systems in place, that sensible business decisions are made and that the human resources needed to accomplish these goals are available

My second role is a strategic one. I must work with my colleagues to formulate the strategy for the RSM, and I must take a lead in communicating that strategy to the outside world. I am passionate about the RSM and enjoy this external orientation very much.

7. What are your priorities as dean?

My priorities as Dean are to ensure the highest possible quality in both the programs and systems of the RSM. I seek to ensure that students have an intensely rewarding learning experience at the RSM. Additionally, I devote a tremendous amount of energy to the mobilization of RSM stakeholders, because I feel that in the networked, global economy in which we operate, a school can only be successful if stakeholders buy into the schools strategic vision.

8. Where will RSM stand in five years time?

In five years, I would like the overall portfolio of the RSM to double in size. I feel that we can grow our activity base and increase our global awareness without sacrificing our focus on quality. Secondly, I want the RSM to be the ?top-of-mind? business school in continental Europe. I feel that we have a unique opportunity to leverage our content strengths and the strengths of Erasmus University to really make a difference, and thirdly, I want to develop the financial resources with which we can expand globally.


1. One of the challenges business schools face today is e-learning. How engaged is RSM in this field?

The RSM?s strategy is to use e-learning as a complete experience which supplements the core face-to-face interaction. We continue to develop applications in logistics, communication and information which allow MBA and executive education participants to use technology where it improves their experience. The Student Information System is being redeveloped this summer. It will include access to a host of information resources which are unique to the RSM, and will supplement the live experience

2. Can you imagine an RSM online MBA in the future?

At the RSM, we feel that live interaction is critical to the success of a business school. Management involves working with people, and the best way to discuss management is to do so in personal interaction. That said, we are developing concepts for a future in which bandwidth constraints have disappeared and where we can offer an all enveloping learning experience. I imagine something on the scale of Lara Croft and Tomb Raiders. When that is possible, then I am sure that the RSM will develop programs where a major component will be online.

3. Is RSM going to market parts of its program as seperate online courses in the future?

We are presently developing modules in Executive education which function well in combination with a live course but which are also valuable resources on their own. In the first instance, we will make these available to our own executive education clients.

4. How do you see the new competitors entering the market with online MBA programs ?

There is a long and valuable tradition of excellent programs in distance learning. I feel that these players are best positioned in the online market as they have a tremendous amount of experience with the specialized didactic, logistic and motivational issues which arise when someone must devote two or more years to essentially a lonely process. I feel that some of the new, inexperienced market entrants will have a difficult time both on these areas, and equally importantly, on developing brand recognition for their products

5. Do you see FTKnowledge as a possible new competitor?

I see all of the serious new entrants as players in various segments of the business education market. Many have developed excellent products which make the most of the technical possibilities there are today. At present, we see them as an addition to, rather than as an alternative to the types of programs that the RSM offers.


MBAs traditionally go into consulting, finance, industry. Now there is a totally new student/client: the potential dotcom entrepreneur?

The RSM focuses on innovation, and as such sees developments in business as taking place in many areas of the economy. Some innovations will best be conducted through established businesses, and others are more suited to entrepreneurial environments. The RSM seeks to present students with this range of activities and to give them coping strategies for this range of opportunities.

It is our philosophy that all students should understand change and innovation. Should they seek to pursue an entrepreneurial career, we can provide them with contacts, courses and information, with an incubator, with VC panels and with mentors. We have the infrastructure in place.

Right now, the business climate is actually not very entrepreneurial. I think as an overcompensation to the ?irrational exuberance? of the past years, MBAs say that B2B means back-to-banking and B2C means back-to-consulting. I am sure that within a couple of years a new equilibrium will be reached where innovation in large and small companies can coexist within an MBA program.


1. How important is Germany for RSM?

Germany is one of the most important markets for the RSM. Traditionally, cultural similarities and language skills have meant that Germany and the Netherlands have a lot in common, and German students have felt very comfortable in Rotterdam. This has meant that Germany, and German speaking students from Switzerland and Austria form one of the largest groups of students at the RSM, traditionally contributing approximately 15% of the student body. Additionally, there are 6 to 10 German faculty members who regularly teach our MBAs.

Personally, I am always happy when either a student or a faculty member is from Hannover, which is my home town!
Dieser Artikel ist erschienen am 14.03.2001