The way forward
Reading time: 5 minutes
Author: Russell Gilbert
Transformative change for positive impact
How can RSM tell if it is making good progress in its mission to be a force for positive change, and if it is making a meaningful impact on society? Measuring our impact effectively and accurately over a long period of time is the way forward. However, doing so is a challenge, not just for RSM but also for business schools everywhere.
Thanks to Wilfred Mijnhardt, RSM’s director of policy, the school is mapping its education, research and communications relative to the SDGs using the SDG Mapper, an algorithm that gives an awareness of the School’s SDG footprint on an almost global scope.
To effect positive change through SDG impact, however, RSM needs a strategic and holistic narrative with multiple impact dimensions. “There are two models for SDG impact – direct and indirect. In the indirect model, the focus isn’t directly on SDG impact. Instead the focus is on businesses engaged in transformative actions. In doing so they create SDG impact,” says Wilfred.
As an example, Wilfred points to the digitisation of supply chains. “It impacts on the quality of the environment, poverty, innovation and much more as a transformative energy. It is a topic that RSM impacts through its research,” he says.
Wilfred believes it naive to think the school can have serious impact on the SDGs, simply because the scale of them is so huge. “There are so many influences and actors involved in the roadmap for the SDGs,” he says. “Focusing on transformative changes in business and society will create more positive change than naively focusing on the SDGs directly. Also, taking a transformative approach makes us more credible as agents of positive change. After all, we deliver to business, not the SDGs.”
“Focusing on transformative changes in business and society will create more positive change than naively focusing on the SDGs directly.”
- Wilfred Mijnhardt, Director of Policy, RSM
Transformative education, purposeful engagement and impactful knowledge represent the three pillars of transformative change for RSM. Wilfred explains: “If we create a sense of urgency around transformative impact topics – particularly education, gender and equality; energy decarbonisation; health and well-being; food security; sustainable cities, and sustainable development through the digital revolution – and we can relate the three pillars to these topics, the building blocks of transformative impact will come together. The BSIS Report was a step in that direction, although we are only beginning to perceive the holistic connections.”
Relative to this holistic perspective and the pillars of education, engagement and knowledge creation, Prof. Daan Stam, RSM’s dean of Engagement and Partnerships, says that: “Valorisation – the creation of value from knowledge – is often seen as solely relating to research. However, it goes beyond that. Education can also be valorised – teaching cases and professional development, for example. And this is also engagement.”
Ansgar Richter, Dean of RSM, believes there is another pillar. “As a school we are a large employer and have close to 600 members of staff,” he says. “It is important that we are not just a good employer, but also a good community to both our professional service staff and our faculty members. And we want to be an active and involved part of Erasmus University.”
Daan concurs: “We have a really big role to play in helping other schools and faculties collaborate successfully with business – particularly in the context of Erasmus University. As an example, we have launched a MSc in Medical Business Innovation in collaboration with the Erasmus Medical Centre. This is an example of really bridging the gap between management science and medical science and the creation of tremendous value.”
“We have a really big role to play in helping other schools and faculties collaborate successfully with business.”
- Daan Stam, Dean of Engagement and Partnerships, RSM
The big picture
Having a clear vision and a complete story is also connected to the compliance responsibilities that RSM has towards accreditation as a business school.
There are now nine standards for AACSB accreditation, one of the components of the triple accreditation achieved by RSM, whereas there were previously seven. The recently added Standard 8 requires business schools to demonstrate the impact of scholarship, while Standard 9, which is also new, requires the demonstration of engagement and societal impact.
“This means that in 2024, when RSM next goes through the AACSB accreditation process, we will need to have in place a compelling narrative about our impact position relative to these two new standards,” says Wilfred. “We will need to demonstrate that the challenges, the ‘mission-orientedness’, and the implementation of the choices we’ve made, genuinely produce results.
“What is needed is the ‘big picture’ for our narrative,” he says. “In many respects the impact narrative we develop for the next AACSB accreditation will be crucial. Through that all the dots join up to show that big impact picture.”
For Ansgar, being part of a public university means the school has a responsibility towards public life, in particular in the Netherlands, and that this responsibility helps shape the school’s mission of being a force for positive change. “We are part of public life, locally and internationally – and that positions us uniquely in terms of understanding society’s big challenges and in facilitating the transformations required for us to bring about meaningful, long-lasting and positive change.”
“We are part of public life, locally and internationally – and that positions us uniquely in terms of understanding society’s big challenges.”
- Ansgar Richter, Dean, RSM