How RSM business school in the Netherlands is strengthening its links with China by George Bickerstafffe.
China was the obvious choice when Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), a leading European business school based in the international port city of Rotterdam, moved to the next strategic step in its international development. Chinese universities and business schools have developed a strong interest in collaboration with international institutions and this is expanding beyond traditional English-speaking markets. European business schools are creating stronger footprints in foreign markets, national systems have become more open and students now go in both directions for study exchanges and in their study choices.
RSM’s appointment of Dr Ying Zhang as Associate Dean for China Business and Relations in June 2014 is a sign of the school’s serious intent. Her selection recognises the need for an entrepreneurial and proactive approach to developing relationships, bridging the differences in culture and administrational systems using a mix of skills, awareness and knowledge.
Zhang’s career displays highly suitable credentials for the role. After excelling in her classes in secondary and university education in China, she came to the Netherlands as a masters student of engineering and completed her PhD thesis, Entrepreneurship Development in China by using a Multilevel Approach, at United Nations University-MERIT and Technology University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. Her current research includes entrepreneurship and innovation, examining how Chinese firms catch up, globalisation, corporate social responsibility, project management, business school development, international academic collaboration and organisational change.
In a recent research project with KPMG (which is now a Harvard Business School working paper), Zhang analysed approaches to project management by Dutch and Chinese managers and highlighted the value of understanding cultural differences. Understanding how to do business in China is often included in business school curricula but many higher education institutions still struggle with the differences and expectations. Zhang says it is vital to identify what is important for both sides and how value is created in a relationship.
“Not only are business students from China important to the school but the involvement of a highly-ranked European business school in China is important for China too,” she adds. “With China’s rapid economic development, there is an intensive demand for highly qualified human capital and a broad range of high-quality business education is clearly needed. American and European business schools can both contribute and such collaborations will lead to extensive mutual learning, benefiting both sides.” Zhang says that understanding Chinese policies in higher education and following an effective strategy in working with Chinese partner universities are very important.
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