Academic work

While my work in academia has been rewarding in many ways, I currently have no plans for returning to teaching, and possibly to the world of (higher) education in general. I feel it’s time for something else.


At Tilburg University, I obtained a Master’s degree in Information Management. Unlike most of my fellow students, IT consultancy didn’t appeal to me, so I ended up (after a supply chain project at ASML) doing a PhD in Innovation Management at Radboud University. In this qualitative research project, I studied the long-term evolution of buyer-supplier relationships in the Dutch high-tech manufacturing industry. I learned how technological choices (esp. system architecture) influence the possibilities for manufacturing and R&D outsourcing, and also about processes of co-specialization between high-tech OEMs and suppliers. Moreover, I learned enough about qualitative research to survive, and also that people are really forthcoming when it comes to talking about their work. In case you’re bored out of your wits and/or have trouble sleeping, feel free to download my PhD thesis.

I consecutively ended up doing a variety of academic teaching work on a freelance basis for Radboud University (Nijmegen, NL), Erasmus University (IHS; Rotterdam; NL), Open University (Maastricht, Utrecht; NL) and EDHEC Business School (Lille, Paris; France). My teaching activities comprised courses, workshops, consultancy project supervision, thesis supervision and thesis assessment. The knowledge domains were business administration, innovation management, innovation and energy policy and (esp. qualitative) research methods.

Impact and publications

In my academic teaching I have placed a heavy emphasis on connecting academia and society (industry, policy) and thereby preparing students for their careers (mostly) outside the confines of university. I have done this by taking on challenges to design courses, educational materials and ways of engaging students that were complementary to the regular curriculum, as well as offering extensive illustration of how the material within regular courses (e.g. research methods) is useful in a non-academic career. This emphasis on practical relevance is also the explanation for my short list of academic publications, which is limited to a PhD thesis (see above) and two journal articles (in Industrial Marketing Management and in IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management). The process of publishing has never excited me much, and I feel that for me, it’s an inefficient way of attempting to impact society. I prefer to interact with people directly.

Apart from offering the unique opportunity to guide young people in a part of their intellectual development, I myself have learned a great deal working as an academic educator: from how to design courses and research projects, delivering lectures, coaching students in educational as well as personal matters, translating practical problems into researchable and academic terms, to the efficient organization of (course administration) processes.

I will probably never shake the impression that I ended up learning more than my students did. However, with some pride and without intention to boast, my evaluations by students as well as feedback from colleagues was consistently highly positive. Likewise, I greatly appreciated the interesting and pleasant interactions with students, colleagues and industry representatives. Part of the fun has been in the wide range of students I’ve had the pleasure to work with, ranging from business administration students to students from the exact sciences, and people from literally all across the globe.

In a decade of academic teaching, I have lectured to several thousands of students across more than ten different courses, and I have assessed and/or supervised well in excess of a hundred Master’s and Bachelor’s theses on dozens of different topics. Trying to offer an exhaustive list would be silly, since there’s just too much I’ve done. From teaching qualitative methods classes to doing workshops with communications students on entrepreneurship, supervising and assessing theses on topics ranging from solid waste management to innovation in the cultural heritage sector, and supporting mid-career MBA students in their writing challenges to inquiring after weekend plans with 22-year old Bachelor students during a Thursday-morning methods class (there’s much more to studying than soaking up knowledge and that’s extremely important!) Instead, I’ll highlight a few examples that illustrate the broad scope of activities I’ve been involved in.

EDHEC Business School: advisory projects

At EDHEC business school, I also designed and taught courses for (mixed) research methods (in preparation of the Master thesis) and energy policy for the MGSB and ran Business Ethics workshops for the expansive BBA bachelor program. Furthermore, I supervised several Master’s thesis projects for the MGSB.

Together with the Program Director of the Master in Global and Sustainable Business (MGSB), I set up and supported an advisory project program that formed the alternative a Master’s thesis. Teams of four students worked on real-world challenges brought about by actual firms such as Michelin, The Body Shop, Butagaz and Del Monte. We coached the students in scoping the problem, identifying customer requirements and solution alternatives, preparation of an advise and suggestions for implementation. The end result was offered in the form of an interactive presentation and a company report. My activities included end-to-end support of the process, including stakeholder management, scheduling, subject-matter coaching and evaluation.

Institute for Housing and urban development Studies (IHS): thesis assessor and lecturer

The IHS is a quasi-autonomous department within the Erasmus University that offers Master’s and PhD programs to international professionals in public management seeking to further their intellectual development. It focuses on challenges related to urbanization, such as governmental processes surrounding water management and solid waste management. I acted as an assessor of Master theses, which involved evaluating research proposals and finished theses using the criteria outlined by the Program Director.

For IHS, I also designed and executed an online course on qualitative data analysis (using Atlas.ti) that could be offered during covid-lockdown. Due to its effectiveness and suitability for the IHS context, it continued to be used when lockdown conditions were lifted. I also delivered guest lectures on the organization of the drinking water infrastructure of Rotterdam (and its environs) from an academic perspective. For this purpose, I made an extensive analysis of the organization of the drinking water sector in The Netherlands and conducted in-depth interviews with Evides and other industry representatives.

Institute for Science, Innovation and Society (ISIS), Radboud University: thesis supervisor

The ISIS challenged students from the exact sciences (e.g. chemistry, mathematics, physics) to apply their skills to societal problems, often related to major challenges such as climate change. They did this by performing a research internship and writing a master’s thesis for a company or government organization. My job as a supervisor was to help the student translate the practical requirement of the host organization into a researchable and feasible thesis topic, guide the student through the processes of literature research, methodological planning, data collection & analysis and writing, assessing the process and result, and aligning between the student, university and host organization as necessary.

A particular element of this work was guiding students from the exact sciences through the challenge of coming to grips with the fundamentally different approach of social sciences. I have always regarded this experience as the most valuable lesson for the students involved due to (1) the fundamental questions it involves, relating to how as a society we generate and deal with knowledge in different ways (e.g. epistemology), and (2) the practical utility this experience has had for students in planning their careers.

Radboud University: qualitative research methods

Qualitative research methods is a course in the Business Administration Bachelor and pre-Master programs. This course consists of lectures as well as practical team assignments in which the students conduct and report on a qualitative research project. My work comprised delivering and re-designing some of the lectures (e.g. on philosophy of science and data analysis; up to 400 students) as well as supervising the practical assignments for up to 15 student teams (total 60 students distributed across two groups) at a time.

One of the main skills the students learned in these classes was to translate the diffuse and heterogenic practical context of their research into consistent conceptual models of concepts and causal relationships. In this, I drew heavily on my background in Information Management, which also involves an emphasis on data modeling, distinguishing between data types, archetypical information elements (cf. object-oriented programming ‘classes’) and specific data elements (‘instances’). I view this ability to abstract reality into theoretical models and then working with those models in order to describe, understand, predict and direct reality as the core/essence of an academic formation.