Peter Schotman is Professor of Empirical Finance at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics (SBE) and Associate Dean of Research, a 3-year rotating position on the SBE Faculty Board. Having taken up the role in September 2014, it is still early days for Peter; however, he is no novice when it comes to playing an active role at this level in the organisation. This is the third time he has been asked to serve on the SBE Faculty Board, in the 24 years he has been at SBE. He brings a wealth of experience to the role and a clear notion of our raison d’être.
A wealth of experience
Prof. dr. Schotman’s own research extends across various fields, including pensions and finance. As head of the master’s research programme, he also has acquired considerable expertise when it comes to understanding research policy. He is able to draw on this experience in training and supporting the SBE researchers from different angles. “I see myself very much as a facilitator,” he says.
Bringing disciplines together
“Much has changed since my last time on the board,” Schotman explains. “Then, the trend towards external funding was just beginning. Now, there is a real need to acquire outside funding. There are different ways of doing this, and we are developing new initiatives to attract funding on both a large and small scale. These initiatives require careful coordination, to ensure a fit with our existing organisation. We’re currently organised in departments, but some of the new initiatives are interdepartmental, so we need to work across traditional boundaries and become more multidisciplinary. That said, we will still need to ensure we retain real specialists in each field.”
Making use of our networks
“Our researchers have their own networks. My role is to bring the different contacts together, to facilitate the process. This will make it easier to obtain funding for our research.” International links are also very important for research at SBE. “My periods in Stockholm and in the US have also been advantageous in helping us see things from another perspective. After all, as we have seen all too clearly over recent years, business and economics are fields without international boundaries.”
Our raison d’être: the continued need for fundamental research
There is a clear trend away from stand-alone, fundamental research towards more applied research. “I see a need for a combination of both,” says Schotman. “There is definitely still a need for fundamental research. The new insights are essential as the backbone for any applied research. Fortunately, there are ERC an NWO grants available for such work, although researchers do have to explain the potential impact of their results. At the same time, publications and citations continue to form the basis of our long-term academic reputation. I believe this approach to balancing fundamental and applied research will ensure our work will continue to create value for society in both the short and the longer term.”
A good example
Some of Schotman’s own research over the past 10 years has been in pensions. “This is definitely a field in which you can see the value of fundamental research. The Dutch Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement (NESPAR) is forcing discussion between researchers, regulators and pension funds, so our research results are playing an important role in forming Dutch policy making. And in turn, projects and discussions have led to new ideas for further research. Fortunately, in his new role, Schotman still has some time for his own research. “I think pensions will be on the agenda for some time. There is still a great deal to be done in this area,” he concludes.
Read more about Prof. Schotman in the UM Expert Guide.