In a guest lecture on 23 November, second-year International Business students at SBE had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Jan Peter Balkenende, a prominent figure in fostering sustainable business practices.
Balkenende served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 22 July 2002 until 14 October 2010, after which he became Partner Corporate Sustainability at EY, as well as a Professor of Governance, Institutions and Internationalisation at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Balkenende is also the co-founder of the Dutch Sustainable Growth Coalition, a collaboration of eight Dutch multinationals focused on jointly driving and promoting sustainable growth business models.
Balkenende delivered his guest lecture as part of a course in Global Business. The emphasis, according to course co-coordinator Hans Kasper, was to offer the students some perspective on the current developments that may impact the world in which they study and will later work.
Kasper says he wanted to focus more attention on issues of social responsibility when developing the course. “I think, given especially the results of the US election and the Brexit referendum, that it is an important issue to include,” Kasper says. “Mr Balkenende was willing to come and reflect on developments in the world that might impact international business.”
Among these developments are discussions on protectionism, on introducing tariff barriers and trade barriers. “We see on one hand a lot of businesses wanting to be more international, more global,” Kasper says. “But also companies have to take much more into account where are they are getting things produced and in what way.”
Kasper stressed that the lecture was not about taking a political stand, but on sharing experience and perspective in the business world. “We need to focus on developments, on what’s going on, and perhaps also in our teaching we have been focusing too much on the advantages of globalisation and not enough on possible drawbacks,” he says. “It’s good to have a balanced view, and Balkenende was able to give such a balanced perspective.”