Constructive Disagreement

Sustainability and digitalisation have played a major role in all kind of discussions at business schools. New research institutes emerged studying how businesses could become more digital and sustainable while other scholars looked at the effects of digitalisation and policies fostering sustainability. New specific programmes teaching sustainability and digitalisation were designed and in almost every programme one finds specific courses on those two topics, as in the MaastrichtMBA programme, where the Online MBA specialisation just finished a course on digitalisation, while the February week in the On-Campus MBA specialisation offers two electives on ‘Sustainability and Business Ethics’ and on ‘Digital Management’.


Both themes have for sure not lost importance, but a new theme is emerging or rather re-emerging: (geo)politics. With the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 we believed that old systematic differences in value priorities had been overcome and everybody would cooperate on a path towards global prosperity and welfare. This hope had faded. Today’s reality is:

  • Rising tensions between Russia and the Western World, most visible in Ukraine and at its borders.
  • Rising tensions between China and its Asian and Pacific neighbours.
  • Income and welfare gap between the Northern and Southern hemisphere hardly diminished.


I am not expecting that these differences will be overcome in the short- and medium term, but I believe these differences can be managed and contained. Withdrawing to autarchic regional systems is not really an option as it neglects that we live on one globe that cannot be divided. Luckily globalisation and international trade has moved us closer to each other and increased mutual dependencies. Thus gaining a better understanding and more experiences on international relations, diplomacy and foreign policy as well as international trade will prove useful in creating and maintaining fruitful relations across geographic and mental borders.


What we need to re-learn is how we can still partially co-operate with each other despite strongly disagreeing on certain other issues. Being true to your values while also taking yourself back is not an easy exercise. Thus my personal New Year’s resolution is “Learn to be more constructive in disagreement.”



Yours MBA Captain Boris

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