Prof. Juliette Koning

Juliette Koning is Professor of Business in Society and has a social science background. Her research interests include entrepreneurship, private security organisations, and leadership and ethics. As of September 1, 2021, Juliette has been assigned as SBEs Head of Department at Organisation, Strategy and Entrepreneurship (OSE).

 

Before joining Maastricht University, Juliette Koning worked for ten years at the Business School of Oxford Brookes University (UK) and held academic posts at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Tilburg University and Wageningen University. Juliette is also Associate Editor of Human Relations.

 

Juliette is involved in the MaastrichtMBA programme as lecturer in the MBA module on Sustainability & Business Ethics of our On-Campus track.

WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION WITH MAASTRICHT?

It is a fairly recent connection as it only started a couple of months ago when I joined the School of Business and Economics (SBE) as Professor of Business in Society and Head of the Organisation, Strategy and Entrepreneurship Department. I have to say, though, Maastricht has definitely grown on me already.

WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO BECOME A PROFESSOR AT MAASTRICHT UNIVERSITY?

There were several features that attracted me to join SBE and Maastricht University: the focus on grand challenges (spearheads), working towards social and societal impact, a drive to co-create knowledge with business and organisations, and the work that is underway in terms of diversifying academic careers (Recognition & Rewards). Leading a department that houses three really core subjects in the wider busines and management field poses an additional extraordinary motivation. Last, but definitely not least is Maastricht’s unique Problem Based Learning approach. Exploring how to best contribute to these exciting developments together with my new colleagues, is the greatest motivation.

WHAT IS YOUR ROLE WITHIN THE ON-CAMPUS MBA TRACK OF THE MAASTRICHTMBA PROGRAMME?

I will be one of the teaching faculty in the upcoming On-Campus MBA educational week on Sustainability & Business Ethics. It will be my first engagement with the MaastrichtMBA programme and I look forward to working everyone involved.

YOU WILL BE ONE OF THE LECTURERS FOR THE NEXT ON-CAMPUS MBA EDUCATIONAL WEEK ON SUSTAINABILITY AND BUSINESS ETHICS. CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR LESSONS DURING THIS COURSE?

My research has a strong non-Western focus and I think it can also be illuminating to discuss business leadership and ethics, and grand challenges such as sustainability and security in other parts of the world, in class. There are no easy solutions; most problems are complex with those involved looking at it through their own lens. I am a firm believer in understanding problems before thinking about solutions and to not run away from the addressing the complexity of these questions.

 

This might require other ways of unpacking problems. I like to use arts-based methods for instance and I will share this in class. In addition, I will draw on my research experiences in Indonesia and South Africa to offer alternative perspectives. As anthropologists (which I am by training) tend to say, studying other cultures tells us often a lot about our own culture. As said, I hope to offer alternative perspectives, that’s often my drive.

SINCE THE CURRENT CRISIS WE ARE FACING HAS LOCKED DOWN THE WORLD, ORGANISATIONS CHANGED RAPIDLY. HOW DO YOU THINK THIS NEW WORLD WILL BE FOR THE NEXT FEW YEARS ON THE TOPIC OF SUSTAINABILITY AND BUSINESS ETHICS?

It is an open door, but the future is difficult to predict. I guess the question to ask is, what is our role as academics and business leaders in constructing a ‘new’ world, where we act more sustainable and more responsible? Clearly the impact has been (and still is) huge and we had to adapt how we do things but at the same time we have to admit that the major problems (poverty, security, sustainability, health) are still there, we only have to look at the distribution of vaccines to realise nothing much has changed in terms of power and inequality.

 

As to change in organisations, I am not so sure yet; the impact of the crisis on individual careers for instance is slow to be addressed. We might have adapted using technology and other means to ‘keep’ working but we have to ask whether we actually took time to explore in more detail how we responded and with what intended and unintended consequences. In short, I would question how ‘new’ our world actually is. Interesting research topic though.

AND WHAT ARE YOUR LESSONS LEARNED DURING THIS CRISIS?

Again, no straightforward answer from me here, sorry. What we witness is the loss of life and increased vulnerability, but also demonstrations of resilience, adaptation and creativity. I am intrigued by the various ways in which people and businesses cope with the situation, how governments struggle, and how society is divided. However, I fear that it is too early to tell what lessons will be learned. It seem there is a great longing to ‘go back’ to ‘how it was’; maybe we should ask, what does this tell us? Again, I would be interested to find out.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY PROUD OF PROFESSIONALLY?

I do not think in terms of being proud, but if you would pressure me I would say: the fact that I went my own way. Looking back, I never really planned my career. I like change and challenges which took me criss-crossing countries, disciplines, and universities. Mid-way through my ‘academic career’, I moved from social anthropology into business and management, and I spent the last ten years working for a UK Business School after various roles in Dutch universities.

 

I can only say that I feel very lucky that I have been able to experience all this, collaborating with so many great colleagues and working with such diverse student bodies; it has been an amazing journey and I’d do it all over again. It is this journey that brought me to Maastricht as the starting point of a new stretch in this continuing road-trip. I draw on all of my experiences and impressions to contribute to the ambitions of my new department, school, and university.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE SOMETHING PERSONAL WITH THE READERS?

Ha, that’s a good one – I am a huge fan of Patti Smith, punk icon but above all a great poet, author, and musician. She still rock’s on stage, really fantastic. But I also enjoy classical music and concerts. That sums it up quite nicely; I do not really fit into a box, and I like it that way. If you don’t fit into one box….do not try to squeeze yourself in!

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