Vice Dean, Director
Institute for Management Research
Radboud University Nijmegen
Field: Research Innovation
Following his adage, “Creating knowledge for society,” Allard van Riel pursued a career in academia, becoming the vice dean and director of the Institute for Management Research of the Radboud University Nijmegen, situated in the oldest city in the Netherlands. With an interest in improving and developing new services, Dr. van Riel obtained a chair position with the university and established a department based on such services. He progressed into the vice dean position and has been developing it for the past three years.
Dr. van Riel possesses expertise in a variety of subjects, including research innovation and teaching, and in his current position, he organizes and writes policies for the organization of human resources, teaches marketing and solicits for external funding. He also oversees 140 researchers. Dr. van Riel’s main goal is to bring together experts from different disciplines to address issues of high societal relevance. He is currently gathering doctors and individuals from different public administrations to devise new business models together that are much more efficient and effective. “I am trying to make steps forward in this area,” he says.
Dr. van Riel first earned a master’s degree in philosophy knowledge theory at the University of Amsterdam, and then in 2003, he graduated from Maastricht University with a Ph.D. in Service Innovation. The author of 25 publications, he maintains affiliation with the Academy of Management, a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of management and administration. He also sponsors small entrepreneurs in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, located in West Africa. Dr. van Riel attributes his success to his hard work and watching for opportunities. As the years progress, he intends to assist in the future development of the Institute for Management Research. He also aspires to become well-known for his focus on social management studies and social innovation services.
Conversation with Allard van Riel
Worldwide Publishing: On what topics do you consider yourself to be an expert?
Allard van Riel: I am working on bringing [a] multidisciplinary [approach] to research, which means bringing together experts from different disciplines to address issues of high societal relevance.
What characteristics help to separate you from your competitors?
What helps me is that I have a multidisciplinary background, and I have studied dentistry, philosophy and I worked in business for a long time. I think that has opened up my mind to understand things happening at the crossroads of disciplines. I can see areas for collaboration [and] innovation that helps me to bring people together.
What motivates you?
I want to make research more relevant, and I am very against people sitting in their office and only focusing on top publications without making their results available to the public. I believe in science making a contribution to a better world.
What lessons have you learned as a professional in your field?
Never give up — continue in what you are doing and you will find others who are enthusiastic about making science relevant and building coalitions.
What short-term and long-term career goals are you currently pursuing?
We have just gone through an evaluation at the institute and we have received feedback that is very encouraging, but there were also some suggestions for the future. I really want to continue to develop the institute in the direction that we choose a couple of years ago and make it one of the best in the world.
How do you plan to achieve these goals?
One of the most challenging things at the moment is bringing in really monodisciplinary [approaches].
What are some questions that an individual interested in your services can ask to ensure a more productive relationship?
They can find an example, and ask me: Should I do what you did? They can also find their own root into life, and ask: What science should I study? Be good at what you’re doing and be open to others.
Did you ever consider pursuing a different career path or another profession?
Yes, I was in business for 15 years, but I decided to go into academia. I wanted to make a contribution to society rather than to one single business. I wanted to better understand the problems that businesses were facing. I could make a bigger contribution in the university.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your profession?
People in many different positions in society appreciate the effort of bringing together people in different areas. You need more than one person to solve problems.
What is your favorite or least favorite work-related task to do and why?
I really enjoy working with young people and preparing them for complex challenges.
What advice can you offer fellow members or others aspiring to work in your industry?
Work hard and be open to other ideas and other cultures because you can always learn something.
Who have been your mentors or people who have greatly influenced you?
My biggest influence was my supervisor, Lemmink Yoss, who was The Dean of Faculty where I did my Ph.D. He was always a very open person and very inspiring.
The second person who influenced me a lot was the Director of the University of Liege, Willy Legros. He is currently a political advisor.
What changes have you observed in your industry/field since you started?
Many people in my field realize that we are interdependent; we are dependent on what’s going on in other fields. There has been a historical development in companies, and marketing used to be more important tool than it is today.