Prof. Dr. Caren Sureth is Head of Chair of Business Economics, esp. Taxation at University of Paderborn, Germany. She is President of VHB – Verband der Hochshullehrer fur Betriebswirtschaft
Di Donatella Depperu – email@example.com
Could you briefly describe your association?
The VHB (German Academic Association for Business Research) pursues the development of business administration as an academic discipline at universities (http://vhbonline.org/en/startpage/). The main objective of the association is to foster research and education in business administration, as well as to provide a platform for members, practitioners, and domestic and foreign institutions with similar objectives.
The VHB was founded on 26th November 1921 after a series of informal meetings and celebrated its 90’s birthday just a few months ago. The first meeting of university professors took place during Whitsun 1914 in Leipzig, Germany. The development of the German Academic Association for Business Research and the establishment of business administration as an academic subject in the German-speaking areas go hand in hand, which is proven by the contributions in the book, “Geschichte des VHB und Geschichten zum VHB”, edited by the VHB and coordinated by Wolfgang Burr and Alfred Wagenhofer.
More recently, the association has taken extraordinary steps towards a stronger international orientation. The association was actively involved in the foundation of the International Federation of Academics of Management (IFSAM [http://www.ifsam.org]) during its annual meeting in Frankfurt in 1990 and is one of its founding members.
We are cooperating with several associations in our neighbour countries and discuss topics that are crucial for all of us. Indeed, AIDEA (Italy), EURAM, IAM (Ireland), NFF (Nordic countries), SMF (France), contributed to our annual conferences in last years as well as this year in Bozen with a valuable ongoing exchange of ideas. The majority of papers, undergoing a double-blind peer review process, is presented in English (more than 80%) making the conference attractive to international submitters and participants.
Today the association counts 2050 members.
The launch and further development of communication through newsletters and the internet platform, as well as regular events with discussion forums on research strategies, funding, and teaching have proven to be important measures for the scientific dialogue among members. The association’s website has been continuously upgraded to include more interactive elements, thereby providing a platform for up-to-date information, exchange, and discussion.
In 2008, the VHB has successfully established the open access journal ‘BuR – Business Research’ (BuR). BuR is a worldwide-accessible open electronic journal that publishes articles in five areas of business research: accounting, finance, management, marketing, and operations & information systems. Members of the VHB, as well as the general public, have free access to the BuR website under http://www.business-research.org/. The website hosts all articles and supplemented material, that can be downloaded for free.
Every researcher is welcome to submit articles along with supplementary material following our submission guidelines. All manuscripts are subject to a double-blind review process designed to maintain the top quality of our published articles. Authors publishing in BuR are read worldwide and have their articles listed in international databases.
How is research assessed in your country? Who is in charge of the assessment?
Under the German federal system and autonomous German universities the assessment differs very much among the Federal States (Bundesländer) and the universities. You can observe measurement of research outcome using intensive (internal or external, partially chaired by governmental organizations etc.) peer review processes relying on publications, supported by journal lists, impact factors, and on statistics on third party funding, number of conferrals of doctorates and a several other indicators.
What are the activities that your association does in relation to research assessment? Does your association have a journal list?
We have the journal list VHB-JOURQUAL (http://vhbonline.org/en/service/jourqual/vhb-jourqual-21-2011/), which includes European journals and journals from the German speaking countries form all fields of business research. It lists a ranking of journals relevant to business research based on evaluations by VHB’s members. VHB-JOURQUAL is accompanied by a letter of the executive committee of VHB stating that ranks or ratings of journals do not necessarily imply identical quality of a single paper in the journal and that there are differences among subjects in the tradition of evaluating different journals. Thereby and for other reasons rankings have to be used with care, are to be regarded as a supportive means only but cannot substitute reading papers of researchers to assess individual quality.
We discuss how to improve our ranking/rating on our annual conference and use the past discussion in the development of JOURQUAL 3, which will be released in 2013. Additionally, we have vivid panel discussions on how we can avoid research activities being narrowed by inappropriate measures, by only using one measure and thus by inadequate use of such instruments.
What would you like to do to support your members’ research activities in the next future?
As the academic competition has become increasingly stiff in recent years and is set to intensify further in the next future, VHB offers the doctoral courses program ProDok (http://vhbonline.org/en/events/the-doctoral-programme/). Doctoral students first have to develop knowledge in the relevant theories and methodological expertise – especially if they harbour academic ambitions. While the structured doctoral programmes now being offered at many universities provide an outstanding basic education, they are largely unable to impart the necessary specialist knowledge in all departments due to the heterogeneity of the subject-specific demands. ProDok cannot and is not intended to be a full training programme for doctoral students. But with ProDok, the VHB aims to make it easier for its doctoral students to succeed in the international research competition.
ProDok complements the faculties’ activities in qualifying young scientists specifically by offering highly specialised courses in accounting, finance, management, marketing, and operations & information systems that would not work at individual universities due to a lack of resources or demand.
Every spring the VHB offers a workshop addressing topical issues in organizing and structuring research. Main target is to support members in applying for research funds and organization of research activities of different scale.
VHB also organizes an annual Conference with more than 100 presentations and several panel discussions on recent topics in research, teaching, and challenges of business administration in practice and politics.
In addition, there will be included awards for best paper, young researchers’ best paper, best conference paper, and best conference practice paper of the year.