Dean’s corner

words from the dean at lusem

Welcome to the Dean’s corner! This is where our Dean Mats Benner gives you the latest from his perspective. With new posts communicated in LUSEM Staff News you will always be up-to-date with Mats. 

23 November 2021

”The Academy is a complex place where many different forces and motivations co-exist, not always easily. Continue reading below...

One is the painstaking patience that lie behind the achievements that are so seemingly smoothly crowned in completed courses, funded projects and other achievements. Speaking of which, this is the time of year when research funders announce their outcomes. LUSEM is unproportionality successful in national competition for funding, and our portfolio of external grants is both deep (with many large-scale grants along with project support) and broad, with a notable presence throughout the school’s portfolio.  2021 is no exception to this, as the observant reader of the staff pages will have noted. We take great pride in all the achievements that our researchers have had, in securing grants, showing the significance, novelty and impact of their research. To enable this, and to top up some of the achievements, the faculty can be supportive, and this is a role that we take very seriously – to enable and motivate the bottom-up initiatives that are the foundation for all we do. But without the efforts of our faculty no strategy or ambition would be possible. It is the foundation for faculty management and will continue to be so.”

10 November 2021

”What are brands for? LUSEM is some twenty years old as an independent faculty and business school in its own right within Lund University...Continue reading below...

...and it is of vital importance–necessity even–for us to consider what we communicate to the world, and to ourselves. If we do not consider what we communicate, we will be communicating anyway but perhaps not what we think we want to be identified with. A great opportunity to consider and reflect on our brand and our identity is forthcoming on Monday, when Mats Urde, from business administration and world-renowned for his work on corporate identity, affords his view on what LUSEM stands for in the world and to ourselves. A brand is of course not an island or something that can be conjured up to impress the world, it reflects what we do, how we do it, and with whom we do it. It should be trustworthy and resilient, and represent long-lasting values, virtues and convictions. If we do not take the issue of our brand seriously, others will. It is about taking charge of our own destiny and future, which is not an insignificant task, but something that a school of our standing should take on readily and intellectually honestly. So, tune in on Monday’s event and take part in shaping our identity and future directions.”

27 October 2021

”A recurrent theme in conversations with both faculty at LUSEM and with stakeholders beyond academia is collaboration, between subject areas, and between academicians and society at large. Continue reading below...

The motives behind this engagement is manifold: new scientific frontiers are often opened in-between fields rather than within them, and impulses from society are often intellectually enriching. (the opposite applies for both of course, but collaboration tends to sharpen minds and ambition). To further entice you as LUSEM members to venture into the collaborative mode, the faculty management has launched an initiative to form interdiscipinary groupsing centred around societal challenges. Take the opportunity to explore possible avenues for collaboration! And, while we are at it, take the oppportunity to address the strategic direction of the School. At the time of publishing, the first seminar on our strategic orientation, with Anna Jonsson, has already passed, but another opportunity is ensuing, when LUSEM and its position and identity in the world, with brand expert Mats Urde as presenter, is forthcoming in November. Let’s work together in making LUSEM a place of learning and change, for the betterment of humankind.” 

12 October 2021

”It's that time of year when economics is in the air. As a school we are taken pride in shaping the understanding of pertinent issues in our respective fields, evidenced though the role that members of our faculty plays in the process of selecting Nobel laureates in economics. Continue reading below...

As is seen in this newsletter, this year's prizes stress the role that economic knowledge has in understanding effects of interventions in different fields - where economics really make a difference and where there is urgent need of evidence. It is also, which is also highlighted in this issue, the time of year when new professors are installed, and it is a testimony to the breadth of our school that the two new professors have made core contributions in understanding regional disparities in growth and employment and the role of pan-European regulation for economic development. There are two of the most pressing issues in our time, when the future of European integration and the consequences of social and economic inequality  shape political agendas.

There is a lot of talk about grand challenges and how universities should contribute to the resolution of those. Some of this may appear vacuous. We on our side take great pride in being a change agent, in highlighting how economic knowledge actually can make a difference.” 

28 September 2021

”External engagement is at the core of our school. This fall will see enhanced engagement in  our external relations, in a variety of forms. Corporate connections have a special assignment with one of the School's institutes, the Institute for Innovation Management which is eloquently presented by Thomas Kalling in this staff news, and the activities therein will be even more profiled this semester and beyond. Continue reading below...

The other institutes also play significant roles in their respective areas, in engaging with the public sector and its challenges (INSPA) and opportunities and the regulation of environmental affairs on the market and in society more broadly for LISI. The institutes have just begun and will make their mark even more in coming months. The Partnership foundation (Partnerskapet) has historically been a major interface for companies to engage in our education and research, and for faculty to meet with and be supported by external partners. it will benefit from the ongoing recruitment of a director of external engagement, who will align the foundation with work done elsewhere in the dean's office. A variety of other activities are ongoing, I have for instance the privilege to serve as LUSEM's representative in the steering group of a so-called strategic partnership with Tetra Pak, and this will most likely yield opportunities for collaborations with one of the region's most important companies in both education and research. We never compromise with out integrity but we do not hesitate either to engage with stakeholders - for the benefit of them and ourselves. We are an outgoing school, this is our heritage and we should make every effort to retain and refine it. "

14 September 2021

"We live in a world of profiles and priorities to make an impact, and universities are not exempted from this. We can no longer reside in the comfort of doing 'everything, equally well'. We need to describe what we do particularly well, and how we do it. Continue reading below...

In the last research bill of the Swedish government, the issue came to the fore with the introduction of so called profile areas, where Swedish universities are expected to formulate areas where they are particularly strong, in research but also with adjacent excellence in education and outreach. Thus triggers the question: How should Lund University profile itself? And what does LUSEM do in this? The work on formulating profile areas begun already in the spring but is now taking another step, under the auspices of the university leadership but with all faculties engaged. For this we as LUSEM faculty and staff need to sharpen our understanding – who are we? Where do we excel? And with whom do we excel, as profile areas are expected to span faculty borders? 

These and other issues are on the table as we speak, and we as faculty leadership welcome any inputs into the process. Another opportunity will arise in about a month’s time when all faculty and staff are welcome to a seminar on the future strategy of our school – an opportunity to discuss where we should be heading, with whom and in which way. Exciting times!"

31 August 2021

"Welcome back after this summer, with so many opportunities to reflect on our way of living and working, in the world, for the world... The fall promises to be an opportunity for reinvigoration, of our work modes, ways of interaction, ways of aligning with the world. Continue reading below...

You will hear lots from the management team and from all the activities in the school. Suffice to say that this semester will be like none in our history, with the return to campus which has already started (read more in the LUSEM Staff News on the students' return and start of the semester), new strategic directions for the school, an overhaul of our ways of recruiting and retaining staff, and lots more. The format of our communication will also be expanded, and we will move from the dean's corner to the deans' corner, a small but not insignificant change... Stay tuned.

And on a personal note, and as a reflection of the intersection between the private and the public: While everyone must make their own choice, vaccinations seem to be key to a more viable future. You can take it for free, during office hours. Please consider this opportunity.

Welcome back, again, let's make this a fall to remember!"

15 June 2021

"We live in interesting times. After a decade of more or less uninterrupted growth of university funding and remits, we are now at a watershed. The last year has seen a massive increase in short-term and earmarked programmes in teaching and in research, possibly to the detriment of long-term and stable funding at our own disposal. This serves as an indication that future funding and missions will reflect priorities and ambitions set outside the university to a far greater degree than before. Continue reading below...

Universities therefore need to be proactive, now more than ever, and formulate their own ambitions and goals to meet the increasing political propensity to intervene in how universities teach and do research. This holds true for Lund University and LUSEM as well. LUSEM is prepared to take part in such a profiling and in the formulation of the broad mission of a university. Breadth will always be Lund University’s premier identity, but this is sometimes forgotten when all the the talk about the University circles around large-scale facilities or research centres in fashionable areas. Important as they may be, they only cover parts of the experience and remit of Lund University. LUSEM brings to the table a unique proximity between students, teachers, administration and external partners, a true Lund learning experience. Such an experience must be part of the University’s offer to profile itself. And we will ensure that we will be central in future formulations of the university’s profile and missions. LUSEM has a good story to tell, both of our accomplishments so far and our future ambitions. 

With that I wish you a relaxing summer, and very much look forward to welcoming you back – with the usual disclaimers – to campus in the fall, a fall that promises to be festive and fruitful!"

1 June 2021

"As summer slowly but surely announces its arrival with the promises of rest and rejuvenation, questions might arise regarding the season that inevitably will succeed it. How should we think about the fall? Continue reading below...

There is a flurry of announcements now, from the government, from the university and also from many other sources. As of now, the position is clear, we continue as before until late August in the predominantly digital and distanced mode. And a degree of caution is certainly called for as we still know only little of the dynamics of the pandemic and how it might play out in the coming months. 

But one way or the other, the fall will be quite different from the spring and from last year. It will be tangible and in the presence, and this is an opportunity to reignite our interaction. Most likely, there is an urge and a longing for shared experiences in real life. One of the key ambitions of the faculty leadership is to facilitate collaboration, with external partners of course, but also internally. We will experiment with novel ways of  interaction and sharing experiences between different parts and groups in the school. You will experience this in the form of public engagements and seminars, and in festivities where we cherish our environment. And mind you, there is reason to celebrate, not only because of the opening up but also in the fact that we as a faculty within Lund University turn 60 this year. The motives for the propelled interaction are not purely social but also intellectual: there is much to be gained from collaboration and for joining forces in matters large and small. We are a social school, and it is high time to think how we might channel that energy into new ways of meeting and learning from one another."

18 May 2021

”We get by with a little help from our friends. These eternal lines are valid not last for business schools like ours. As a school, we are fortunate to have an environment that is supportive and engaged in what we do, and willing to back up that interest with financial commitments, openness to collaboration, and engagement in teaching and research. Continue reading below...

A heated debate is currently ongoing concerning business schools and their dependence on external support, especially when it comes from companies, foundations and private benefactors. And it is indeed a balancing act to engage in fundraising, where interests must be disclosed – what does collaboration and donations entail? We on our side are fortunate to be largely publicly funded, which gives us the financial backbone to formulate our own goals and directions, and not be subjected to the vagaries of the market. However, external support is vital, sometimes even essential, to top up public funding. If managed well, it can be of great mutual reward. Again, we need to be clear about our values and expectations when we engage with external sponsors and benefactors. 

Our work with our friends and supporters will be even further revitalized in the coming years. One example is the Partnership foundation, which gives us a network of collaborators and opportunities to tie students and teachers to companies, and vice versa. We are also exploring opportunities to refine collaboration in specific areas, for instance regarding economic sustainability and financial stability. This will enable us to explore new avenues of teaching and research, and form alliances with social interests in so doing. Such explorations could well be, to use another immortal line, the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

4 May 2021

”Our school is quite unique among Lund University’s nine faculties, by being compact and integrated. We sit in close proximity and our subjects intersect. We have a shared commitment and engagement in educating students in a broad yet delimited area. In our work, we all articulate with the economy in a wide sense. Continue reading below...

Nevertheless, proximity and mutual obligations are not in themselves sufficient to drive collaboration and exchange. For that, a culture and a practice of sharing and collaborating is needed, articulating and representing a 'we' that extends beyond individual ambition and identity. 

As a school, we have a unique opportunity to propel that collaborative sentiment and practice when we return to campus in the fall, when interaction will take on physical forms again. 

To prepare for this, the school management has already begun to take intiatives to profile us as one unit, and more will come. The three institutes that have been incepted aim to operate beyond boundaries, and profile LUSEM’s collective voice and ambition in a volatile environment. Our ways of utilizing digital forums for education, research and collaboration will be further refined, to prepare for a future where the physical and the digital will be blended. 

We have also begun looking into how we may make our physical campus more coherent and supportive of meetings and interaction. Enhanced cross-disciplinary collaboration and topics-driven interaction, with stakeholders and representatives of different areas of the School, are also something that we will see more of in the future. Overall, we should be even better at engaging students, staff and faculty in setting joint goals and ambitions for the School. 

It is all rather simple –LUSEM should be shaped by inclusion, diversity and engagement in everything we do. Only so can we live up to our goal: of making a difference."

20 April 2021

”What is the business of business schools? This is of critical importance for a school that teaches and researches on the efficacy and legitimacy of organizations. One central part is how we allocate resources that we get from the state, via the University centrally (sometimes called floor funding or institutional support). This amounts to about 200 million Swedish kronor annually for education and almost 90 million Swedish kronor for research. Continue reading below...

Currently, the model for education is rather straightforward, but some reallocations are made to cater for specific needs that pertain to our school: internationalization, programmes at advanced levels, and life-long learning are among those. For research, resource distribution is based on a combination of the number of professors, number of students, PhDs awarded, publication output, and external grants, to allow for both stability and dynamics. 

It is essential that our own allocation system gives the right incentives and provides motivation for great efforts. Hence, the design and outcomes of the models are issues that must be monitored and discussed: do they stimulate recruitments, external grant seeking, the formation of strong networks and high-impact publications in research, and renewal and quality in education? 

It is as important to expand our financial foundation, and to build on opportunities and networks that reside outside of the School. Tuition fee-paying students is one such category for education, as is commissioned education. For research, external grants form a core source of expansion of research and PhD training, and one of the key challenges for the School is widen and deepen our external support. Another resides in donations and external alliances of different sorts, an area in which business schools have been very active; ours included. 

The business of business schools is therefore more multifaceted that one might surmise: to perform topical and trustworthy education, and do research that expand knowledge frontiers and that also aligns with broad tendencies in society. To be an eminent business school, we must therefore be prepared to do many things at the same time – and distribute resources in a way which enables that balancing act. Complex and challenging, indeed, but also rewarding, for a business school that wants to improve the world."

7 April 2021

”What’s in a word? The term 'institute' has many associations. At LUSEM, institutes are initiatives to mark the presence of LUSEM in areas of topicality and societal importance. 

In 2021, three such institutes have been launched, funded from the dean’s designated budget, and decided on an annual basis. Continue reading below...

The aim is that this funding will be leveraged by external support and recognition, and that it will reinvigorate activities within the School. Internal and external added value are key deliverables, in the form of collaborative ventures with external stakeholders, of events and seminars, and in other activities of high visibility and impact. 

The institutes also serve as an experiment in organizational variation. They may proliferate, may change, or be terminated. They do not supersede or collide with departments and research centres; they instead function as additional measures for swift and decisive responses to areas that span disciplinary and organizational boundaries. 

The three institutes serve as a beginning. One covers public affairs, how common interests are articulated and managed by the state and public organizations. Another covers sustainability, and how business and economics affect, and are affected by, the adjustments and adaptations that the climate crisis brings with it. Yet another cover innovation, how economies change and transform, and how firms evolve and adapt in a transient economy. 

Thus, LUSEM institutes shall serve as catalysts for our core activities. Their exact form will vary, and they will have different foci. They are all tokens of the overarching ambition of LUSEM to make a difference. For real."

22 March 2021

”It is sometimes said that culture eats strategy for breakfast. And indeed, lofty strategies often fall flat when they meet the realities of organizational life. That does not mean that strategies are necessarily mere distractions. At best, they set directions and provide instruments and conditions to meet them. Yet, devising a strategy is, as is well known in an expert environment like LUSEM, an intricate matter. To make sense, a strategy must align with current position, potential movement, available resources, and future ambitions. Continue reading below...

Lund University has a ten-year strategy (2017-2026), which emphasizes a number of critical elements: that education and research shall meet the highest standards and be intertwined, that societal challenges shall be addressed, that eminent study environments be provided, and that we shall achieve this through credible leadership and excellent working conditions. LUSEM is now in the process of revising its strategy, to align with Lund University’s broad ambitions and to articulate the School’s own directions. The faculty board will decide on the strategy in December this year, and many activities will be pursued to ensure that the strategy takes into account both internal and external conditions. One part of that is an internal audit that will be commenced soon, where Anna Jonsson (from Department of Business Administration) will conduct a series of conversations with a randomly selected number of LUSEM staff about our work environment, sense of identity and belonging, what the School means and does, as well as what we can learn from each other (both at a collegial level and between departments) to make better use of our organization. Such an audit will be salient in our efforts to ensure that LUSEM is a world-class school. I hope that you will take your time to share your ideas and thoughts on how we as a business school can further improve!"

9 March 2021

”It has been a little more than two months since I became dean of the School and took over faculty leadership together with Maria Stanfors, Anna Thomasson, Ulf Johansson and Alf Rosenbäck. It has been an exciting and slightly overwhelming time. Continue reading below...

First and foremost it has been a true source of joy to get to learn faculty, staff, students and stakeholders – in the midst of a pandemic that circumvents traditional ways of interacting. Second, it is daunting but also encouraging to begin forming a conception of the school, and how we might evolve into the future. Third it has been very rewarding in all senses of the word to be part in the accreditation visit of AACSB, where we, after almost seven years of preparations, finally had the chance to show what we are and what we can do. In all of this, I have been struck by the firm dedication of all the people of LUSEM, in all its variety, to share and to contribute, to be part of a learning environment, and to mobilize even more efforts and resources when the world has been turned upside down.

Spring will see the commencement of work to form a new strategy for LUSEM, a strategy that will reflect the realities and aims of the school and its staff and those engaged in what we do. The school has also launched a number of initiatives to highlight our engagement with important issues in society, and we will continue to uphold and raise ambitions in education, research and external engagement. A major issue will be to formulate the lessons of Covid and the enforced digitalization and what we should learn from them when we return. It is a sincere pleasure and source of pride to serve as the dean of such a vibrant and daring environment. It’s nothing if not lively at LUSEM – no pandemic can curve that. "


Mats Benner
Professor, Dean
Phone: +46 46–222 76 20