New academic chair researches organisational behaviour and culture

A new academic chair that aims to actively contribute to knowledge of culture and management has been created at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). Dr Gabriele Jacobs has been appointed as Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Culture in the new chair, which is endowed by the Erasmus Trustfonds (Erasmus Trust Fund).

Professor Jacobs is also co-director of CESAM, which she co-founded in 2014, and which has two research streams: investigating the role of emerging technologies for the management of public safety, and the role of identity for organisational and inter-organisational practices to support public safety.


Behaviour and culture

Knowledge of cultural differences and dynamics within organisations and their surrounding environments is essential in the current heterogeneous environment for business management, with high social, economic, environmental, legal and political diversity. The quick and massive movements of money, goods and people around the world has gained tremendous speed, and has challenged traditional perspectives. “Technology has even redefined what is ‘local’ and what is ‘remote’,” says Professor Jacobs. “Today’s managers need to be able to understand disparate markets, to integrate contradicting stakeholder expectations, to manage diverse teams and to adapt to quickly changing and novel situations.”


Managing societal challenges

“In the context of globalisation, societies are facing social challenges that are growing in scale and sophistication and reaching from social unrest, mass migration and polarisation to organised crime. This high complexity in the business environment requires new solutions. So there is a major transformation of business thinking. Companies are increasingly expected to take their responsibility in social and environmental issues and to co-create innovative solutions with partners from the public sector.”

The backbone of market economies and free democracies therefore relies on a prerequisite for the safety for the emergence and maintenance of property rights. The interconnectedness of challenges to safety become especially visible in a city like Rotterdam, with its harbour of European and global logistical importance and its ethnically diverse population. Here, safety considerations apply to man-made risks such as environmental disasters from oil, gas or toxic leaks, or from organised crime such as drugs or human trafficking. They also apply to natural disasters such as flooding, which can have severe effects on important infrastructures ‒ with far-reaching economic consequences.

“In the face of increasingly complex business interdependencies with diverse stakeholders, the public sector deserves more systematic research attention from business schools than it received so far,” says Professor Jacobs.

Her research centre, CESAM, already offers expertise in the evaluation of large-scale, strategic organisational changes, the management of international collaborations, and stakeholder management. It delivers innovative business-driven research into public safety.

Connecting the unconnected

CESAM has promoted co-creation by connecting groups and stakeholders that are usually unconnected. As a result, it has developed a hub of academics, practitioners, trainers, consultants and 

politicians, and promoted and fostered professional development and management of public safety organisations on a European level.


About Gabriele Jacobs

Gabriele Jacobs joined RSM in 2000 after completing a PhD in psychology within a multidisciplinary PhD programme of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), at the University of Münster in Germany. Before that, she worked as researcher and assistant professor at the University of Cologne’s Department of Economic and Social Psychology, and was Visiting Professor at HEC’s Department of Human Resource Management in Paris.

Her expertise focuses on the areas of identity, change, leadership, justice and culture, with a specific focus on public safety management. Her research engagement is strongly based on the commitment to addressing grand societal challenges. She has published articles in leading academic journals, including the Journal of Organizational Behaviour, Journal of Business Ethics, British Journal of Management, Journal of Organizational Change Management and Marketing Letters. At RSM, Jacobs teaches courses and modules in leadership, culture and organisational change. Furthermore, she is the Academic Director of RSM’s International Bachelor programme (IBA).

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.


For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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