Structuring an organisation to facilitate growth – new learning resource

A new teaching resource about expansions and scaling-up businesses has been published by the Case Development Centre at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). It focuses on a Rotterdam-based start-up founded by an RSM student in 2009 that became a major international business. The teaching case is for anyone studying organisation and personnel management, from bachelor students to management executives working in those sectors.

This new and professionally written business case, called Housing Anywhere, trains students’ skills in identifying organisational structures within companies, and what changes are needed to optimise the preparations for expansion.

Alignment and organisation

It tells the story of the company’s impressive growth, and points out aspects and characteristics within organisational structures such as degrees of formality, the amount of attention given to performing tasks and building relationships, orientation to time and goals, and the differentiation between vertical and horizontal organisation in the firm. The business case analyses how the alignment of these focal points helped the company to scale up internally, and evaluate how subsystems within such a company provide feedback and information for each other. It identifies how bottlenecks can be avoided in a vertical structure.

Scaling up to professionals

The business case study focuses on HousingAnywhere, an online accommodation booking platform founded by RSM student (and the company’s former CEO) Niels van Deuren in 2009, the year before he graduated from RSM with an MSc in International Management/CEMS. HousingAnywhere provides a service for international students and young professionals coming to study in the Netherlands, and for Dutch students and young professionals planning to study or work in other countries and wanting to sub-let their properties. It started out with services for only students.

In 2016-2017, 80 per cent of HousingAnywhere employees were interns, but by 2018, only 10 per cent of them were. In the same year, HousingAnywhere underwent a reorganisation: sales, supply, and customer care departments worked in a hierarchical fashion whereas the functional aspects in the product and development department had a matrix structure.

HousingAnywhere intended to scale up its plans by increasing targets from 5 additional cities to 20 additional cities in 2020. How should the company address its complex internal structure in preparation for the next step so that it can function effectively in international markets?

The business case study was prepared by Carla Gatt, RSM’s senior case writer in the Case Development Centre; Dr Irma Bogenrieder, Associate Professor in the department of Organisation and Personnel Management; Djordy Seelmann, CEO HousingAnywhere; Nik Ratcliff, VP sales and customer solutions at HousingAnywhere; Matteo Cattaneo, VP of engineering at HousingAnywhere.

Dr Irma Bogenrieder said: “Students of organisational theory can use the case to understand how organisations can be structured to facilitate growth. The case describes the advantages of design options and dealing with side effects. It demonstrates how an organisational structure can be designed, and what aspects of organisational design – such as control and decentralisation – must be balanced.”

For more information about business cases available from RSM’s Case Development Centre, visit

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked 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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