Issues Management & Public Affairs

Issues Management & Public Affairs

There is more recorded evidence about business conduct in the public domain than ever before. An increase in symbolic competition on top of pure economic competition has forced organisations to keep an eye on how society views them. For many organisations, achieving their objectives therefore is as dependent on their nonmarket policies as it is on making sound business decisions in a competitive context. Nonmarket policies help organisations to pursue their strategic goals through political, social and cultural leverage. This 3-day Master Class introduces you to two closely related disciplines: issues management and public affairs.

Issues Management

The term ‘issues management’ refers simultaneously to a perspective on the business-society interface and to a set of concrete management tools. As a perspective, issues management stresses that firms’ long-term societal license to operate critically depends on the way in which it manages the areas of societal contention in which it is drawn due to its business model and strategy implementation. Issues management is by definition a multidisciplinary perspective, as issues tend to impact numerous stakeholders simultaneously, and cannot be managed unless all corporate disciplines cooperate in coordinated fashion. As a set of tools, issues management involves:

(a) tools for environmental scanning and tracing nascent issues;

(b) tools for positioning the corporation’s vis-à-vis issues, stakeholders, and their interests; 

(c) tools for managing issues, such as communication strategies and platform building.

Public Affairs

The term ‘public affairs’ refers to departments and routines corporations use to integrate their market and nonmarket environmental management techniques, with a particular emphasis on influencing the public policy process. Within modern companies, public affairs departments are the ones dealing with the political and regulatory issues firms might be confronted with in the context of their business operations. As these policies create both threats and opportunities for firms, it is critical to incorporate this ‘nonmarket’ component into firms’ market strategy.

Core objective
The core objective of this Master Class is to stimulate your learning about these two closely related disciplines. The instructors will share practical insights about countering and responding to societal issues, as well as navigating the public policy process. Adding to that, a mixture of case studies and interactive discussions will help you gain a working knowledge of issues management and public affairs.

  • This three-day programme is open for professionals with an interest in:

    • Corporate communication
    • Reputation management
    • Corporate affairs
    • Media relations
    • PR

    It is recommended to have 3 or more years of work experience.

  • Prof. Pursey Heugens

    Pursey Heugens  is Professor of Organization Theory, Development, and Change at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. He obtained his PhD from the same university in 2001. His research interests include comparative corporate governance, business ethics, and bureaucracy, institutional, and demographic theories of organization.

    Pursey has won numerous awards for his research and teaching performance, and serves on the editorial boards of six scholarly journals. His research is published in journals like Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Organization Studies, and Journal of Management Studies.

    In the present address he argues that the field of organization theory is locked into a state of permanent failure, because powerful centrifugal forces prevent it from producing a unified theory of organizational effectiveness while equally strong centripetal forces keep university administrators and policy makers from cashing in their chips.

    He also offers three research strategies that might end the stalemate by increasing the integration, relevance and realism of our current theories of organization.

    Prof. Jean-Philippe Bonardi

    Jean-Philippe Bonardi is Full Professor and currently the Dean of HEC Lausanne (the faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Lausanne, in Switzerland). He earned his PhD and a Master from HEC School of Management (Paris, France), as well as a Master in Economics from the University of Aix-en-Provence, and was previously an Associate Professor at the Richard Ivey School of Business of the University of Western Ontario (Canada). He also held visiting appointments at the University of California Berkeley, Tulane University (USA) and the University of New South Wales (Australia).

    His research focuses on the relationships between firms’ strategies and public policies, including macroeconomic policies and regulations of all kinds in a global context. He studies not only how firms are impacted by these policies, but also how firms devise strategies to participate in the development of these policies and how they manage the relationships with external stakeholders (media, NGOs, activists, consumer groups, etc.) in order to do so.

    His research has been published in major international research outlets and presented in many universities including Stanford University, Harvard Business School, and UCLA. He is currently working on a book studying the impact of the existing international monetary system on the recurrence of economic crises and on the way the capitalistic system has evolved since World War II (current nature of the globalization process, structures of industries, organizational and business practices, etc.). He has also been Associate Editor of the Academy of Management Review, one of the leading management journals.

    Professor Bonardi has also acted as a consultant to various companies in Europe and North America, and has taught and designed Executive education programs for companies such as Infosys, the United Nations, Engie, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), RBC Royal Bank, Threadneedle, La Poste, SSL International, UPM, Veolia or Air France.

  • Dates
    This course is scheduled for 2019 or 2020. More information will follow.
    09:30 - 17:00

    The course fee: € 2.600,-, includes tuition, course material and lunches  

    Bayle (J) Building, campus Woudestein
    Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
    Rotterdam, the Netherlands

    Hotel accommodation
    If you require hotel accommodation in Rotterdam, we recommend Novotel Rotterdam Brainpark, adjacent to the university.

    Cancellation policy
    Cancellations must be received in writing (or e-mail) to Ms. Susanna Marco at or

    • 45-30 days prior to the start date of the programme:          due 25% of programme fee
    • 29 – 8 days prior to the start date of the programme:          due 60% of programme fee
    • 7 days or less prior to the start of the programme:              due 100% of programme fee

    To receive full refund, the notice of cancellation must be received more than 45 days prior to the start of the programme (a charge of 10% costs is applicable). If the programme is cancelled, liability is limited to the programme fee.

    The participant can be substituted by someone from the same organisation on the same course without extra costs.

  • This programme takes place in 2019 or 2020. You can apply with our online application form:

Interested in an executive master degree?

This course can also be taken as part of RSM's part-time Executive Master in Corporate Communication, a flexible and accredited master programme for communications professionals. Find out more: