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NSM Focus | Radboud Management Academy targets senior management with new programme

Date of news: 23 June 2021

The Radboud Management Academy (RMa) will start the executive programme ‘The Psychology of Organisational Change’ later this year. With it, the RMa is aiming at senior management in organisations. “We believe that what we are offering can contribute to lasting successful change.”

“The programme is not ePatrick Vermeulenntirely new, but the target group is,” says Patrick Vermeulen, Academic Director of the RMa. “We have been teaching the regular ‘Psychology of Organisational Change’ programme for eight years. We noticed that senior management had not been applying. We have developed an executive variant especially for them. With it, we are targeting managers, just below executive boards and management councils.”

According to Vermeulen, what makes the programme special is the combination of two perspectives: business administration and psychology. “We have a unique approach to both. We analyse how organisational structure affects people’s behaviour from the perspective of business administration. From the psychological perspective, we examine both the factors that influence this behaviour and how to make problem and target behaviours concrete. This goes far beyond the question of: what triggers are there to intrinsically motivate people? By making the behaviour concrete, employees better understand how they are expected to change.”

Mind map

Course participants are provided with knowledge and skills to apply to their personal situations. Vermeulen: “We also encourage participants to talk to each other. They can learn a lot from that too. They are challenged to make behaviour as concrete as possible through various assignments.”

Participants begin by describing what problems they encounter in terms of change, looking at how their organisation currently functions versus what how they would like it to function. Then they analyse the preconditions and identify the obstacles to change. “Subsequently, they bring the most important factors together in a mind map, make an overview of possible interventions to each factor, and develop a comprehensive strategy. In it, they formulate which interventions they will use, whether they can combine them with other interventions, whether the use is one-off or structural and so on.”

Best compliment

There is a great need for this kind of programme, says Vermeulen. “Many change processes fail and the question is always: why? This is partly due to a lack of knowledge about how structure influences behaviour and there being too little insight into how to make behaviour concrete. The combination of these two components is not found in any other training programme. We believe that what we are offering can contribute to lasting, successful change. Our regular programme has been fully booked for the last eight years. Moreover, many participants come to us after being recommended by former students. This indicates that we are offering the right things.”

The executive programme will start at the end of this year. Despite this, Vermuelen already knows when the project will be a success to him. “If the course participants in our regular programme are from the same organisations as those partaking in the executive one. That means the managers find the approach valuable enough that they want their employees to learn it too, so that they will look at organisational change in the same way. That is the best compliment we can get.”