2011 is drawing to a close and it’s difficult to summarize, in concise terms, how it’s been. We can certainly look back on a year of rapid growth, and, in many areas, companies have been working to full capacity. Raw materials and skilled workers have been in short supply and plenty of businesses have been reporting record profits.
But at the same time, 2011 has been a year of upheaval, uncertainty and crisis. The fastmoving, volatile working environment has made doing business difficult. This has been particularly noticeable in strong industrial regions such as the Heilbronn-Franken area of Germany, which is home to more international leaders and hidden champions than most areas. When industry is driven by innovation, medium-sized entrepreneurialism and a focus on global markets, one boom year won’t put a shine on the prospect of uncertainty in rapidly changing surroundings. Businesses are not just busy coping with the boom, they’re looking intensively at improving performance and remaining agile, just to keep pace with rising demands. Companies are occupied with business issues like the flexibility and transparency of management, processes and systems, and how to manage global commerce, risk, compliance, sustainability, and, last but not least (especially given the debt crisis), liquidity and finances.
Support comes in the form of knowledge transfer through universities and networks – and by comparing notes with other companies. At the Heilbronn-based Steinbeis Business Administration and Management Center, we bring together a variety of skills to provide companies with the support they need: consulting, conventions, studies and advisory services.
For example, we provide training and continuing professional development services in the form of seminars and degrees, in areas such as financial control, accounting and business administration. At the Heilbronn Graduate College, in addition to helping transfer existing know-how into business, we also carry out applied research to provide companies with fresh impetus through new business insights.
A further area of focus in our transfer work lies in the sharing of experiences within close-knit regional networks, with respect to management accounting, strategy, marketing and sales. The potential to transfer knowledge through talks, workshops and project work facilitates discourse, the search for relevant reference projects and methodological developments. For example, over 330 members from various work backgrounds, dealing with a variety of key topics are working together in dialog sessions about management accounting. Steinbeis is represented in the region by another 26 enterprises, and staff at these organizations make important contributions to knowledge transfer into industry within their specialist areas. A number of other Steinbeis projects are outlined in this latest edition of TRANSFER. I hope it provides you with many new ideas and you enjoy reading it!
Prof. Dr. Ralf Dillerup