Both your support and your advice will be very important to the university and to me personally in my new role. EBS aims not only to offer first-rate education in the fields of economics and management, but to create, with all of you, new value.
We want to bolster the economic education, research and enterprise ecosystem in both Tallinn and Helsinki. I use the word ‘ecosystem’ deliberately, since to me it is far more than just a catchphrase: it embodies people working together, creating things together, complementing one another, forging new value and passing our values on.
It is based on mutual understanding and the realisation that it is our collective mission to develop economic and management studies and research. And of course, such development activities must be strongly linked to the needs of companies and other organisations.
From this process of co-creation it is not only students, researchers, lecturers, managers and companies who benefit, but the economy and society as a whole. Good management helps to increase a company’s efficiency, thereby contributing to overall productivity and boosting the well-being of us all.
Your skills, knowledge and advice and the contribution you make, whatever form it takes, help us to fulfil that mission. However, knowledge alone in Estonia and Finland is not enough for modern economic education and research, which are international by nature. This is especially true if we want to stay a few steps ahead of developments, shaping them rather than responding to them.
That is why it is important for us to learn from the best in the world and to pursue wide-ranging international cooperation. EBS has internationalised significantly in recent years, and our students now come from 42 different countries. We have teaching staff from the United States, China, Italy, Colombia, Finland and other countries. I intend to maintain this course, on one heading or another, tweaking our plans in response to rising uncertainty.
Nobel prize-winner and Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics professor Bengt Holmström spoke in this very hall two-and-a-half years ago. He highlighted the differences between managing a university and managing a company.
Bengt said that in companies, and indeed in many other organisations, the employees strive to ensure that their bosses rate them highly. At a university, on the other hand, researchers and lecturers are primarily interested in how their contribution is rated by other scientists and professors – and not just at their own university, but around the world.
I have discussed this idea of Bengt’s with doctoral students when looking at contract theory. They feel that at a very good university this is presumably the case. It is an ideal. And it is the ideal we must aim for.
I would take what Bengt said further: if we teach our students in such a way that they see it as connected to their own development, and if our contribution to research and teaching is relevant and creates value for companies, the economy and society, then people will rate it at EBS, in Estonia, in Finland and elsewhere in the world.