Interview with Prof. Dr. Oliver Lorz

We have spoken with Prof. Oliver Lorz, the academic director of our new Full-Time MBA in Digitalization & Industrial Change (on the right in the picture above, together with Dr. Kasperk, academic co-director of the full-time MBA), about management education, the curriculum, and his expectations for the program.

Prof. Lorz, would you briefly introduce yourself?

Prof. Lorz: I am Professor for International Economics at RWTH Aachen University. Before that, I worked as a Research Associate at the Kiel Institute of World Economics. My time there and a research visit at the MIT Global Economy Lab sparked my interest in international trade and international economic policy – fields on which most of my research is focused. In Aachen, I teach various courses on international trade and microeconomics at all levels. I was also involved in faculty management as dean in Aachen and as inaugural dean at GUtech, our partner university in Oman. At GUtech, I introduced two new undergraduate programs and an MBA that is taught together with WU Vienna.

What is it about economics that keeps you fascinated?

Prof. Lorz: Economics is concerned with so many aspects of our daily and professional life, from the individual decision to enroll in a graduate study program or the formulation of business strategies to enter new markets to the policies that shape the macroeconomic conditions for whole economies. All these issues can be analyzed in a consistent framework using the powerful analytical and statistical tools and approaches economics has to offer. So in short, economics helps to improve the decisions of individuals, firms, and societies.

Can one be taught to be a good manager?

Prof. Lorz: As a good manager, you have to lead your team effectively and you have to make good decisions in a complex and highly dynamic environment with limited information. Many skills and competencies that are helpful in this regard can be taught similarly to other professions. In addition, becoming a successful leader involves developing your personality. A good management program also supports you along this individual journey.

How does your research blend into your teaching?

Prof. Lorz: In the course “Economics of Industrial Transformation”, we deal with questions that are at the forefront of current applied research in economics: How do jobs and industrial relations change with the massive introduction of digital technologies, and what are the consequences for firms and societies? We do not provide ready-made answers to these issues but provide students with useful tools to analyze the main forces at work. This approach trains students to think critically and independently in complex settings and encourages them to apply these skills to other situations in their professional life.

What do you think is the best thing about the full-time MBA at RWTH Business School?

At RWTH Business School, we teach the digital transformation of industries right at the heart of one of the largest engineering campuses in Europe. So we can truly and deeply connect the business education of the MBA with the engineering perspective in a production environment. Students directly experience how digital technologies are applied in modern industries and which business challenges arise in this context.

What are your expectations for the full-time MBA?

I expect that the MBA complements the successful education programs offered at RWTH Business School, meeting the highest academic standards, as reflected by our AACSB accreditation, in combination with innovative teaching in a dynamic and stimulating setting. I also expect that participants will benefit from insights into the state of the art in data science and production engineering offered by the interdisciplinary set-up of the program.

Please tell us some more about the strategy labs at the end of the first two semesters. Why did you decide to integrate them into the curriculum?

The strategy labs connect academic knowledge with the first-hand experience of its application. Students learn about the newest production technologies and – building on that – create business ideas as well as develop and implement marketing strategies for their product and process innovations. One of our strategy labs is taught at the RWTH Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering, a renowned institution for cutting edge research in production engineering.

Do you have any advice for future managers?

We are currently living in very uncertain and disruptive times. Such unstable environments create ample opportunities for managers who are able to identify needs and possible new solutions, who can communicate their knowledge to others and thereby drive change within their organization and beyond.

(Photos for the article by Bernd Kalwa)

You want to know more about our brand new Full-Time MBA in Digitalization & Industrial Change? Please follow this link.

Round portrait of Prof. Dr. Oliver Lorz

Prof. Dr. Oliver Lorz
Head of Department
of International Economics