ABRI 5th Anniversary Symposium

The mobile workforce and the apocalypse of the traditional workplace: How contemporary “Kandinskys” challenge management and work practices in professional services firms

November 5 2014

Time: 14:45 – 19:00

Location: VU University Auditorium


The traditional workplace is rapidly changing. Advanced mobile technologies provide professionals with the freedom to work anywhere and at any time they want. They also reduce the need for traditional offices in favor of flexible work places and smart buildings. These revolutionary trends offer opportunities for contemporary service firms. However, they also pose major challenges for leadership, work practices, and service provision.

kandinsky 3Many professional service firms increasingly embrace flexible working practices and understand the value of the transformation towards a human centered workplace design. However, business leaders are not always aware of the implications of these developments on the provision of services, management practices, and employees’ work tactics inside the organization and across partner-firms.

This fifth anniversary symposium of the Amsterdam Business Research Institute of VU University Amsterdam proposes to get beyond the current debate between proponents and opponents of these new working practices. We will reflect on the very notion of work and the workplace as changing concepts, and we will address the most recent insights regarding the impact of these developments on existing management and work practices. We call for a thought provoking debate between business leaders who are pioneering these developments, and management scholars who are researching the implications of these new ways of working.

As the painter Wassily Kandinsky at the beginning of twentieth century changed our perception of art and reality, these pioneering business leaders and scholars lead the apocalypse of the business world as we know it. The speakers at the symposium will share their inspiring perspectives, illustrations and business cases from the art industry, knowledge communities and architecture, and give their vision on the challenges and opportunities of management developments in the professional services industry and the future of the workplace in the professional service firms.


15:00Prof. dr. Willem Verschoor, Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, VU University Amsterdam
Opening of ABRI's fifth anniversary symposium
15:05Prof. dr. Svetlana Khapova, Scientific Director of ABRI, VU University Amsterdam
Introduction: “Kandinsky, and the role of architects and designers in shaping the future of professional service organizations”
15:15Chris Wiersma, CEO of the award winning New Library in Almere
“Reshaping existing concepts and the significance of a stimulating working environment in the knowledge community”
15:40Erik Veldhoen, Pioneer in new ways of working
“New work practices in a rapidly changing business environment”
16:05Prof. dr. Marleen Huysman, Head of Knowledge, Information and Innovation (KIN) Research Group, VU University Amsterdam
“New ways of working: research insights”
16:30Iris de Been, Researcher at Center for People and Buildings, Delft
“The mutual effects of the workplace on people and their workprocesses”
16:55Panel debate, moderated by Prof. dr. Joep Cornelissen, Professor of Corporate Communication and Organization Theory, VU University Amsterdam
17:30Award ceremony dedicated to the 5th anniversary of Amsterdam Business Research Institute
-Best PhD Student Paper Award
-Best Faculty Paper Award
-Distinguished PhD Supervisor Award
-Impact Award
17:45Closing of the symposium & Anniversary Reception