The VHB is the German Academic Association for Business Research and pursues the development of business research and business studies as an academic discipline at universities. While the VHB is a registered association under German law, it represents the German-speaking region rather than only Germany. VHB membership includes most of the university professors of business research in Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein as well as the German-speaking parts of Switzerland and Italy.
The main objective of the association is to foster research and education in business and management, as well as providing a platform for members, practitioners, and domestic and foreign institutions with similar objectives.
The internationally oriented association represents more than 2,400 members who are active researchers and educators in the fields of business and management, including professors at all levels and scientific researchers at universities and similar research institutions.
The VHB maintains friendly relations with other organizations:
British Academy of Management (BAM)
European Academy of Management (EURAM)
Japan Academy of Business Administration (JABA)
Schmalenbach-Gesellschaft für Betriebswirtschaft e. V. (SG)
Verein für Socialpolitik (German Economic Association)
The various sub-disciplines of business research form eighteen ‘sections’ that organise community conferences and discuss community issues in the context of the VHB:
- Banking and Finance (WK BAFI)
- Business Taxation (WK STEU)
- Services Management (WK DLM)
- Academic Management (WK HSM)
- International Management (WK INT)
- Logistics (WK LOG)
- Marketing (WK MARK)
- Sustainability Management (WK NAMA)
- Public Business Administration (WK ÖBWL)
- Operations Research (WK OR)
- Organization (WK ORG)
- Human Resources Management (WK PERS)
- Production Management (WK PROD)
- Accounting (WK RECH)
- Strategic Management (WK SM)
- Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (WK TIE)
- Business Information Systems (WK WI)
- Economic Science (WK WEW)
Initially launched as ‘commerce studies’ in commerce schools in the late nineteenth century, business research was established more broadly at universities in the early twentieth century and subsequently the VHB was founded in 1921 to represent university researchers and educators in business / management.
In the university system of German-speaking countries, the actor-centric lens of business research was always clearly distinguished from the market-wide lens of economics. While industry-specific specialisations such as retail management, industrial engineering, banking/insurance research and functional specialisations such as accounting, finance, logistics, human resources, industrial management and taxes were dominant for many decades, the post-war period brought new specialisations such as marketing, controlling, leadership, information systems, strategy or international management, but also such cross-disciplinary fields as entrepreneurship, family business and non-profit organisations. Mainly at technical universities, we also find combinations of a business-oriented education with engineering disciplines, often lumped together under the umbrella of “industrial engineering”.
Business research / education is currently offered at about 100 universities with a rough estimate of about 400,000 students on university Bachelor’s and Master’s-level programs (as of 2010). With approximately 1600 full professors and 100 assistant/associate professors as VHB members, the association represents the discipline to the largest possible extent.
While business studies is not offered exclusively at universities, but also at universities of applied sciences and polytechnics, for instance, PhD-level business research is exclusive to the university system. Universities host the overall majority of business research students in German-speaking countries (2010: approximately 400,000 out of a total of approximately 750,000). As universities are organisations that support the integral role of professors in research AND teaching, the VHB is dedicated to this ideal, representing professors that research and teach business at university level. While most universities worldwide follow the Bologna ideal of “Independence of Research and Higher Education”, the German-speaking countries have integrated this independence of research and teaching in their constitutions.
Professors at universities in German-speaking countries are very independent, both from state and university administration. The dominant design is the “chair” (“Lehrstuhl”), where one professor, perhaps some post-docs and a group of research/teaching assistants (usually PhD students) form a unit within a faculty / department / school with certain financial resources, a high degree of freedom in identifying research opportunities and defining organisational structure, and some degree of freedom in dividing teaching and research responsibilities. Since most of the research and teaching is assigned to such “chair” units, independent lecturers, independent research/teaching assistants or faculty staff beyond these chairs are much less visible in German-speaking universities than in other parts of the world.