The German Institute for Business Consulting, Business Development and Business Research – IBWF, President
The German Institute for Business Consulting, Business Development and Business Research (Institut für Betriebsberatung, Wirtschaftsförderung u. -forschung IBWF) is a professional association which represents the interests of German consultants, accountants and lawyers. The Institute’s president, Mr Boje Dohrn, supervises a network of 850 members and is currently considering a form of Europeanisation.
Project team: What do you envisage the Europeanisation of the IBWF looking like?
Boje Dohrn: For the time being this is only a goal! The organisation has until now been active exclusively on a national level, although the institution is affiliated with the European federation of SME associations (CEA-PME). Following a first experience in an Erasmus+ strategic partnership with German, Italian, Greek, Czech and Cypriot groups, the IBWF plans to intensify the cooperation, in particular by involving new partners.
Project team: What might be the biggest challenges preventing the European development of the IBWF?
Boje Dohrn: One of the greatest difficulties is the scarcity of associations similar to the IBWF in other European countries. Alongside this, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are not as well represented in Brussels as they are in Germany. This means that the internationalisation plan of the IBWF would involve the creation of local IBWF offices abroad. Each local office would be managed by a dedicated country manager. The ongoing management of such a large network of decentralised offices might be the second biggest challenge.
Project team: What would constitute successful European development for your organisation?
Boje Dohrn: The Europeanisation process would be a success if the IBWF manages to represent half of the European countries and half of the professions in ten years and if we ultimately manage to create a single European label or a common European job-profile for consultants. This will not happen, however, without a vision and a sound internationalisation strategy!
Project team: The IBWF runs an ‘Academy’ to facilitate the exchange of knowledge between its members and SMEs under the slogan “knowledge from practitioners to practitioners”. How might the activities of the Academy contribute to your European development plan?
Boje Dohrn: The training that the Academy offers is, as a matter of fact, a combination of the training offered by our members and by other SMEs. If the IBWF does develop beyond the German borders, then our offer will also have to adapt. In particular, our offer will then have to ensure that it takes into consideration the cultural differences between practitioners in different countries. International b2b cooperative projects often fail due to a lack of intercultural competence. If the Academy manages to bridge this gap, it will be a successful contribution to the overall European development plan.
Project team: What would be your advice for other organisations embarking on a process of Europeanisation?
Boje Dohrn: Strong leadership. We are an umbrella organisation representing very varied businesses. Some of our 850 consultants, accountants and lawyers are very enthusiastic about our association developing internationally but some not, since it is not important for them to expand beyond their borders. A clear decision must therefore be made by the managing board.