Master Students from Germany: The added value of a study trip

March 2015

Willy Brandt School of Public Policy is the graduate school specialized in the field of public policy under the umbrella of the well-known social sciences expertise of the University of Erfurt, Germany. Recently, the school joined the global MoC (Microeconomics of Competitiveness) network and introduced the course “Competitiveness Building at Regional and National level”. In that scope, the students have studied several cases, including cases about the industries in the Netherlands. The Netherlands Institute for Competitiveness helped the school to organize their visit to Port of Rotterdam with interviews and a case discussion, and also one of the FloraHolland’s locations in Aalsmeer – the largest flower auction in the country.

“During the winter semester of 2014/5, our group was working on the focal research project that investigates the shift in strategy of the Port of Rotterdam into more sustainable growth. The project is one of the main components in our master program of public policy, including an internship for practical experience, a focal research project for project management skill, and a master thesis for research competence.

We had studied an enormous amount of documents and materials, yet, an opportunity to visit the site as well as interview some players at the Port Authority was very indispensable. And since we had also studied the Dutch Flower Cluster Case in the course ‘Competitiveness Building at Regional and National Level’, we also hoped to see the actual setup of that cluster. It was great opportunity since both locations are in the Netherlands and we could have an exciting study trip.

We received great support from the Netherlands Institute for Competitiveness in organizing the trip. Interviews were the highlight, we talked to the right people from the port management together with a tour around the new terminal Maasvlakte 2. The visit to FloraHolland in Aalsmeer was also fascinating, and Prof. dr. Pablo Collazzo even accompanied our group and facilitated the case discussion after the tour. I personally think I learned more about the context of what we discussed in class. It’s just so inspiring to see things with your own eyes. The trip is absolutely value-added.”

– by Giang Vu, WBS.