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New strategy echoing the Danish doctor’s oath holds key to transforming CBS

man in focus

NIkolaj Malcow-Møller, the President of CBS, talks about the process of creating a transformative strategy and what he hopes it will bring. (Photo: Mette Koors & Anne M. Lykkegaard)

For CBS’ President, Nikolaj Malchow-Møller, the students have played a key role in drawing up the new strategy, which drives CBS in a transformative direction. He hopes the new strategy can transform society as well as CBS, while giving students the capabilities to deal with the expectations and pressure they are facing.

News |   05. Oct 2020

Anne Thora Lykkegaard


Nikolaj Malchow-Møller, President of CBS, quickly mentions the importance of students when asked what he is happiest about concerning CBS’ new strategy.

“I’m happy that we have involved the students in the process from day one. They are extremely important – especially as we have 20,000 of them,” he says when CBS WIRE interviews him on Microsoft Teams about the new strategy.

“The point is that we have obtained a much better strategy by involving them. And they will be important for the further development and implementation.”

The new strategy, which aims to “transform society with business”, also has built-in features that aim to transform CBS itself. These include encouragement to take up more cross-disciplinary collaborations, as well as a “holistic” view of students, who should graduate with a profile based on the nine capabilities described in the Nordic Nine.

“The holistic view of students has been important for me. They are not only to be responsible for themselves, but also for future generations. They must be analytical, but also embrace situations where there is ambiguity. And these are big expectations in addition to all the other expectations they meet. Certainly, more is expected of them compared to when I was a student,” he says and continues:

“And we probably can’t remove that pressure, but we can provide them with the tools and communities they need to manage that pressure. And we have a duty to do that.”

The strategy acts like a compass. We have a lot of different activities that, at the end of the day, should point in the same direction

Nikolaj Malchow-Møller

With the Nordic Nine capabilities in the students’ toolbox, Nikolaj Malchow-Møller expects graduates will be able to carry out the strategy’s aim – namely to transform society into “a better society”.

“Our graduates will get a unique global profile based on high-quality, research-based teaching and should have the capabilities and ambitions to carry on the responsibility of changing and  improving business and society. The Nordic Nine has by some been called CBS’ parallel to the Danish doctor’s oath. And I believe that describes it very well,” says Nikolaj Malchow-Møller.

Being transformative

According to Nikolaj Malchow-Møller, it is also partly because of the students’ perseverance during the discussions in the strategy development phase that CBS has nowcommitted to being transformative.

But what exactly does being transformative mean? What does it mean for CBS? And what does it mean for society at large?

“To me, it means that we dare to use the big questions as our point of departure. That we look at the challenges they raise, but also the opportunities they present. And the big questions can be those that we already know of, such as the green transitions, artificial intelligence, and pandemics. But it can and should also be those that we haven’t asked yet,” he says and continues:

“It requires that we take responsibility, also for the research questions we look at, and that the students we educate are able to make the changes we need to see in society.”

Nikolaj Malchow-Møller is excited to see what projects, initiatives and changes can come from the strategy, but he is also aware that the ambition to make lasting change is not based on a ‘business as usual’ approach.

“Collaborating with students, researchers and people from different disciplines will be fun and exciting, and we will need to do that. But it will also be challenging. When we have to do things in new ways and work with new collaborators, it’s not always easy. It can actually be quite challenging, and we might even fall with some of our ideas,” he says.

Implementing a strategy

In total, DKK 270 million has been allocated to implementing the strategy. According to Nikolaj Malchow-Møller, the money will be used for a number of different things that somehow tie in with the strategy.

For example, the money can be used to start projects that work with ‘big’ questions and to develop campus, but also to hire additional staff members where they are needed.

Right now, ideas for initiatives are coming in from departments, units and students, however, one initiative has already started; implementing the Nordic Nine capabilities, which should be incorporated in all CBS programs.

“This will be a dynamic process where we don’t put too many initiatives in motion at the same time. Also, we need to balance things, so the initiatives reflect the different activities at CBS. However, we will likely prioritize to start implementing the Nordic Nine as soon as possible. But we will continuously discuss what to address next,” he says.

Nikolaj Malchow-Møller believes that having a strategy is a way for students, staff and society to see the course CBS is taking.

(Illustration by Emil Friis)

“The strategy acts like a compass. We have a lot of different activities that, at the end of the day, should point in the same direction. The strategy sets a common direction for where we want to go. Also, society and our stakeholders can use the strategy to see where we are heading and might want to steer in the same direction and make changes in collaboration with us. I believe that’s the purpose of having a strategy – no matter what that strategy is.”

Responsible ambitions

The new strategy sets the direction for CBS ambitions over the coming years, but looking ahead, what does Nikolaj Malchow-Møller hope to see?

“I hope that people will say that we have been responsible and ambitious, and that we have taken our tasks as a publicly financed institution seriously, and that we have used our mandate to make a difference. And I hope they will experience that we have successfully tried to answer some of the big questions,” he says.

And just as the strategy aims for staff and students at CBS to engage in cross-disciplinary collaborations in order to transform, Nikolaj Malchow-Møller hopes that CBS will not be alone in that process.

“Hopefully, we will signal that we want to work with important issues, and hopefully other universities and stakeholders will see that we cannot do it alone and join us. I sincerely hope that the strategy and CBS will have that effect on society.”


  1. Michael Mol says:

    So the evil plan to ‘transform society with business’ starts here and now. Sports clubs, doctors, churches, and schools all have to become more like businesses according to the new CBS strategy. Not sure where it will lead us, but definitely an interesting experiment!

    I am presumably not reading this as intended. But there was an opportunity to correct the wording along the way to avoid this ambiguity, because this exact feedback was passed on to top management. Alas; the feedback did not come from students and could therefore safely be ignored?

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