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Review of Business and Economic Literature


The Review is published by Intersentia:
Intersentia ReBEL website


Fifty-six years ago, when this journal was first published, Belgian and European companies operated in an environment that was dramatically different from today’s situation. For one, the Treaty of Rome had not yet been signed. As a result, trade was hindered by all kinds of tariff and non-tariff barriers, and companies could find comfort in the protection that these barriers provided. At that time it made sense for them to focus on their national markets and strive to be the local champions.

In the intervening time the 1957 Treaty of Rome and the EU’s Internal Market Program of the 1980s, as well as other international developments, have swept away most trade restrictions and with them the safety they offered. In the process many of the local Flemish and Belgian champions have disappeared, been absorbed by foreign competitors, been relegated to irrelevance in the global markets, or they have become a small part of a large international conglomerate.

Some companies, however, have been able to withstand this fate, have risen to the occasion, and have come out on top in the new business environment. The city of Leuven, hometown of KU Leuven, the university whose Department of Economics first published this journal fifty-six years ago, is home to one such company, Inbev, a company whose roots predate those of KU Leuven (˚1425) by fifty-nine years.

When markets were opened up toward the end of the 1980s this company was well prepared. It had strengthened its position in its domestic market through a number of mergers and acquisitions. Moreover, it had divested activities that did not belong to its core business, and decided to focus almost exclusively on its main product, beer. To underline its international orientation it had abandoned the local names of its constituent companies, Artois and Piedboeuf, for a new name, Interbrew. Thus, when markets were opened up in Western and Eastern Europe and throughout the world, the company was ready to face the competition, in fact it was one step ahead. Through a series of international mergers and acquisitions it quickly rose to be the number one in its industry worldwide.

Business is operating in a global environment nowadays, and so is academia. Fifty-six years ago it made sense for a university and for a journal to strive to be the number one in its homeland and to have limited aspirations beyond that. Today, in the twenty-first century it does not. Students hop around from one university to another with little or no regard for national borders, even at the undergraduate level. Moreover, universities that used to employ their own graduates and naturally assumed that the graduates who went overseas to launch their academic careers would one day return to their alma mater as faculty members, now have to compete with other universities throughout the world for these faculty. Furthermore, these faculty are no longer content to publish in local journals, but rather want their work to appear in internationally recognized journals.

This journal is not isolated from these developments and not immune to the increased competition that they entail. For these reasons it has embarked on a journey to strengthen its leading position in its domestic market and to position itself as an important player in the international market for academic journals in business and economics. With this objective in mind the journal is implementing a number of important reforms.

A few years ago KU Leuven formed an association with a number of other Flemish schools to consolidate its leading position in the market for higher education in Flanders. In the fields of business and economics this association led to the formation of the Integrated Faculty of Economics, Applied Economics and Business. This Integrated Faculty consists of three components: the Faculty of Business and Economics at KU Leuven, HU Brussels, and Lessius University College. In January 2007 KU Leuven’s Faculty of Business and Economics, which had run this journal up to that point, handed over the journal to the Integrated Faculty.

In addition to reinforcing its position in its domestic market the editorial board decided to focus on its core competences, that is, the academic aspects of running the journal. For the first fifty-two years KU Leuven’s Faculty of Business and Economics took care of the more practical aspects of editing a journal as well, such as subscriptions and sales. These responsibilities, however, do not belong to its core business. The Faculty was no longer in a position to take on these responsibilities. Therefore, we handed over the responsibilities for the practical aspects of publishing the journal to a professional publisher. The journal is now published by Intersentia.

Last but not least, to underline the journal’s intention to position itself as a player in the international market we also decided to change the name of the journal. English is the lingua franca in academia, and it therefore seemed appropriate to give the journal an English name. We have opted for a name that stayed close to the original Dutch name of the journal and to the name of the Faculty that first published it. For these reasons the journal is now called the Review of Business and Economic Literature. The new name also emphasizes the journalís new focus on literature reviews. Two related decisions further demonstrate the international orientation of the Review. First, the Review now only accepts English language articles. Second, the Review’s editorial board was expanded to include scholars from overseas universities.

We are confident that these changes have greatly improved the quality of the Review, and will continue to do so, both in terms of academic contents and publishing services. We trust that the reforms are met with the approval of our readers. Readers who have comments or questions about any of these reforms can send them to our editorial assistant (rbe@econ.kuleuven.be). We will be happy to address them.

Christophe Crombez