Arnoud Boot, professor of Corporate Finance and Financial Markets at the University of Amsterdam, graduated in 1983 in Economics and Business Administration. In addition to being a professor, he is also a member of the Dutch Social Economic Council (SER) and advisor to several governmental institutions and organizations.
"I have the opportunity and freedom to participate in discussions on important issues and I hope to never lose that freedom"
Why did you choose to study at Tilburg University?
“I can’t say this was a deliberate choice. As a somewhat undistinguished high school student I had difficulties to conform to the obligatory, only economic subjects had my interest. Several of my friends went to study economics in Tilburg, and thus, after retaking some exams and passing them, I decided to go to Tilburg as well.”
Who was your favorite professor and why?
“Professor D.B.J. Schouten, his way of modeling appealed to me. I linked his theory and macroeconomic models to a model of the business sector. This enabled me to provide insight into the consequences of macroeconomic policy for the financial health of companies. My approach elicited interesting discussions which made me enjoy economics. When I was offered the choice between a PhD position with Professor Schouten or with Piet Verheyen, I chose nonetheless for the latter. Professor Schouten had been ahead of his time ten years ago, but he had created his own world and had diverged from the Anglo-Saxon revolution. Piet Verheyen took a risk by hiring me in Econometrics, since I had no experience in this field.
I met Professor Anjan Thakor through an exchange program between Tilburg University and Indiana University in the United States. At that university I finished my PhD and we still publish, even twenty-five years later, many articles together."
"My stay at Indiana University (and subsequently at Northwestern University near Chicago) was a real eye-opener: Dutch universities at the time were very internally focused, while the universities in the United States were part of society"
Do you have an interesting anecdote about your student time?
“Via Business Economics and General Economics, I ended up in Econometrics. When I was a student, most exams were taken orally and nine out of ten times I managed to find an additional article about the topic of the exam. Focusing the discussion on these articles, I came across as being very capable without revealing I hadn’t studied all the books.”
Your career thus far has been very successful, as academic as well as advisor to several governmental institutions and organizations and member of the Dutch Social Economic Council (SER). What do you consider to be the common thread in your career?
“Often I am in positions in which I can think independently and don’t have to operate in a fixed pattern. I want to be a liaison between science, policy and business. This requires not only understanding the academic side and being able to get your research published in academic top journals, but also comprehension of the relevance of policy for markets and governments and how to influence that policy.”
What are your future ambitions?
“That is a tough question. Every day is different and I’m never bored. I can fulfill all my ambitions in my current positions and don’t have the ambition to, for example, become a CEO. Even though that might by some seem more prestigious, it is more limiting in so many respects. Now I have the opportunity and freedom to participate in discussions on important issues and I hope to never lose that freedom.”
What role has Tilburg University/School of Economics and Management played in your life and how did it influence your career?
“For me to study Economics at Tilburg University was pure coincidence, but my motivation unlocked by Professor Schouten and the opportunity given to me by Piet Verheyen to get to know the international research community, have shaped my entire career.”
"I owe a lot to several people at Tilburg University"
Does Tilburg University/School of Economics and Management still play a role in your life, and if so, which?
“Regularly Tilburg University plays a role in my life, I have been approached at least five or six times for an appointment at the university [laughs]. I owe a lot to several people at Tilburg University and I am happy I was able contribute to the appointment of Piet Duffhues as professor. He had made enormous contributions to business economics, but because he belonged to the generation who published mostly in Dutch journals, this was not considered to be sufficient for an appointment as professor. I made him an offer at the University of Amsterdam, which forced Tilburg University to appoint him, rightfully so. Nowadays researchers only want to publish in English journals. But shouldn’t we also value contributions in Dutch journals, especially when one chooses to publish in third tier journals because publication in the top journals is not feasible? In 1997 I also wrote the book ‘Financiering en Macht’ [Finance and Power] with Piet Verheyen and I am in touch with the young researchers at several Tilburg University institutes.”