Learning by doing: Consulting to Social Entrepreneurs and Non-profit Orginizations

Learning by doing: Consulting to Social Entrepreneurs and Non-profit Organizations

Real life consultancy: doing good, done better

Name of minor:

Learning by doing: Consulting to Social Entrepreneurs and Non-profit Organizations



Teaching language:


Offered by:

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM); (International) Business Administration

Other programmes which are contributing to the minor:

Master of Global Business and Sustainability


See admissions matrix



In this minor, you will work as consultants to social entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations (NPOs) located in the Rotterdam area. Social entrepreneurs and NPOs are of increased importance in our society due to trends such as the changing role of governments, an increased (global) interest in CSR and stakeholder management. The course focuses on drawing connections between literature and practice, based on the philosophy of experiential or service learning. Experiential learning is a credit-bearing educational experience in which students consult to social entrepreneurs in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility (Bringle & Hatcher, 1996). Instead of working with fictitious cases, you will be working

with real, existing organizations

. This will allow you to apply the knowledge that you have gained thus far to a real-life situation. In addition, the work you will be doing is intended to benefit both your client organization and the larger community of Rotterdam. Interesting cases are pre-selected by the instructors, but we are open for any suggestions from students. In this minor, you will design and execute a consulting project with an organization in order to resolve one or more concrete problems. This project will provide insight into a number of issues relating to management, including entrepreneurship, the non-profit sector and interaction between market, governments and civil society and trends within the community. You will also develop your consultancy skills while having the experience of working for a real organization as part of a team of consultants. You will also make an active contribution to your client organization (and the community) in the form of doing actual research and making valuable recommendations.

Learning objectives:

During this course, you will:
  1. become familiar with important issues and theories involving consultancy, social entrepreneurship, and the non-profit sector;
  2. develop skills in the application of theoretical concepts to real-life situations;
  3. gain experience with actual issues that arise in the course of a consultancy project;
  4. be guided through: your first meeting with the client, how to write a consultancy contract and report, the actual process of consultancy, and how to present your recommendations to your client;
  5. gain experience in finding, evaluating and applying relevant literature to the specific situation of a client organization;
  6. develop and strengthen your creativity, teamwork, project, communication, research, writing, intervision, and presentation skills.

Specific characteristics:

This course is intended to strengthen the skills of students and provides a practical experience. There is no study specific background needed for this course. We highly encourage students of different disciplines to take part in this course. An interest in, or experience with (business) administration and (project) management is suggested.



The course consists of several phases: 1.         Introduction to substantive areas and formation of project teams (‘consultancies’) 2.         Introduction to the client organizations and the intervention requests 3.         Preparation of a contract & expectations 4.         Carrying out an intervention (the consultancy project) -        Literature review -        Conducting empirical research 5.         Presentation of recommendations Although these components do not have separate ECTS, it is required to hand in all assignments as each builds on the previous component. Specific information about the various project components will be discussed in class and posted on Blackboard. This minor has no written exam. Rather, we expect the students to hand in several assignments. The grade is built upon the following components:
  1. active participation within intervision sessions
  2. individual assignments
  3. team assignment: consultancy project

Teaching methods:

A mixture of lectures, intervisions and feedback sessions that start with your experiences with your actual clients in the field. In addition, we provide several workshops on skills that are important for consultants, including writing, presenting, and creative thinking.

Teaching materials:

Block, P. 2000. Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting your Expertise Used. New York: Pfeiffer. (Available online) In addition, a  reading list will be developed based upon the need in the actual projects (see Blackboard).

Contact hours:

Lectures: 30 hours Intervision: 20 hours With your client in the field: a lot!


There is no written test for this minor. Students have to attend the classes, write individual assignments, and write a consultancy report along with specific learning assignments, which are all compulsory. If students do not hand in all individual and group assignments, they will not pass this course.

Composition of the final grade:

The evaluation (grading) of the course is related to the learning objectives. Grades will be assigned according the quality of the work of the various project teams and the effort and development of individual course participants, and not according to comparisons between students. Participation in lectures and intervision sessions, effort within the group and self-reflection form the foundation upon which course participants will be evaluated.
  • Individual assignment (including small pre-assignment at the beginning of the course and an extensive self-assessment at the end of the course): 40%
  • Intervision group sessions: 10%
  • Final consultancy report: 40%
    • To build up to the final report, students work on several project and process components throughout the course (project components, however, will not be graded, only the final report will receive a grade. Project components include a company profile, client contract, literature review and research methodology).Please be advised that the final report is not just bringing the components together.
  • Final Presentation: 10%


After each assignment, students receive extensive written feedback as well as the opportunity to talk to the teachers about the feedback and how to develop their project further. Furthermore multiple feedback sessions are provided in which students receive feedback and can ask questions or share any concerns with the teachers. During the entire course there will be a high degree of support from the teachers.

Contact information

Contact persons:

Stephanie Maas MSc
s.a.maas@rsm.nlTel: +31 (0)10 408 8017 Mandeville Building, Room 11-53 Prof. Dr. Lucas Meijs
lmeys@rsm.nlTel: +31 (0)10 408 1921 Mandeville Building, Room 11-59