Personal webpage

Gerarda Westerhuis is assistant professor at the Department of History and Art History, Utrecht University. Her research focuses in particular on corporate governance, CEOs and boards, entrepreneurship, elites and financial history. She combines theories and methodologies from economic and sociological sciences applying the long term perspective of a historian. She makes use of large data sets, in-depth archival research, and interviews.

As part of the research project on Business in the Netherlands in the 20th century (BINT) she published, with Abe de Jong,  a book on the corporate governance and financing of business in the Netherlands during the 20th century (Boom, 2015). She is co-initiator and coordinator of an international project The power of corporate networks: a comparative and historical perspective. The project resulted in an edited book by Routledge (2014). She obtained her PhD from Utrecht University with a dissertation on the expansion of Dutch banks and insurance companies to the United States, published under the title Conquering the American market. ABN AMRO, Rabobank and Nationale-Nederlanden working in a different business environment, 1965-2005 (Boom, 2008). She also holds an MA in Social and Economic History from the University of Groningen, and worked for three years as a project manager in the Marketing department of Fortis Bank.

Recent projects

  • In April 2013 she started her research project (NWO Veni grant), entitled Unraveling the origins of a banking crisis: changing perceptions of risk and managerial beliefs in Dutch banking, 1957-2007.
  • Since June 2015 she is part of the European funded project (Horizon2020) on Financial and Institutional Reforms for Entrepreneurial Society (FIRES), in which she is jointly responsible for work package 2 on Institutions and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Europe: past, present and future.
  • Recently, she  extended, jointly with Thomas David (University of Lausanne), the international project The power of corporate networks: a comparative and historical perspective; now with a focus on interpersonal ties by focusing on business elites.
  • In yet another project she analyzes Dutch CEOs (tenure in relation to firm performance, CEO turnover, changing backgrounds) in a long term perspective.






Strategische thema's / focusgebieden
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Curriculum vitae Download PDF
  • 2015-present: Assistant professor, Economic and Social History (Utrecht University, Department of History and Art History).
  • 2013-2017:  Researcher, Utrecht University, VENI grant: Unraveling the origins of a banking crisis: changing perceptions of risk and managerial beliefs in Dutch banking, 1957-2007.
  • 2013-2015: Lecturer at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.
  • 2008-2014: Lecturer, Economic and Social History, Utrecht University , Utrecht University.
  • 2010-2014: Contract researcher, Utrecht University. Writing company history of Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten (co-authored).
  • 2008-2014: Postdoctoral researcher, Utrecht University. NWO project: The corporate governance of Dutch business during the 20th century: structural change and performance.
  • 2002-2007: PhD student in business history at Utrecht University
  • 1999-2001: Project manager at Fortis Bank.
  • 1997-1998: Student internship at Nutreco, Madrid, Spain.
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Alle publicaties
Westerhuis, G.K. & de Jong, Abe (2015). Over geld en macht. Financiering en corporate governance van het Nederlandse bedrijfsleven. (280 p.). Amsterdam: Boom uitgevers.
Westerhuis, Gerarda & Vos, Jozef (2014). Kredietwaardigheid verzilverd - BNG Bank 1914-2014. Den Haag: BNG.
Westerhuis, G.K. (2008). Conquering the American market. ABN AMRO, Rabobank and Nationale-Nederlanden working in a different business environment, 1965-2005. Amsterdam: Boom.
Westerhuis, Gerarda & David, Thomas (2014). The power of corporate networks - a comparative and historical perspective. London: Routledge.
  Boekdelen / hoofdstukken
Sluyterman, K.E. & Westerhuis, G.K. (2017). International Varieties of Capitalism: the Case of Western Europe. In John F. Wilson, Steven Toms, Abe de Jong & Emily Buchnea (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to Business History (pp. 220-239) (20 p.). Abingdon ; New York: Routledge.
Westerhuis, Gerarda (2016). Commercial Banking: Changing Interactions Between Banks, Markets, Industry and State. In Youssef Cassis, Richard S. Grossman & Catherine R. Schenk (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Banking and Financial History (pp. 110-163). Oxford University Press.
Westerhuis, Gerarda, de Jong, Abe & Roell, Ailsa (2015). The Evolving Role of Shareholders in Dutch Corporate Governance. In Keetie Sluyterman (Eds.), Varieties of Capitalism and Business History. The Dutch Case (pp. 50-77). London and New York: Routledge.
Westerhuis, Gerarda & David, Thomas (2014). Comparing Corporate Networks in a Long Term Perspective. In Thomas David & Gerarda Westerhuis (Eds.), The Power of Corporate Networks. A Comparative and Historical Perspective (pp. 1-28). London and New York: Routledge.
Westerhuis, Gerarda (2014). The Dutch Corporate Network: Considering its Persistence. In Thomas David & Gerarda Westerhuis (Eds.), The power of corporate networks - a comparative and historical perspective (pp. 89-106) (18 p.). New York: Routledge.
Dilli, S.D. & Westerhuis, G.K. (2018). How Institutions and Gender Differences in Education Shape Entrepreneurial Activity: A Cross-national Perspective. Small Business Economics
Westerhuis, G.K. & de Jong, Abe (2015). Denken en praktijk van financiering en governance in de twintigste eeuw. Economisch Statistische Berichten, 100 (4723), (pp. 712-715) (4 p.).
Westerhuis, G.K. & de Jong, Abe (28-11-2015). Essay: ABN Amro zet certificaten weer in bij verkoop. Het Financieele Dagblad
Westerhuis, Gerarda & Kipping, Matthias (2014). The Managerialization of Banking: From Blueprint to Reality. Management and Organizational History, 9 (4), (pp. 374-393).
Westerhuis, Gerarda & Kipping, Matthias (2012). Strategy, Ideology, and Structure: The Political Processes of Introducing the M-form in two Dutch Banks. Advances in Strategic Management, 29 (special issue), (pp. 187-237).
Westerhuis, G.K., Driel, van, H. & Jong, de, A. (2011). Family involvement, innovation and growth. A PLS and case survey analysis. Working Paper Series
Westerhuis, G.K. (2011). Multinationals en het managen van buitenlandse dochterondernemingen. Een historische onderzoek naar de relatie tussen ABN AMRO en LaSalle. Tijdschrift voor Sociale en Economische Geschiedenis, 8 (1), (pp. 83-110) (28 p.).
Westerhuis, G.K., Dul, J., Hak, T. & Jong, de, A. (2011). Necessary condition analysis and M&A success. Working Paper Series
Jong, de, A., Sluyterman, K.E. & Westerhuis, G.K. (2011). Strategic and structural responses to international dynamics in the open Dutch economy, 1963-2003. Businesss History, 53 (1), (pp. 63-84) (22 p.).
Westerhuis, G.K., Larson, M.J., Schnyder, G. & Wilson, J. (2011). Strategic responses to global challenges: the case of European banking, 1973-2000. Businesss History, 53 (1), (pp. 40-63) (24 p.).
Westerhuis, G.K. & David, D. (2011). The evolution of corporate networks: a comparison between the Netherlands and Switzerland, 1903-2008. Working Paper Series
Westerhuis, G.K. & Jong, de, A. (2011). The individual manager and the transfer of "corporate fashions": measuring the effects of the Dutch corporate network, 1948-2003. Working Paper Series
Westerhuis, G.K., Jong, de, A. & Röell, A. (2010). Changing national business systems: corporate governance and financing in the Netherlands, 1945-2005. Business History Review, 84 (4), (pp. 773-798) (26 p.).
  Working paper
Westerhuis, G.K. (2015). Company law reforms and institutional change - A gradual shift from shareholder rights to insider control (and back again).
Westerhuis, Gerarda, Fliers, Philip & de Jong, Abe (2014). The Effect of Dutch Big Linkers on Corporate Policies and Performance, 1908-2003.
Westerhuis, Gerarda, David, Thomas & Schnyder, Gerhard (2012). The Banking Elite as Driver for Institutional Changes in the Netherlands and Switzerland (1950s-2000s).
Westerhuis, Gerarda (2012). The Corporate Governance of Dutch Business. From Shareholder Rights to Insider Control.
  Doctoral thesis 1 (Research UU / Graduation UU)
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Afgesloten projecten

Unraveling the origins of a banking crisis: changing perceptions of risk and managerial beliefs in Dutch banking, 1957-2007 01-04-2013 tot 01-04-2017
Algemene projectbeschrijving

The current banking crisis asks for a deeper understanding of its causes. Most research focuses on recent years directly preceding the crisis, meaning that policies addressing the crisis and preventing its recurrence will also be based on a short-term analysis. The real causes of the crisis are the result of a long process in which banks changed from risk avoidance to risk seeking. This was not a clear-cut process, but a complex interaction of institutions and beliefs that influenced the banking business in general and perceptions about how to manage banks and risk in particular.

The proposed project aims to unravel the long-term origins of the recent crisis, by focusing on the underlying drivers of these changes through an in-depth examination of the beliefs of the main actors. Such a study of belief systems is based on the notion of “performativity”, which suggests that the language of science, in this case economic science, not only describes how markets and organizations work, but also influences and frames them.

After examining changes in banking strategies and performance, the project analyzes these belief systems in three steps: (i) the adoption of beliefs about “manageable” risk by top bankers and how this influenced bank strategies and institutions, (ii) the effect of these changing beliefs on the internal bank organizations, with an emphasis on the decentralization of decision-making and HRM policies; and (iii) the belief in mathematical models to manage risks and its effect on internal risk management practices.

The project is based on a study of the Dutch banking sector since the late 1950s. It will track the actual changes based on longitudinal data and examine the main actors and institutions driving these changes, relying on archival research and interviews to uncover the underlying beliefs behind their actions.

Rol: Uitvoerder Financiering
2e geldstroom - NWO: Veni grant
Bedrijfsleven in Nederland in de 20ste eeuw (BINT) 01-01-2002 tot 01-01-2014
Algemene projectbeschrijving

The national research project Dutch business in the 20th century (Bedrijfsgeschiedenis in Nederland in de Twintigste Eeuw (BINT)) had the competitiveness and changing characteristics of the Dutch business system during the twentieth century as its main focus. The goal was to make an in-depth analysis of the most important elements of the Dutch business system and their adaptation over time to the major economic, social and technological developments of the 20th century. The analysis is internationally comparative because only in this way, the typical Dutch characteristics can be highlighted. The analysis is formed by relevant social theories, particularly, though not exclusively, drawn from institutional economics.

The BINT Projectwas initiated by the Business History Research Group of Utrecht University and its Research Institute. The Netherlands Economic History Archive (NEHA), the Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Foundation for the History of Technology at Eindhoven University also participated.

For more information, have a look at the project website.

Rol: Uitvoerder Financiering
Anders: 1e en 3e geldstroom
Geschiedenis BNG 01-12-2010 tot 01-06-2013
Algemene projectbeschrijving
In opdracht van de Raad van Bestuur van BNG (de Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten) verricht de afdeling Contractonderzoek van het OGC een studie naar de geschiedenis van deze bijzondere bank, die in 2014 precies 100 jaar bestaat. De studie is gestart in december 2010 en zal in 2013 worden afgerond. BNG is een bank van en voor overheden en instellingen voor het maatschappelijk belang. De aandelen zijn geheel in handen van de publieke sector. Om die redenen is BNG een bijzondere bank, een bank met een maatschappelijke functie. Maar al staat winstmaximalisatie niet voorop, BNG is ook een speler op een competitieve markt. De positie in het spanningsveld tussen publieke sector en markt heeft BNG gemaakt tot de bank die het nu is. Het is dan ook deze bijzondere positie die in de studie centraal staat. De veranderingen die zich in de loop van de tijd in deze positie voltrokken hebben worden in de studie geanalyseerd aan de hand van vier deelthema’s, te weten de relaties van BNG met de gemeenten, met een diversiteit aan andere klanten, met het Rijk en met de kapitaalmarkt.  
Rol: Uitvoerder Financiering
3e geldstroom - overig
The Corporate Governance of Dutch business during the 20th century: structural changes and performance 01-01-2007 tot 31-12-2011
Algemene projectbeschrijving

The research aims at contributing to the important societal debate from an economic-historical perspective, on the basis of a study of the long-term performance of the Dutch business system during the 20th century. It consists of four projects. The first three projects investigate corporate governance characteristics: (i) protective devices or takeover defenses; (ii) executives, supervisors and their networks; and (iii) dividend policy and financing. The fourth project is a synthesis in two respects, as it both describes the relations between governance characteristics in the previous projects and relates governance to performance. The synthesis will offer a chronological and thematic account of the development of the governance structure of Dutch business during the 20th century. It will incorporate the results of the other three projects dealing with different aspects of corporate governance, and analyze a number of case studies to show in more detail how the governance mechanisms operated in practice (or in some cases: failed to operate effectively), what the consequences were for performance of those companies and the role played by the different stakeholders. The themes of this project will be dealt with in detail, including the societal discussion about corporate governance and its impact on the actual management structure of Dutch companies.

Rol: Uitvoerder Financiering
2e geldstroom - NWO
Overige projectleden:
  • Abe de Jong (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
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Op dit moment verzorgt dr. Gerarda Westerhuis de volgende cursus(sen):
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For a complete overview, please see my CV

Academic leadership

  • 2015-present: Member of the executive board FIRES project (Horizon2020)
  • 2014-present: Member of the editorial board Business History
  • 2013-present: Book review editor Management & Organizational History
  • 2012-present: Member of the advisory board of the Nederlandsch Economisch-Historisch Archief (NEHA), Amsterdam
  • 2008-2015: Coordinator, BINT research project. Project examines the competitiveness and changing characteristics of the Dutch business system during the 20th century, involving various Dutch universities and researchers
  • 2008-2014: Chair of the Dutch Association of Business History
  • 2009-2011: Project manager (with prof. K.E. Sluyterman) of N.W. Posthumus research program on The evolution of national business systems


Organization of conferences, workshops and seminars

  • 2014: European Business History Association (EBHA) conference, Utrecht University. Member of the Local Organizing Committee, the Program Committee and the Best Paper Prize Committee; 200-250 participant.
  • 2012: International conference on Corporate Networks, University of Lausanne. Co-organizer (30+ participants)
  • 2011: Weekly Economic and Social History lunch seminars, Utrecht University. Organizer and chair (20-30 participants)
  • 2010: International conference on Corporate Networks, Utrecht University. Organizer (30+ participants)
  • 2008-14: Various business history seminars, Utrecht University. Organizer and chair (35-40 participants)
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Volledige naam
dr. G.K. Westerhuis Contactgegevens
Drift 6

Drift 6
Kamer 1.19

Telefoonnummer direct 030 253 1623
Drift 6

Drift 6
Kamer 1.19

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Laatst bijgewerkt op 07-08-2018