The Beta research school has a thematic focus. Several scientific disciplines contribute to a deeper understanding of a specific phenomenon: the performance of operational processes. Operational processes convert inputs, such as materials and information, into outputs, such as products, services or again information. This takes place through a transformation system that consists of an organized set of resources, information processing systems and human competencies in one workspace or a network of workspaces. Operational processes are the primary processes of manufacturing, service, and distribution organizations, and are the means to achieve the goals of these organizations in terms of costs, quality, and time. More specifically, those goals can be defined as:
• Conformance to specification of the output of the primary process (quality and reliability).
• Satisfaction of volume and timing requirements for the output of the primary process (timeliness and service levels).
• Optimal use of resources and materials in the primary process (costs and risks).
Choosing the performance of operational processes as the object of study, Beta is a multidisciplinary research school. Each scientific discipline involved contributes to the understanding of the performance of operational processes by its own disciplinary body of knowledge, expressed in terms of methodologies, theories, models and tools. This strong scientific basis for the analysis of operational processes enables the development of principles for the design of operational processes. Within Beta, the design process itself is considered a multidisciplinary scientific subject. This implies that Beta research has a partial engineering focus, yielding research methodologies, theories, models and tools for effective and efficient design of operational processes.
The effectiveness of an operational process typically relates to the time and quality goals mentioned above, whereas the efficiency of an operational process relates to cost goals. In itself, the setting of goals implies that control of operational processes is required to achieve them. Beta research shows a strong emphasis on the control of operational processes, whether automated or through human activity. The control process itself is also considered an operational process that requires in-depth study from both a scientific mono-disciplinary point of view and an engineering multidisciplinary point of view.
The above leads to the following definition of Beta’s mission:
Beta’s mission is to carry out practically and scientifically relevant research into the analysis, design and control of operational processes (Operations Management for short), as these occur in both industrial and service organizations, leading to both creation of societal value and scientific value. In this capacity, Beta aims to be the top international research school in Europe, offering a PhD program in Operations Management and leading-edge sponsored PhD research to industry and governmental institutions.
By incorporating 'practical relevance' into the mission, Beta wants to express explicitly that its research is inspired by operational processes as they occur in real life and eventually research outcomes should contribute to performance improvement of real-life operational processes. Beta research should eventually contribute to a sustainable economic growth. We find many examples of such contributions in diverse application areas such as governmental services, telecommunications, transport and manufacturing. This is recognized by research sponsors.
According to Dutch legislation, Beta’s primary objective as a research school is the education of PhD students. In order to educate PhD students to the level of internationally recognized junior researchers in the field of operations management, the education program is derived from the research program of Beta.