On Thursday 26 April, Prof. Robert Lensink has been appointed Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau. Robert Lensink (Tiel, 1962) is Professor of Finance and Financial Markets at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the UG (80%) and Professor of Finance and Development in the Development Economics Group at Wageningen University and Research (20%). He is universally recognized as an eminent researcher, an inspiring mentor and colleague and an impassioned lecturer with a strong preference for and tireless commitment to Africa and the economy of the developing world in general.
Lensink is seen as a real champion in his discipline both at home and abroad. It is with utter dedication that he devotes his considerable talents to a range of academic projects, partnerships and initiatives. The way in which he gives shape to both of his professorships is typical of him as a person: he does everything to the nth degree and to a very high level. This applies both to the numerous academic publications to his name and to securing external funds for academic research. He supervises many PhD candidates, is often an enthusiastic member of reading committees for other PhD candidates and fulfils his administrative and editorial roles with complete dedication. He is also coordinator or project leader of numerous international research projects on topics such as microfinance in Bolivia, India, Ethiopia, Ghana and Rwanda. Recurring themes in his research are the organization and evaluation of microfinance, entrepreneurship, transparency, poverty, costs, income inequality and economic growth.
Lensink’s groundbreaking achievements can only be found by those who take a good look in the research databases and websites of very different organizations. He does not stop to consider his successes but is always coming up with a plan for the next piece of research or project with completely different people from just about every country in the world: from Africa to Antarctica. He also likes to supervise PhD candidates from developing countries, because he believes that really interesting research can be done there, research that can help improve people’s living conditions and standard of life. What is perhaps most unusual is that his research in developing countries and upcoming markets leads to articles in top economic journals, together with results that directly benefit the inhabitants of these countries.
What is characteristic of Lensink’s work is his great social engagement with developing countries. Like no other, he builds bridges between his academic work at the UG and the world around him. This is evidenced by his participation in public debates and his leading role in research into the evaluation of microfinance in developing countries, one of the key issues in the world. His focus is on sustainability and the importance of economic knowledge in the global perspective. He prefers to look at solutions that are sustainable in the long term too. Furthermore, he is always prepared to do his bit for the community: not only the academics around him, for whom he is always ready with advice and assistance, but also people in developing countries who benefit from the insights of his research into poverty and microfinance.
Lensink also uses the considerable and topical experience gained from his research to promote the development of economic leadership in Africa. He is closely involved in the African Economic Research Consortium, a leading organization that focuses on important countries in Africa and is supported by influential international partner organizations. He has also carried out various activities for the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) in Helsinki. One such activity was to publish the article Financial Sector Development for Growth and Poverty Reduction. This article is about growth and poverty and how to balance these, and which form the financial sector of upcoming economies should take to have an effect on poverty.
Lensink also has a reputation as an exemplary lecturer who is fully committed to his students and PhD candidates and is prepared to travel great distances under very difficult conditions to support people in the field. His research results are of a high quality. PhD students whom he supervises often apply to UG because of him. His talent at linking the different worlds of economics and finance, and his broad vision of economic issues, are of great value to his teaching in general and his students and PhD candidates in particular.
Lensink conducts high-quality academic research. This is clear from his position in RePEc, a ranking by fellow researchers: the quality and volume of his research in the last 10 to 15 years has won him a place in the top five percent of a group of almost 50,000 economics researchers. He also has a particularly high position in international rankings such as Google Scholar Index and the Web of Science H-index. Given the energy with which he keeps tackling new projects, more of these fantastic statistics will undoubtedly follow.
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