One of Frankfurt School’s first contacts with Norma Group came in the context of two international research projects, the High Performance Manufacturing project and the IMSS project to which the manufacturing company contributed. As an international market and technology leader in engineered joining technologies, Norma was an ideal partner for these two projects. The Norma Group manufactures a wide range of innovative engineered joining technology solutions in three product categories: clamp, connect and fluid. Norma Group is headquartered in Maintal near Frankfurt am Main and offers more than 35,000 high-quality products and solutions to more than 10,000 customers in 100 countries. Since April 2011, Norma Group is listed on the German stock exchange and included in the MDAX since March 2013. The company has about 6,000 employees operating a global network of 22 production facilities as well as numerous sales and distribution sites across Europe, the Americas, and the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2012, managers from Norma Group attended training seminars for senior managers at Frankfurt School, some of which were taught by professors that are also involved in the Master of Science in Management. After a brief introduction, Stephan König, head of human resource management at Norma Group and responsible for organizing the trainings, signaled his interest for a closer collaboration. After a short period of time the first student of the Master of Science in Management started his part-time position in Maintal. In this regard, Werner Deggim, CEO of NORMA Group, stated: “It is always a pleasure to work with Frankfurt School, not least because they have put us in touch with highly motivated, well-educated students and graduates who have later joined our company as colleagues. We also very much appreciate the excellent and inspiring theory-practice dialogue we regularly hold with members of the faculty.” But this wasn’t the end of the story.
In 2014, the Manufacturing Management Award was established at Frankfurt School. This award honors the best master theses with topics relating to manufacturing. Norma Group is the first company to grant an award with a prize attached. On October, 24th 2014 Norma’s COO John Stephenson joined the graduation ceremony at Frankfurt’s Paulskirche and presented the prizes to three students of the Master of Science in Management. He stated: “The Frankfurt School is a prestigious business school and is well known for its high educational standards. We attach great importance to supporting university research of topical and relevant industry issues.” At the time of the first students graduating from Frankfurt School’s Master of Science in Management programme, one alumnus had already started his permanent position as assistant to the COO and other students had begun working part-time for Norma Group.
In the beginning of January 2015, Norma Group made the next big step into academia by deciding to fund a new position for a Professor in Manufacturing. This position is significant for Frankfurt School’s development in the important and interesting domain of manufacturing. Professor Dr. Udo Steffens, president of Frankfurt School, highlights the importance of collaboration between practice and science: “At Frankfurt School, we are steadily expanding the range of teaching and research resources devoted to management issues, and by sponsoring an Assistant Professorship, Norma Group is helping us to take another big step forward.” In light of a mutual cooperation Deggim stated: “We watch Frankfurt School’s ongoing development, international expansion and research attainments with the greatest of interest, and it gives us great pleasure to be able to assist the business school in achieving its goals.” This case demonstrates how manufacturing companies can engage in a mutually beneficial relationship with academia. Hopefully, this success story might become a model for other manufacturing companies in the future!