“I may be driven by a deep conviction that people have more potential than their surroundings generally allow them to reveal. Companies, institutions, and schools could achieve so much more if they gave free reign to learning and development. However, it takes courage providing this kind of space and removing the obstacles to autonomy, self-guidance and emancipation takes. What choice do we have? In a knowledge society, all available talent is needed, whatever that talent may be. Making learning and development appealing has become an economic necessity. After all, you cannot be smart against your will.”
- Joseph Kessels has been professor emeritus of Human Resource Development at the University of Twente (2000-2016)
- From 1995- 2000 he held a similar chair at the University of Leiden.
- From 2011 - 2021 he also held the chair of Educational Leadership at the Open University NL.
- Until 2008 he served as Dean of TSM Business School.
- In 1977 he founded Kessels & Smit, The Learning Company, a consultancy firm specializing in HRD topics. Cora Smit and Joseph Kessels stepped back in 2010.
- Joseph Kessels has a specific research interest is in the characteristics of learning environments that support knowledge productivity and that facilitate innovation. Distributed leadership is an important research topic, specifically related to professional development. Social capital and learning in networks play an important role in his research projects.
- As a consultant, he conducts projects for national government bodies, health care, banking, transport, telecom, and industry. He consulted with a number of leading international firms.
- He has been appointed as Advisor of the Korean Academic Society for Professional Management.
- As an advisor, he supported the development of the educational system of Rwanda after the genocide (1994).
- He was key note speaker at the 12th World Knowledge Forum in Seoul Korea, in 2011
- As chairman, he presided the Advisory Board of HayGroup in The Netherlands
- As an academic, he published several books and numerous articles on learning and development in an emerging knowledge economy.
- He co-authored, with Rosemary Harrison, Human Resource Development in a Knowledge Economy (Palgrave Macmillan 2004).
- He served on the editorial boards of HRDI: Human Resource Development International, European Journal of Vocational Training and GJSS: Graduate Journal Social Sciences.