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My Visit to France: On Boards, Business Schools and a Big Red Balloon

Posted By Page Schindler Buchanan, Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Guy Pfeffermann


QUIZ: What do these pictures have to do with management education and development?


L Coupole du Printemps


Grenoble View


The one with the red balloon shows the Brasserie du Printemps, which sits atop the famed Paris department store. The Council on Business & Society's inaugural international forum gathered there to dinner November 16.

The Council is a global alliance of schools of management that involves faculty, students, business leaders and policy makers. The founding members are ESSEC Business School (a GBSN member); Keio Business School; School of Management, Fudan University; Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth (a GBSN member); and University of Mannheim, Business School. ESSEC's Pierre Tapié hosted the first International Forum, and the four other Deans participated actively. The next Forum will be hosted in Tokyo in early 2014.

The first International Forum's theme: "Corporate Governance and Leadership -- Business Performance and Responsibility" is highly relevant to the developing world, as the relationship between business, government and society is vital to successful economic and social development.

Specific themes discussed at the inaugural forum will also resonate in the developing world. I found the panel discussion about women on boards particularly relevant and enlightening. Viviane de Beaufort of ESSEC summarized her research about "Women and their relationship to power: still a taboo or a new corporate governance model?" (See the presentation here) While there are different opinions concerning the usefulness of quota for female board members, there was not the slightest doubt that mixed-gender boards operate more effectively.

In another panel, Peter Solmssen, General Council, Siemens, gave a riveting account of massive corruption and how it was overcome. I was struck in particular by his observation that bribes did not result in additional sales. Future forums may focus on such issues as health management, again of great import to the developing world.


The second picture is a view from Grenoble, where I had the pleasure of meeting Dean Loïck Roche and many of his team. Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM) joined GBSN after the Delhi conference this year.

Established initially to impart management skills to engineers of companies based in Dauphiné, GEM runs some 40 programs ranging from Masters in Fashion, Design and Luxury Management to a Doctorate in Business Administration program, which emphasizes applied research and is therefore of particular interest to developing world candidates. GEM is engaged in training-of-trainers, notably by means of its University Lecturers' Skill Enhancement Program.

GEM is deeply involved not only with BRIC countries, but also with other parts of the developing world, most notably Africa. It partners with Morocco's ESCA (a GBSN member) in the Institut Euro-Africain de Management based in Casablanca,whose tag line is "Educating Leaders for Africa". GEM undertook programs funded by the European Union under PAPTE (Programme d'aide et d'assistance aux pays tiers et émergents) in countries including Romania, Tunisia, Cameroon, Senegal, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon and Benin. GEM's joint DBA program with India's Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad (a GBSN member) is another example of long-term cooperative capacity building.

Together with other European schools, GEM is engaged in creating a common Masters in Entrepreneurship and International Development in Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, strengthening local teaching capacity and offering common executive education programs. GEM also runs courses with Nigeria's Petroleum Technology Development Fund involving training of local trainers.

I found these visits very energizing. They brought home to me vividly once again the wealth of energy, talent, experience and interest in collaborating with the developing world of GBSN member schools.


Guy Pfeffermann is the CEO and founder of the Global Business School Network.

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