US business schools see the world

Roger Trapp looks at cross-border joint initiatives designed to prepare managers for international posts
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The Independent Online
BUSINESS SCHOOLS in the US traditionally have not been noted for their internationalism. However, times are changing: the schools are attracting more overseas students, and American participants are looking increasingly likely to take advantage of international options.

Nor is it just the MBA programmes that are heading in a direction travelled long ago by the European schools - especially the British ones. Executive courses are also taking on an international flavour.

A couple of years ago, Chicago's Graduate School of Business launched a scheme under which its faculty would travel to Barcelona to teach managers from European companies for part of the year.

Now, its neighbour, the J L Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, believes it is going further by setting up joint ventures with established schools in certain territories. It has, for instance, already helped set up a school in Bangkok.

Building on alliances designed to supply joint MBA programmes, it is launching an executive programme with the IAE Aix-en-Provence business school in France. It is, says the school, a recognition of the rapid globalisation of industry in recent years.

Kellogg - which, although it is little known in Britain, has been consistently among the top-ranked American business schools - says it is aiming the programme at European managers with a minimum of 10 years' work experience.

The course is due to start next January, and Kellogg says it expects participants to have an average age of 38 to 39. This is much the same as those who go through its hugely successful executive management programme at the purpose-built James L Allen Center on its Evanston campus, on the outskirts of Chicago.

In particular, Kellogg believes that the course will appeal to managers who are earmarked to move into an international senior management position within three to four years. It is designed to help companies equip such managers for the challenges awaiting them in these roles, and is not, it adds emphatically, "for young professionals at the beginning of their careers or in their second jobs".

The two-year, part-time programme will take place at three locations. All four of the residential weeks in the first year and three of the four in the second will be held at IAE's base in Aix-en-Provence, under the direction of Olivier Tabatoni, associate dean and professor of finance.

The final residential week will be spent at Kellogg's James L Allen Center, under the charge of Ed Wilson, associate dean of master's degree programmes, while weekend sessions will be organised by Sybren Tijmstra, IAE's professor of international management, in Brussels.

The total fees of $48,000 (pounds 31,170) include everything except travel to and from the programme sites. Not surprisingly, therefore, the organisers say all participants will be sponsored. Donald Jacobs, Kellogg's longstanding dean, envisages the majority being backed by large companies, and just a few being self-funded individual entrepreneurs.

The publicity for the programme bills it as "the best of both worlds" - a notion backed up by the histories of the two establishments involved. As befits its lofty ranking, Kellogg is one of the most sought-after American business schools. The Allen Center, which is booked up for the whole of this year and next, has 6,000 applicants for the 590 places on its MBA programme.

IAE, on the other hand, is the oldest business school in France and was the first in the French university system to offer a doctor of management course.

There are personal reasons for the involvement of the two organisations. IAE was founded by Tabatoni's father, Pierre, who is an old colleague of Dean Jacobs. "He's going to teach again, so there's a lot of nostalgia for us," Dean Jacobs said.