50 Years of the Harvard-IESE Committee
Driving the development of management education
On October 9, 1963 the Harvard-IESE Committee, a council that brought together two business schools, was established. These days, a committee made up of two organizations is nothing out of the ordinary. However, back in the early 1960s, creating an academic committee was something of a novelty. The exchange of professors between universities was commonplace, but establishing a council was at the time a much more ambitious idea.
In March 1963, Harvard professor Franklyn E. Folts spent a month at IESE giving classes and helping to establish the Master’s which would be the first full-time, two-year MBA program in Europe, similar to the one taught at Harvard. In October of that same year, the Harvard- IESE Committee met for the first time in Boston and presented IESE’s new program that began in 1964.
But why a committee? Prof. Félix Huerta thought it was important to have a council made up of IESE and Harvard professors so that the school could be assessed in both academic and practical matters.
The Harvard-IESE Committee was created with the aim of helping to set up the Master’s in Business Management Program. It was originally called the "Advisory Committee of the Master’s Program," although from the beginning it had a wider scope.
Over time it has developed to become a forum for reflection in which IESE and Harvard share experiences, exchange ideas and projects, discuss common problems and offer each other new perspectives, says Prof. W. Carl Kester. He says that the "benefits are mutual" and highlights the fact that Harvard learns a lot from IESE. It’s a much smaller school than HBS, he says and therefore more flexible, but the two schools "share the same DNA."
Prof. Pedro Nueno says that: "Practically all of the expansion and innovation projects at IESE have been discussed at the Committee. The Committee was an opportunity to debate everything that seemed to us to be in the vanguard of management. We called it leading edge issues in management." Prof. Carlos Cavallé says that, thanks to the Committee, IESE has been able to take "giant steps, such as initiating the English section of the full-time MBA in the 1980s; the expansion of schools in Central and South America, with the support of IESE; the establishment of the chapters of the Alumni Association, which are now the strongest in the world; the creation of the International Advisory Board; the launch of Executive Education international programs and the establishment of academic chairs and research centers. One way or another, all of this has passed through the Committee."
Reviewing the topics discussed in the Committee is like taking a journey through the evolution of business schools over the past 50 years. In an article in the magazine IESE Insight, Prof. Cavallé talks about the fundamental concepts and practices in management that the Harvard-IESE alliance has presided over during the past 50 years.