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Can INSEAD Really Be Global Without a U.S. Campus?

Eight years on, Jain had silenced his most vocal critics. In 2002, BusinessWeek ranked Kellogg as the No 1 school in the U.S., after having fallen out of first place nearly 10 years earlier. Jain also is credited with establishing a Kellogg campus in Miami, leveraging and strengthening the alumni network, and continuing with Kellogg’s globalization thrust by partnering with leading business schools across the world.

At the end of the day, INSEAD is a completely different challenge. At Kellogg, Jain had the advantage of being an insider and he knew what he was in for – he had joined Kellogg as an assistant professor of marketing in 1986, and became associate dean in 1996, five years before he was picked for the top job. “This time the challenge is more in terms of a different location and a different environment – a European environment as opposed to the American environment I have worked in so far,” he says. “Each place has its own inertia. I am not sure that I understand that here (yet) so there would be a lot of learning for me.”

What has struck Jain the most is the diversity of both the students and the faculty. “In the U.S., most of the top schools have two-thirds American and one-third international students. Here no particular nationality has more than a 10 per cent representation and so every class looks like a mini-United Nations with 70 countries represented,” says Jain.

Adding layers of complexity to this is the fact that INSEAD has three campuses – the original campus in Fontainebleau, France, and two others in Singapore and Abu Dhabi. “This is a very different dean’s job. Here I am not the dean for Fontainebleau, or dean for Abu Dhabi or Singapore. I am the dean for all three,” says Jain. Transitioning across campuses, allocating time for each and building relationships with communities in every place is a formidable task. “Kellogg used to have a partnership with Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). I used to go to Hong Kong just once a year for the graduation or maybe twice a year to talk about some new program. But I never felt like I was running HKUST. When they needed me, we used to talk on the phone,” he says. At INSEAD, of course, he’s required to be in Singapore on a fairly regular basis.

“The U.S. is a big country, too, and somebody can say that the U.S. is also very complex. But still there is a unified culture. But here if you go to Singapore or if you are in Fontainebleau, the type of people you are meeting are very different and their expectations are very different,” says Jain, quickly adding that despite the complexity, he is enjoying his work because it is “not like I am doing the same job again.”

A Different Approach to Globalization

One of Jain’s biggest achievements at Kellogg was globalizing the school. Beginning in 1996, Kellogg set up joint Executive MBA programs with established business schools in Israel, Hong Kong, Canada and Germany. Kellogg, Wharton and London Business School joined hands to create the Indian School of Business (ISB) in 2001 and continues to run joint programs and have faculty exchanges with the ISB. The common thread running through all these partnerships was the globalization of Kellogg through international alliances.

For years, Jain believed that the best way for a school to globalize was through alliances with local partners spread across the world instead of setting up second campuses in new geographies. In that sense, INSEAD is a fundamentally different model from Kellogg and perhaps a challenge to his long-held belief. “Yes, the approaches are different. The learning part for me is how one can use different models to achieve the same outcome – which is to be global,” says Jain.

At the end of the day, setting up a second campus is not easy. It is highly resource-intensive, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of faculty and administration. INSEAD’s own experience with the Asia campus, which was set up in Singapore in 2000, shows that replicating the same environment in a multi-location model is difficult. In the initial years, the Asia campus was viewed as a poor cousin of the parent campus in Fontainebleau. There were problems in shuttling faculty back and forth between the two campuses and generating non-conflicting academic calendars. Apart from that, faculty and students both preferred Fontainebleau to Singapore.