Bocconi Joins B-School Global Network

SDA Bocconi School of Management in Italy

SDA Bocconi School of Management, the leading business school in Italy and one of the top European players in business education, is joining the Global Network for Advanced Management. Bocconi is one of three new schools, including the University of New South Wales in Sydney, the group’s first Australian member, and Strathmore Business School in Nairobi, Kenya, that will bring the total number of network members to 32 institutions on six continents.

The brainchild of Yale School of Management Dean Ted Snyder, who is in the middle of a sabbatical, the network allows member schools to co-develop and share teaching materials, week-long immersion trips, online classes, research, global management case studies, and faculty, When it was launched in April of 2012, the Global Network had 21 members. The last school to join before the new trio was Oxford University’s Said Business School in January of last year (see Oxford Joins Global Network Of B-Schools).

Bocconi will join an already strong contingent of European schools in the network that now include INSEAD, IMD, HEC Paris, IE Business School, ESMT Berlin, University College Dublin, and the London School of Economics. As an Italian member, we complete the lineup of major European countries, and we bring our experience in designing joint international and tailor-made programs, said Bocconi Dean Giuseppe Soda in a statement. “The Global Network is the perfect forum to share best practices and develop new joint initiatives in advanced management education. We particularly prize the network’s truly global outreach.”


Yale SOM’s David Bach

Despite the addition of three new schools, David Bach, deputy dean at Yale SOM, says the network doesn’t expect a major growth spurt. “We have no ambition of becoming a United Nations, he says. “We are aware that each new member school adds a lot to the network, but complexity also increases. The consensus is not many more and only when there is a strong case where having a new member increases the opportunities for everyone in the network.”

Bach says the network is working well. Thus far, 5,000 students have spent another week on a the campus of a network member, and 1,000 students have taken an online class with a faculty member from a network school. The organization is about to launch its third version of a global virtual team exercise in which 650 students from schools at network schools in France, Ireland, Mexico and the U.S. will work together on cross-national teams. This March, students at member schools can participate in one of 18 global network weeks on topics that range from eco tourism in the Philippines to the future of agri business in Ireland or tech and entrepreneurship in China or innovation in Japan.

“There is a lot of diversity and the topics aren’t doing business in Brazil or Indonesia,” says Bach. “It’s more substantive. All of this is happening with minimal bureaucracy and no money changing hands,” he notes. “The network has become exactly what we hoped: an innovation platform for the members with low transaction costs because there is a lot of trust.”


There’s also evidence that the network is having a positive impact on admission decisions at many schools. A recent October, 2017, survey of more than 3,000 current MBA students from the 29 member schools found that 36% said their school’s membership in the network was a reason for their decision to apply and/or enroll, up from 32% a year earlier.

At Yale, the survey findings were especially encouraging. Some 49% of SOM students said the network was a factor in their decision to come to Yale, and at some other schools, it tipped the 50% mark. Network membership was found to be a factor for more than 50% of respondents at UBC Sauder, Hitotsubashi ICS, Koç and Renmin, and Fudan. “The “network effect” is overall a little bit lower at the higher ranked European schools, but that is in large part because students their have a myriad of global options that feature prominently in the schools’ pitches to prospects,” says Bach.

New schools to the network have to experience a little of what applicants to their MBA programs do: They have to write a two-page essay on why they want to join, what they expect to contribute, and what they expect to get out of it. “The essay helps them articulate where they want to start so that facilitates on boarding,” says Bach. “We engage with program directors about opportunities and encourage them to make many opportunities available to their students as quickly as possible. We have a Dean and Directors meeting this May, but we also have Skype calls about specific opportunities.”


Bocconi, says Bach, “reached out to us and to a couple of different global network schools and started conversations with us. It’s clearly the best school in Italy, and they have distinctive competencies closely tied into the innovation and design cluster in Northern Italy. Even though they have an office of international programs, we still felt they thought the global network had a lot to offer.”

Strathmore Business School will be the network’s fourth African member, but the first in East Africa. “There is a lot happening in east africa, not just in kenya, and strathmore is the leading school in east africa. We reached out to the dean and asked if they would be interested in applying for membership. We’re excited to have them in the network.”

Since the start of the network, Bach says the group has been looking for a member in Australia. Now that the University of New South Wales is aboard, they have representation there. “This is one case where for one time we had been conscious of the fact that we didn’t have a global network school in Australia,” adds Bach. “The leading schools there have been going through a variety of mergers. So we waited a little bit and put signals out and the University of New South Wales responded.”

In a statement, Yale SOM Dean and Global Network Chair Ted Snyder said of the new member schools: “I warmly welcome our three new Global Network member schools. Support for adding these three standout schools was unanimous. All current members represented at our 12th Deans and Directors Meeting in Hong Kong felt that the three new member schools will enhance the opportunities for students, faculty, staff and alumni across the network, and we look forward to including Strathmore, SDA Bocconi School of Management, and UNSW Business School stakeholders in our programs and initiatives.”


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