IAE Paris Sorbonne Business School
“Simon was a great young scholar. He was always available for his students and at the same time really made the classroom very challenging! He was teaching data analytics for marketing and spent much time with us on building experiments so that we can get genuine data for our projects. He is clearly one of the best profs I had in my life!” – former student
Simon Porcher, 38, is an Associate Professor at IAE Paris Sorbonne Business School where he is also Scientific Director of the Research Chair on Public-Private Partnerships. He will be promoted to professor this coming September.
Prior to academia, Porcher worked in consulting and for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris. His research focuses on public-private partnerships and on how governments contract with firms to respond to grand challenges such as COVID-19 or integrating refugees. His work has been published in a variety of scientific journals in management including the Journal of Business Ethics, Public Administration Review, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, and European Management Review. He has also been regularly featured in French-speaking media outlets such as Le Monde, Le Figaro, La Tribune, Le Temps and France Info.
He is the winner of the best dissertation and best paper awards from the Academy of Management. Porcher was awarded a Robert Schuman fellowship by the European University Institute, an LSE Fellowship by the London School of Economics, and a Horizon 2020 European Commission grant in 2017.
Porcher created Response2covid19, a tracker of public health and economic responses to COVID-19 all around the world. He played an active part in building a network of researchers on COVID-19 policies, including research teams from Technische Universität München, Oxford University, and Johns Hopkins University, among others.
At current institution since what year? 2015
Education: Ph.D. in Management (IAE Paris), Msc in Economics (Paris School of Economics), MA in Public Affairs (Sciences Po), BA in Economics & Management (Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne)
List of MBA courses you currently teach: Strategy, Data Analytics
TELL US ABOUT LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I was a kid. My father arrived in France from Vietnam when he was 14 and my mother dropped out of school at 14. They both grew up in housing projects in one of the poorest districts of France, where my brother and I were raised too. My parents were really worried about our future. For my 5th birthday, they gave me a sweatshirt that said “University of Paris” to encourage me to pursue a college degree later on. I was trained in social sciences and truly believed that we could find a way to use the companies’ know-how and massive revenues to invest in grand challenges. This is why I became a business school professor: to study these issues and to educate the future managers who will change the world!
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I am currently researching on the different logics of actors – public agencies, firms and social workers – involved in a major social impact bond to integrate refugees in France. I have run field interviews to understand how social workers perceive the performance indicators designed by private firms. It is interesting to see how logics around the definition of “performance” can differ among actors involved in the same business.
If I weren’t a business school professor… I would be working in development aid.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? Energy and student-centric approach. I always come in class with strong positive energy in order to perform well. I also put students’ satisfaction at the core of my teaching: I want students to get out of the class and say “Well, I learned something.”
One word that describes my first time teaching: Acting. I was 25, I taught graduate students aged 22 to 28, so I had to act as if I were legitimate.
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: Being part of a community is very important. People want to see you as part of a research community. And your research community wants to see you as the person using “this” method in particular and working on “this” specific topic.
Professor I most admire and why: I am grateful to Stéphane Saussier, my PhD advisor, but also to Gwyn Bevan and Michael Barzelay who mentored me at the London School of Economics. I am also a great fan of John Rawls’ and Albert Hirschman’s writings.
TEACHING MBA STUDENTS
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? I love the atmosphere in the classroom. It is intellectually challenging and you need to convince students that they will learn something in the next hours.
What is most challenging? Energy management: Teaching is like a live performance, you need to be able to actively rest during the show.
In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Motivated
In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Close-minded
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Fair.
LIFE OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM
What are your hobbies? Thai boxing, traveling and partying with my wife and friends.
How will you spend your summer? Working on research, resting in the South of France with my wife, and presenting papers at different conferences, including at the Academy of Management conference in Seattle.
Favorite place(s) to vacation: The South of France, definitely. There are beautiful beaches and mountains, nice restaurants, and there is a lot of cultural sightseeing to do!
Favorite book(s): “The Bad Girl” by Mario Vargas Llosa, is to me the best love story ever written. For research, I would say “Gang Leader for a day” by sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh, a book that gave me a real taste for research.
What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? “The Wire” is my favorite TV show. It deals with the economics of drugs, management and incentives in public administration and gangs, and it never brings any judgment on the characters.
What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I love American rap music from the 1990s and 2000s, and French pop music!
THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… More teaching and research on social impact. As a business school, we need to recruit more diverse students, not only students working in major companies but also leaders from associations and non-governmental organizations. I also believe that we need to teach students sound decision-making. This is important as many business students get lost in the hype of ‘objects’, e.g. blockchain or non-fungible tokens. In the end, business trends change but good judgment remains the key capability of good managers.
In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… discussing critical issues related to inequality, discrimination, and climate change. All companies are now familiar with these issues but much more work is needed to create social value.
I’m grateful for… being able to work with great colleagues (both academic and administrative staff) and students. We managed to create a competitive and international environment for research and learning in Paris.