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The cri de coeur of many a business school these days is that it must have an international outlook. ESCP-EAP European School of Management could argue that it is ahead of the game, given that it has five campuses in European cities.

With such an international approach it believes it develops business leaders with multicultural skills.

“Our strategy is to be a multi-domestic business school,“ says Jean-Louis Scaringella, dean.

“Our vision and strategy is to expose students and faculty to the diversity of the world and Europe.” The school has headquarters in Paris but has campuses in London, Berlin, Madrid and Turin. The Turin campus opened last year.

“It was not in the business plan, but it was consistent with the vision and strategic intent,” admits Prof Scaringella. The school has links with Turin university and the opportunity arose, he says.

Each campus maintains a local identity and ESCP-EAP students are expected to study on several campuses.

“When in Germany we don’t want to replicate the London campus. They are not clones,” explains Prof Scaringella. The campuses establish cross-border learning opportunities and help create managers who can engage with the diversity of Europe.

Prof Scaringella is open to the idea of more campuses, but has no concrete plans. Associate campuses in other continents are also a possibility.

The dean admits that the multi-site approach can have its down side. Skirmishes over salary differentials between faculty members or a lack of research assistants have required his diplomatic intervention. But he feels this is small price to pay if the school can be “a multi-entry gateway to management education in Europe”.

The school holds Equis and AACSB accreditation and its MBA programme and Masters in European Business programme are also accredited by the Association of MBAs.

ESCP’s proud boast is that it was the first school in France to offer business studies when it was founded in 1819. Whereas EAP is a relative newcomer – it was established in 1973 and championed cross-border management education in Europe. Under their parent organisation – the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry – the two merged in September 1999 to form an integrated management school.

The school has a portfolio of management programmes: masters and specialised masters, executive specialised masters, a masters in European Business, a PhD programme and an MBA. “We try to be present in all the scope of activities,” says Jerome Bon, deputy dean in charge of degree programmes. The school’s 125 full-time faculty teach across all programmes. “We think the quality of teaching is better when faculty are exposed to different students,” he adds.

In January the school will launch its revamped MBA. The 12-month, full time MBA and 18-month EMBA are being replaced by an 18-month MBA programme. Full-time participants can take the core of the programme over six months within the 18-month framework, before moving on to the electives. Alternatively, students can study weekly or monthly. In addition, participants will be expected to follow week-long seminars in different parts of the world. They will mix with each other during their studies and all will be expected to attend every campus.

“It is one programme, but different tracks,” explains Prof Bon. The full-time MBA market is a very difficult one he adds, with not only a decrease in applications, but also a decrease in the quality of applications.

“We wanted to offer something new. Demand is decreasing because we are not best answering the needs of people. So we asked ourselves ‘What kind of innovation can we introduce to this market?’.

“We wanted to supply countries with better management and also something to fit with our strengths.” The school has a strong EMBA, he adds, is international and offers variety and diversity. The revamped MBA will combine all these elements and will be delivered in ways suited to today’s market. On the full-time programme the experience criteria will be tightened and students will be expected to have at least five years work experience.

The market for custom programmes is buoyant says Marie-Christine Bert, head of custom programmes. This year, turnover for custom programmes is approaching €5m, compared with €3m for 2004 and the school is currently running more than 120 custom programmes across all its campuses.

Why has the school captured so much of the market? The answer is simple says Ms Bert: “We think European, we design with a European mind and deliver with European faculty. In order to have a truly multi-cultural programme we use our resources.” The school also runs open programmes although it has experience a downturn in the market in recent months.

ESCP-EAP is justifiably proud of its Masters in Management/Grande Ecole programme – which came second in the Financial Times Masters in Management 2005 ranking.

The programme has an average GMAT of 676 and although it has no plans for growth, Delphine Manceau, associate dean for the programme, anticipates the calibre of students will improve as the Bologna accord is fully implemented. The school is building faculty resources in its new campus in London. ESCP-EAP moved from Oxford just over a year ago to be closer to the City and the UK and international companies based there. Ultimately the school wants up to 20 full-time faculty at the London campus, although the global shortage of quality faculty is causing headaches.

ESCP-EAP is fortunate to have the backing of the Paris Chamber of Commerce, its parent organisation, which has invested more than €40m in the school’s Paris, Berlin and London campuses, but additional funds are needed and in June, ESCP-EAP alumni launched the European Foundation.

Prof Scaringella is confident that ESCP-EAP will go from strength to strength. “Our vision of the world is of an interconnected world based on differences and diversities and the intention of the school is to provide the high potential managers of the future,” he says.

With its broad portfolio, multi-campuses, strong financial backing and its willingness to innovate and respond to the market, ESCP-EAP would appear to be well placed to respond to the challenges and opportunities the Bologna accord will present.

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