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What many people fail to understand about European business schools, says Carlos Cavallé, is the importance of Christianity.
Prof Cavallé is probably entitled to hold some strong views on European business education. He has been involved in it long enough to form them.
Prof Cavallé will turn 80 next year and has been with Iese Business School in Barcelona since he was 24 years old. Now dean emeritus and professor in the department of general management, he was also the longest serving dean at a high-ranking European school, spending 17 years at the helm of Iese from 1984 to 2001.
His views on the importance of Christianity will come as no surprise to those familiar with Iese’s history. The school was founded by the University of Navarra, which was itself established by the founder of Opus Dei, an institution of the Catholic church.
Prof Cavallé’s outlook is much broader, however, than his time with Iese might suggest. He has served as a chairman of the Graduate Management Admissions Council and later as president of Equis, the European-based accreditation body. He was also integral to the establishment of the Harvard-Iese Committee, which has seen 50 years of co-operation between the two institutions. There is little, in short, that he does not know about management education.
“In the beginning, Europe imitated US business schools, but little by little they became schools with their own identity,” he says.
While some might take issue with Prof Cavallé’s beliefs about the importance of Christianity, they might find it easier to agree with his other fervently held view of the importance of Europe’s diversity of students and culture.
“If we compare Europe with the United States … you cannot find this variety as you find in Europe,” he says.
He points out that between 60 and 80 per cent of students in European schools do not come from the host country and many of them come from outside the continent. Europe, he believes, is where students need to go if they want an international education.
For Prof Cavallé an international outlook must be second nature. His current commitments mean he is regularly dividing his time between the US, Mexico and Spain and while he has less to do at Iese, he does not appear to be slowing down.