Nowadays, the dynamism of a country misjudged not by its history, its monuments or its cuisine, but by its brands, in particular those that spell attraction, modernity and intellectual power. The report submitted to the French prime minister in November 2006 did not disagree: the name of any country is now attached to the image of its centers of intellectual excellence, its universities, its research, its innovative companies, its disincentives, its hi-tech and hi-touch brands – or the lack thereof.
Working on the France brand means asking questions about the foundation of its reputation tomorrow, as a great country of the 21stcentury: that is, as the transmitter of a living, contemporary culture, therefore capable of attracting students from around the world, not only to study philosophy and literature, art history or sociology, as they once did, button study economics, business, management, high and new technologies.
Higher education institutions are now also engaged in a brand war. Revealingly, there are now global comparisons on the quality of universities and business schools – a sign that the market is now global and the evaluators are not French. The same is true for wine. In Europe, the Financial Times draws up the ranking of 55 European business schools. Its2006 ranking is shown in Table below.
The top ten European business schools
1 HEC Paris (France) 2 London Business School (UK) 3 IMD (Switzerland) 4 Institutor de Empresses (Spain) 5 Ese (Spain) 6 ESCP-IAP (France/Germany/Spain/Italy) 7 RSM Erasmus University (Netherlands) 8 Cornfield School of Management (UK) 9 Bradford/Titanium(UK/Netherlands/Germany) 10 Instead (France)
The challenge that European universities must meet is considerable. Their resources are so small that they do not even appear in worldwide evaluations. Like Oxford, the Sorbonne is a true brand, whose reputation has been built over centuries and diffused worldwide. Its excellence in literary studies is well known, carried by the excellence of its professors.
However, an objective analysis of the service that each student receives illustrates that in terms of teaching, as with any brand, the intangible components are not enough. Major financial resources are required to bring today’s teaching up to the standards of global excellence in education.This will be the great challenge for Europe brand: to give its universities the financial resources to shine internationally. If the state cannot do it, then companies must, and therefore it is necessary to change the relationships between companies and the university. This is why the big business schools everywhere have already acquired the status of global brands.
Every country has its star brands: the United States has Harvard and MIT for example, the United Kingdom has Oxford and Cambridge, and China has Singh; in France, HEC and Instead are brands. Of course the United States also has other excellent business schools, as global comparative rankings continue to demonstrate. However, only some of these have additional emotive value, strongly linked to intangible components, the vague feeling of entering into more than simply a university or school, but into avery exclusive and global club.
It is striking to see how globalization poses new problems for educational institutions, which were previously sheltered from it. Like it or not, they must now think like global brands, and give themselves the resources to do so. What is a brand, if not a name with strong influence and power to attract – since their market at least is global? Reputation is the inevitable attraction vector: an aura attached to a name able to bring the world’students and major executives to Europe to round off their education at great expense.
It is therefore necessary to know how to export our qualifications, if Europe wishes to remain in the hunt as a great country .However, globalization requires a complete revision of our certainties, practices and habits. It is now necessary to think globally in order to remain number one.
This global market is now revealed by global judges, who have drawn up their evaluations as objective rankings. In the international evaluation by the Financial Times, considered the reference on business schools the world over (as summarized in Table above), HEC Paris occupies the top European spot, just above he London Business School, IMD in Switzerland and the two Spanish business schools.
Unsteadies the tenth-ranked European business school.In worldwide terms, HEC is now 18th, even ahead of the Kellogg Business School(Northwestern University). This evaluation by the Financial Times is based on a multi-criteria analysis objectifying the performance parameters of each business school, its ability to deliver added value to its students on Alpo, and to executives who go thereto improve their competencies.
These new evaluating authorities define the objective criteria for their judgments: they measure the true added value for each business school. In so doing, they impact the products and the processes.
The discreet but systematic rise of HEC Paris on the world stage is slower than many executives would have liked. The university or school brand is built through its products: it does not flood the media with big promotional campaigns. On the contrary, its ambassadors are the quality and success of its students, hence the importance of selection and the critical mass of the number of former students, and publications by professors in the best scientific management journals, as away of durably impacting managerial thinking.
Professor Philip Bottler has made Northwestern known as a global marketing Mecca, and Michael Porter has strengthened the status of Harvard Business School .Another contribution comes from the reputation of international pedagogical engineering missions by the biggest groups, and the ongoing training of executives worldwide.
Two strategies compared: penetration or skimming off
Reasoning like a brand also leads to drawing inspiration from brand management. From this point of view, we know that to grow in market, there are two main strategies:creaming off or penetration. It is interesting to compare the rapid penetration strategy coffined with the strategy of creaming off the best followed by HEC Paris.
Founded in 1959, Instead chose the strategy of rapid market penetration, capitalizing on the fact that in Europe at the time, the MBA was not a concept that was either known corporatist. Only the fortunate few pursued their studies through an MBA at Harvard or Stanford. In the best business schools in the United States, the country that created the MBA, it takes two years to obtain this prestigious qualification. The first year of the MBA is used for learning management in general, and the second is necessary for specialization and further study, structured individual projects and so on.
For a teaching institution, the rapid penetration strategy consists of acquiring a high market share as quickly as possible, by multiplying the number of students and thereby obtaining a large body of alumni, capable of lobbying within companies to influence their recruitment. As the notion of the MBA was still nebulous in Europe at that time, Instead to deliver its MBA after only one year, which enabled it to produce twice as many graduates as the true Harvard-style MBA, which takes two years. As a further consequence of this rapid penetration strategy, the school considerably increased its class size: it now has440 students per year. Finally, another campus was created in Singapore, to create even more Asian graduates.
The result of this very coherent strategy is that the Instead brand acquired international recognition, and its ‘educational product’ is ranked in tenth place among the business schools of Europe by the Financial Times in2006. Compare this strategy to that of HEC Paris, now ranked number one among European business schools.
Beginning 10 years later in the race towards, HEC followed a strategy of creaming off the best, as this brand required. When you are the guarantor of excellence in your own country, you cannot do otherwise. This is why the HEC MBA was based on the model of the best American: two years were required to deliver quality teaching and to train high-level managers. The size of the first classes was also reduced: the selection of the best students is an integral part of brands of excellence.
Dedicated MBA professors created a unique level of teaching and team spirit. Little by little, the reputation for quality spread .Furthermore, HEC, through its relationship with the Chamber of Commerce, is closely linked to the world of business. The result of this highly coherent strategy, dictated by the desire to maintain the brand equity attached to HEC, is that a worldwide name awareness remains to be constructed, but the experts Human Resources directors, CEO's, the (Financial Times and the like) have recognized the superior quality of the product.