JIBS Sets a Record for Sweden

2015-12-30

Once in a while, we must forget our Swedish modesty and take the streets (and the Internet) to boast loudly and publically about ourselves, especially when it demonstrates a hard-won achievement that we all can be proud of!

In this case, it’s the fact Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) has become the first and only business school in Sweden to achieve the distinction of being “double accredited.”  In 2015, JIBS received both theEQUIS and AACSB accreditations, an amazing feat, given that these two accreditations are both extremely difficult to earn and that we won them both in the very short period of time of a year.

Full story in my 27 December 2015 article “JIBS Sets a Record for Sweden” at www.vertikals.se – JIBS’ blog on entrepreneurship, renewal and ownership.


Into Africa

2015-07-23

Over the last few years my business schools, JIBS, has developed close relationships with two Eastern African countries, Ethiopia and Rwanda, to help increases their long-term “economic complexity” and thereby create widespread prosperity. At JIBS we call it our “Into Africa” strategic initiative and our means is higher education, especially PhD education.

In the latest issue of AACSB‘s BizEd magazine, I contributed an article about what we do and how we plan to increase our African engagement. I call it The PhD Effect:

http://www.bizedmagazine.com/archives/2015/3/features/the-phd-effect/

Last week a group of JIBS faculty and JIBS PhD candidates from Rwanda contributed to the 1st Conference in Kigali on Recent Trends in Economic Development, Finance and Management Research in Eastern Africa, co-hosted by JIBS and our partners in University of Rwanda.

The conference included some 70 paper presentations and attracted 200 contributors from several East African countries. Following this initiative, I took part of the 1st Business and Economic Regional Summit, again hosted by University of Rwanda and JIBS. At the end of the summit five business schools deans signed a MOU on The Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Development Initiative, which includes research collaboration, policy advice, education and private sector development in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda (see photo below). JIBS has the pleasure and privilege to coordinate these activities and for us that means a further boost to our Into Africa strategic initiative. In fact it just became Into Africa 2.0.

2015-05-08 Signing the Entrepreneurship and Innovation for DevelopmentInitiative (EID)

All of this is in line with JIBS three guiding principles: International at Heart – Entrepreneurial in Mind – Responsible in Action.

 


Reflections on the future of business schools and elephants

2015-07-23

Higher Education today is like the parable of the 3 blind men and the elephant; there is an elephant in the room—and it’s a good thing; and we need to make changes of an elephantine nature.

Full text in my 28 January 2015 guest blog for European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) “Reflections on the future of business schools and elephants.

EFMD is a management development network serving over 800 member organisations from academia, business, public service and consultancy in 81 countries. It is a unique forum for information, research, networking and debate on innovation and best practice in management development.

 


The Renaissance We Need in Business Education

2014-07-03

Having taught at five business schools over several decades and served as Dean of two, I have come to a conclusion: The educational institutions where our future business leaders are being trained must be recalibrated and transformed dramatically.

Business education today is anachronistic in both how it is conducted and what its content focuses on. Our brick institutions have in no way caught up with what today’s technologies make possible in terms of virtual learning and individualized, customized instruction. More importantly, business education needs to evolve once again, revising its goals to educate leaders of the future who have a new set of skills: sustainable global thinking, entrepreneurial and innovative talents, and decision-making based on practical wisdom.

Full text in my 2 July 2014 article “The Renaissance We Need in Business Education” in Harvard Business Review.


The Changing Business of Business Schools

2014-02-25

I think it’s time for us to admit that the critics have a valid question: Why aren’t business schools changing faster to keep up with changes in the business world?

Full story in my25 February 2014 guest blog “The Changing Business of Business School“.

 

EFMD is a management development network serving over 800 member organisations from academia, business, public service and consultancy in 81 countries. It is a unique forum for information, research, networking and debate on innovation and best practice inmanagement development.


Making the good even better: reforming a business school

2014-02-15

You are probably not very familiar with Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) or its Swedish name Internationella Handelshögskolan but our goal is that within five years you will be…..over the last two years my colleagues and I have carefully begun to reform Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) in Sweden along its basic business dimensions.

Full story in my January 2014 article “Making the Good even Better” in Global Focus, 2014, 9(1), pp. 48-51. Here I describe and discuss the transformations made to renew the pioneering and entrepreneurial strategy and culture of this unique Swedish business school.

The issue of Global Focus was published in conjunction with the annual 2014 Dean and Director General Conference, attracting more than 300 business school leaders from around the globe.


The Lost European Dream

2011-12-15

The Lisbon Strategy have failed but the intentions must remain.

In 2004 Jeremy Rifkin optimistically described the emergence and evolution of the European Union and presented it as an alternative to the philosophical, social, economic and political system of the US. He contrasted the “harder” American Dream of individual accumulation of wealth with the “softer” connectivity and respect for human rights that he argued defined the European alternative. Rifkin argued that the European soft power should be able to win greater influence in the long-term at considerably less expense. Europe, once more he said, would have critical importance to the global future but this time as a positive force for humanity.

This optimistic thesis The European Dream reflected real progress among the member countries at that time.  With new members lined up and plans drawn up for further monetary, political and social integration it is easy to understand the hope the EU inspired throughout the world. In fact, in many parliaments and boardrooms at that time decision makers throughout the world expected Europe to invent a new industrial model that would result in a better world than the one known from the industrial revolution and manifested by the hard capitalism of the US.  Rifkin summarized his hope: Europe has become a giant laboratory for rethinking humanity’s future and the world is watching. The contrast with the sad European realities of today is striking.

The good intentions of the Lisbon Strategy

Let’s go back a decade when the renowned Lisbon Strategy (or Agenda) from 2000 boosted the EU self-confidence. At that time European leaders realized that innovation is the engine of economic change, that knowledge-based economic development is a must and that sustainability ought to become a basic parameter of economic development.The EU leaders boldly stated that:

  1. The European Union is confronted with a quantum shift resulting from globalisation and the challenges of a new knowledge-driven economy. These changes are affecting every aspect of people’s lives and require a radical transformation of the European economy. The Union must shape these changes in a manner consistent with its values and concepts of society and also with a view to the forthcoming enlargement.
  2. The rapid and accelerating pace of change means it is urgent for the Union to act now to harness the full benefits of the opportunities presented. Hence the need for the Union to set a clear strategic goal and agree a challenging programme for building knowledge infrastructures, enhancing innovation and economic reform, and modernising social welfare and education systems.

The aim of the Lisbon agreement  was to make the EU “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion” by 2010. Yesterday  I quoted this sentence to a visitor from Asia and we both agreed it felt a bit odd to even say it in view of the current Euro mess.  Never-the-less, at that time this strategy intended to strengthen the EU economy, create employment and promote social policies in line with Rifkin’s softer approach, which would drive economic growth even more. All in all, the Lisbon Agenda resulted in many new policy initiatives to be taken by all EU member states and has been the foundation for the development of the EU over the last decade. And it did strengthen Europe but in an uneven way.

The end of the party

In 2007, the EU was still celebrating a welcome economic upswing after five years of positive growth and optimism. In a region long blighted by joblessness, the rate of unemployment had fallen to its lowest level since the early 1980s. But then the international crisis hit. So profound was the crisis that many of the Lisbon Agenda’s key targets and principles have been loosened or suspended. The consequence is that less than only seven years after Rifkin’s book was published our decision makers have been unable to realize the many good intentions from Lisbon. The European Dream has become a reality only for a few, an illusion for some and nightmare for many. As I write this article the COP 17 meeting in Durban is heading for another mega-disappointment and the EU leaders are alone in their want to do more than the Kyoto Protocol calls for.

Already in the 2008 Simon Tilford and Philip Whyte published the report Lisbon scorecard: How to emerge from the wreckage in which they provided a harsh analysis of the performance of the Lisbon strategy. “Picking through the wreckage of the past year, it is legitimate to ask what remains of the EU’s Lisbon agenda”  they bluntly said in their introduction. The implicit assumption of the Lisbon strategy was that Europe’s main challenges are on the supply side, but that doesn’t make sense. Leaning on Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman they argue that while supply side factors are the key determinants of a country’s prosperity, measures to improve the supply side will “…do little to lift the EU (or the rest of the world) out of its current hole.”  Why? Because the short-term challenge is the demand side and the Lisbon Agenda doesn’t provides any tools for influencing  business cycles, demand and the global dynamics driving it. Today, three years after this report, virtually all EU governments continue to struggle with this demand side.

How do the EU countries score a decade after Lisbon? With some Scandinavian exceptions, the 2008 performance was less than encouraging. In the words of the authors: “No honest assessment of the Lisbon agenda can ignore two inconvenient facts. The first is that the EU as a whole will not meet any of the targets it set itself in 2000. The second is that the gap between the best and worst performing EU countries is arguably larger now than it was when the Lisbon agenda was launched. There is no evidence that the situation have improved after 2008, on the contrary.

The implication of their finding is that countries that fail to make progress on their Lisbon targets are likely to suffer from weak levels of productivity and employment: “…countries which fail to reform will condemn themselves to lower living standards”.  Adding pain to injury, the public finances of such countries will make them more exposed to rising income inequalities flowing from increasing globalization and technological change. Not surprisingly, the “villain” (versus “heroes”) group of countries in their analysis of Lisbon performance is remarkably similar to the EU group of nations sarcastically named “PIGS,” which are now in desperate need of financial assistance to avoid bankruptcy.

The education agenda

It is difficult to argue against the good intention of the Lisbon strategy. Innovation, deregulation and life-long learning are key to nations’ competitiveness, economic growth and social cohesion in any part of the world. Much empirical research has  shown that education raises labor productivity, but the link between higher education and innovation is a weak one (as illustrated by Sweden and Denmark). Far from all research generates viable innovations and far from all people with higher education innovate, but more many other reasons  investment in education are always valuable for nations.

In view of global competition many European countries need to continually upgrade the level and quality of education of its citizens.  Globalization, technological development and the inclusion of a large portion of the world into the world economy simply calls for it and an increased education level is also essential to maintain social cohesion in our societies. Unfortunate, the Lisbon Scoreboard shows that many  EU countries – particularly in Southern and Central Europe – are not doing well on this dimension.  Tough but necessary austerity measures are not the best driver of this strategic agenda, however.

The OECD program for international student assessment (PISA) shed light on how well students in the OECD countries are prepared for future challenges in terms of their abilities to analyze, reason and communicate effectively. The key question is to what extent they have the capacity to continue learning throughout life, very much in line with the Lisbon strategy. The findings, however, are as sobering as the Lisbon Scorecard because they show how European countries, with the exception of Finland, are lagging behind. It is not surprising that governments even in high-performing countries like Denmark and Sweden are driving significant reforms through parliament to improve their educational systems.

A new dream?

Despite the sad picture from the Lisbon Scoreboard its policies remain necessary to increase EU’s long-term competitiveness in view of the global competitive onslaught from BRIC and other countries. Together China and India represent 1/3 of the population (read: potential brain power, consumers, entrepreneurs, innovations, etc.) on this planet and their priority is not always the softer values of the Europeans. In Europe we have no choice but regard the current difficulties with the Euro zone as a self-inflicted hick-up in the bigger picture, get our act together and increase the speed of reforms needed to boost the quality of education, research and innovation.

The last time I was in India and China their Dreams were clear and present. When the current nightmare is over it is high time for a new European Dream.


American Unreason

2011-12-15

The anti-science rhetoric by the political establishment in the US is worrying.

As I write this article the Chairman of the Nobel Foundation, Dr. Magnus Storch, has just finished his introduction speech for the 2011 Nobel Ceremony in Stockholm. In his speech Storch stressed the importance of the values Alfred Nobel manifested in his will more than a Century ago: The importance of science for improving the human condition combined with inspiration from the humanities and the struggle for world peace. In the face of the grand challenges of today, including the current sovereign debt crisis, Storch stressed that we really need the contributions of science more than ever. Not surprisingly his message went down really well among the enthusiastic audience of Believers in Reason, for the occasion in full evening dress.

As I watched the handful of proud scientists-Laureates – survivors of decades of harsh academic scrutiny – I was reminded of a 2005 article in the New Your Times about a geologist digging into the Grand Canyon to prove the “Young Earth” theory: “Geologists date this sandstone to 550 million years ago and explain the folding as a result of pressure from shifting faults underneath. But to Mr. Vail, the folds suggest the Grand Canyon was carved 4,500 years ago by the great global flood described in Genesis as God’s punishment for humanity’s sin.”

Already at that time NYT reported that almost 1/2 of Americans think God created human beings “pretty much in their present form” within the last 10,000 years. More disturbing is that the same study found that 5% of scientists adopted the “Young Earth” view. As far as I know, these numbers have not diminished. Religious discourse in places of worship and at the departments of theology is one thing but replacing reason with religion is another.

I am not alone in having these concerns. As a longtime subscriber of Scientific American I have noted a growing sense of alarm among its editors and columnists about the recent anti-science tone and rhetoric of the US political establishment.  Authors in similar eminent scientific journals also debate what they perceived to be a clear and present danger of growing American Unreason. This is a worrying tendency not only for America but for the entire world.

The Enlightened US

The American researchers who have received the ultimate Nobel prize from the hand of the Swedish King is a tribute to their nation’s founding ideas of Enlightenment, the great European cultural and intellectual movement of the 18th Century that sought to advance knowledge and improve society.

France was the center of the early Enlightenment movement with hundreds of scholars like Diderot, Voltaire and Rosseau all challenging the unreason of their time. For example, the very idea that Diderot’s pioneering Encyclopédie (1751-1772) claimed to contain all knowledge of the time and that the 35 volumes sold more than an astonishing 25,000 copies of which half outside of France created fertile grounds for the pursuit of more science and reason.

The Enlightenment ideas clearly inspired Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers of America to build their new and free society on reason instead of the unreason of religious dogma and hereditary succession of monarchs-tyrants (see Thomas Paines’ famous pamphlet Common Sense from 1776).  The American Constitution and the French Déclaration des droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen manifests the political philosophy of the ideals of the Enlightenment. In contrast to Mr. Vail’s crusade in The Grand Canyon those ideas of reason also encouraged a new wave of more or less religious-free scientific discoveries and developments across the disciplines.

In modern times the great American nation has been the natural leader of enlightened research, education and innovation as demonstrated by the 2011 Nobel Prize winners and it still is. The US has welcomed and developed the best minds in the world, invested heavily in research and education, generated unparalleled ingenuity and entrepreneurship. Even today the US remain the world’s powerhouse of research, education and innovation in terms of ranking of universities, number of Nobel Prizes, attractiveness to students from across the planet, patent generated, entrepreneurship and the like.

Have the lights gone out?

When the NYT journalist mentioned to “creation-geologist” Mr. Vail that 80% of Christians walk away from their faith when studying science he throws a stick into the sand in frustration and exclaims that “we’re raising a generation of confused children, and it’s the public schools that are doing it!” As a reminder: this was in 2005, not in 1776. And it seems that a large portion of the US population today think he has a point.

It is precisely in view of its grand history that it is so sad to observe the decline of the values, assumptions and rhetoric of the Enlightenment among American decision makers. Many prominent Republicans, for instance, are well-known to seed suspicion about the research showing human causes of global warming and in other ways let ideology or religion trump scientific evidence.

Poisonous claims about matters of science by ignorant politicians surface all the time and everywhere and no political party has a monopoly on such unscientific thinking and dogma. For instance, when presidential candidate Michele Bachman (the Tea Party person) claimed that the HPV vaccine was a “very dangerous drug” that could lead to mental retardation, even some of her arch-conservative Republican peers criticized her. But what is worrying is that in their quest to win votes among the growing mass of science deniers, prominent American politicians place anecdotes over scientific evidence and sometimes even portray scientists as the perpetrators misinformation, like in the case of global warming.

Unfortunately, American politicians frequently use religion as a warrant to justify more unreason. Constrast Nobel Chairman Storch’s message about the need for science with the latest video ad by US presidential candidate Rick Perry’s (R), Strong, uploaded to YouTube only a week earlier. Perry’s main message is that President Obama is waging a “war on religion” and that “faith makes us stronger”. This 30 seconds video illustrates the growing religious dogma among the conservative American political class, which unfortunately is coupled with unscientific thinking, tone and action. But there is hope: of 4.7 million hits on Perry’s YouTube video (10 December) 33 times more people dislike than like it. I am not sure, however, if that high ratio of dislike reflects the science-denying portion of the US population.

By any measure, Parry’s statement – a possible next leader of the world’s only superpower – seems far from the Enlightenment ideal of his nation’s Founding Fathers. Free exercise of religion is one thing, but as Thomas Jefferson pointed out more than two Centuries ago, government must be neutral among religions and non-religion, which is also the spirit of the first amendment of the US constitution.

Perry is not alone to bring faith to the forefront of political debate in the US and probably he will probably not be the last in an increasingly religious America, in an increasingly religious world. Just recall how George W. Bush said that he received “prompts” from God about what to do and that he claimed he was on a mission from God when he launched the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Also recall that he pushed through legislation to make it more difficult to pursue stem cell research.

Faith-based Universities?

A few years ago I attended a Harvard program for new university presidents and found myself as one of the token foreigners. I was awe-struck by the apparent role of “faith-based” institutions of higher education in America. The Islamic madrasah is a well-known faith-based school system by which students mostly learn how to memorize the Qur’an. But to have faith as the foundation for education in general, but especially in higher education, was more than I expected.  This even in view of the strong religious heritage from the 102 pilgrim-immigrants on the Mayflower in 1620, who undertook the voyage to escape religious persecution in England.

It was soon apparent that I had very little in common with the challenges facing the Deans of those institutions and they received different “prompts” than I and from very different sources. Although faith-based higher education might be innocent enough in the beginning, what stops it from extending into, let’s say, faith-based research (like that of Mr. Vail), faith-based academic titles and journals, faith-based evaluation of faculty and research outcomes or faith-based innovation? If policies and practices of science and education are based on faith more than the ideal of the Enlightenment of the US, the pluralistic world has a good reason to be concerned.

Oxford professor in evolutionary biology and renowned science author Richard Dawkins has often confronted the influence of religion on society and debated why science is fundamentally different from religion. In short, his argument is that “…science is based upon verifiable evidence. Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops.” Controversional columnist, literary critic, author and “anti-theist,” the late Christopher Hitchens was harsher in his critique of the influence of religion on society, summed up as “religion poisons everything.”

It is tempting to dismiss Vail’s, Parry’s and Bachman’s statements as shouting “blind faith” from the “rooftop” to science-denying believers and assuming that, if they come to power, nothing would really change. But that would be a disservice to science. Science and religion will typically have different answers to epistemological and ontological questions (What is knowledge? How is knowledge acquired? How do we know what we know? What categories of being exist?) Science and religion will, to paraphrase President W. Bush, also give us different “prompts” about what to do, which may result in real decisions that impact real people.

Perhaps it is my pluralistic Scandinavian roots that makes me prefer the peaceful coexistence of science with different interests, convictions and lifestyles over what Perry, Bachman et al. are metaphorically shouting from their rooftops. As a scholar and leader in academia I am uncomfortable with mixing legitimate activities of no-matter-what religion with science, education (theology exempted) and innovation. Perhaps it is my training in scientific methods and scholarly dialogue that make me weary when Non-Reason is spread within the very institutions that are tasked with the advancement of Reason and Enlightenment. Like Professor Dawkins, and unlike Faith-Based Geologist Vail, I see very little connection between religion and research in today’s enlightened societies.

Have Faith in Reason

Many Americans may be listening to the anti-science and religious unreason spread by Parry, Bachman and others. However, the US remains a wonderfully cosmopolitan melting pot of brain power and resources that are needed in the pursuit of science, education and innovation. I am convinced this will remain so for decades.  In contrast with the nationalism and chauvinism that is weakening other nations, and despite the increasing anti-science tone of presidential candidates, the US remains a beacon of reason in the world, for now.

In his notorious video, Parry said that “faith made America strong” and that he assures that it will make her strong again. I question his premise. Science, technology and the ideal of Liberal Arts made America strong and that cocktail of reason can make her even stronger. To deflect the shouts of unreason from the rooftops, scientists and leaders of science need to cultivate allies across the political and religious spectrum and help keep the public debate informed and factual, especially in America.

A century ago, Alfred Nobel stressed the importance of science, the humanities and peace for improving the human condition. His endowment has enabled the ultimate price in physics, chemistry, medicine/physiology, literature and for efforts to make the world a more peaceful place. A century later, Science and Reason continue to beat Blind Faith and Unreason as the most innovative, effective and responsible way to improve the human condition. Let’s hold the course.


Want to change a paradigm? Good luck

2011-11-16

It is very difficult to challenge a world-view.

Why do people with opposing views often seem to be living on different planets? Because we do, metaphorically speaking.

We use different concepts and methods to address different problems whereby we consciously and unconsciously limit communication across what divides us from others. Mindsets, mental models, knowledge structures, dominant logic, or my favorite German term, Weltanschauung, all capture the idea that experiences, beliefs and values affect the way we perceive reality and how we respond to that perception.

The divide between opposing and seemingly incompatible views and how we deal describes why it is so difficult to change an established way of thinking and working, from the inside. It also suggests that we should welcome conflicts with opposing and seemingly incompatible views, but also why we hate it.

“Incommensurability”

In the middle of the last Century Thomas Kuhn suggested and refined a simple yet powerful idea to both describe and explain why and how this divide happens.  In short, his provocative idea was that proponents of different fundamental ideas simply work in different worlds. Alan believes the earth is flat and he finds it hard to have a meaningful dialogue with Jan, who is convinced that the earth is round.  Two such different worldviews, or habits of reasoning is what Kuhn called ”paradigms” and they can’t be reconciled with each other because they cannot be subjected to the same common standard of comparison.

When it come to conflicting world-views or beliefs there is no neutral language to describe and interpret what is happening. Just imagine Joe waving a religious text as the main ground for his passionate claim and Mary holding up a printout of empirical data while they both claim to know the “truth.”  Just imagine that Joe and Mary are believers of neoclassical economics versus behavioral economics, the virtue or vice about entering a new market, or…

Kuhn called this impossibility to reconcile views “incommensurability” and he developed the idea when he studies the nature of scientific development, especially scientific revolutions that made mankind take giant leaps forward, so-called, paradigm shift.

Revolutionary science like Albert Einstein’s famous challenge to Newtonian mechanics, he found, is usually unsuccessful, and very rarely leads to new paradigms. Einstein challenged a way of thinking that had been used to describe force and motion for over two hundred years. Not surprisingly, protagonists of the current paradigm were not amused and reacted accordingly. However, when these large-scale shifts in the scientific view are implemented and accepted by the majority science will once more progress within the new paradigm, and the process repeat itself.

In other words, major changes in how we view the world often happens more as sudden earthquakes than incremental steps. But, it is very human to dislike earthquakes.

The barriers to change in science

Just like in industry in science there are many mechanisms to reinforce existing paradigms, and reject attempts competing ones. Well known methods include:

  • Professional organizations that give legitimacy to the paradigm and provide standards for evaluating quality
  • Strong leaders who defend and represent the paradigm
  • Conferences conducted that are devoted to discussing and promoting ideas central to the paradigm.
  • Educators who propagate the paradigm’s ideas by teaching it to students in a cycle of self-reference.
  • Journals giving legitimacy to the paradigm and that reject papers threatening it.
  • The self-referential practice to cite one-self and ones like minded peers in publications, helping increasing the legitimacy of central ideas of the paradigm
  • Funding agencies that provide money only to those who have made their career in one paradigm.
  • Promotion practices of only giving tenured professorship to people who have proven themselves in the paradigm.

Just imagine the how challenging it must be for the lonely scholar who has figured out a revolutionary idea.

The difficult inside job

Kuhn’s simple idea also partly explains why it is so difficult to change a paradigm from the inside. When you are inside a way of thinking and working in science or in a company you do not notice it. You just keep speaking the language of that way of thinking, meeting like-minded people and consciously or unconsciously you defend the turf.

Just like a ruler urges his subordinated to defend the motherland from real intruders it comes naturally for most people to defend their way of thinking from intruding worldviews.  Religious faith and political ideology are perhaps the most illustrative examples but scientific knowledge development and best practices in organizations qualify too if you think of how things works. If you have a different worldview you become a non-believer, a heretic whose strange views will be eliminated, sooner or later, unless you can recruit and convince others about the value of your dissenting views.

The way we organize and manage organizations is designed to reinforcing a shared way of thinking and doing – a unified paradigm. In fact, creating a shared vision, or “aligning” and organization is regarded as an essential aspect of organized life. Many leaders work hard to get people in the organization to pull in the same direction, to basically have the same mindset and dominant logic.

The corporate world is full of examples of how project champions of rejected ideas kept pursuing these undercover and eventually won the battle of worldviews.  Nestlé’s Nepresso division is perhaps one of the most well-known examples.

A living  example of the hardship of challenging a paradigm in science is Dan Shechtman, the winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. When he shared his preliminary findings 1982 even the leader of his research group disowned him and with great shame. Three decades later people queue to get his autograph and scholarly support.


More life-science, in Lund

2011-10-25

In the early part of 2011 I was struck by the difference between the debate and focus in Denmark and in southern Sweden, just across the bridge. Perhaps it had to do with the uncertainty regarding the upcoming Danish election? Perhaps there is a real difference in mentality? At that stage many Danes I met were increasingly annoyed that the Swedish economy was doing much better, and as a Swede holding a leading position in Denmark, I was walking a thin line. However, I could not resist making a point about the difference in debate and highlight the positive development in the science-city of Lund, which was hardly mentioned in Denmark. In previous articles I have mentioned and discussed the mega investments in the ESS science facility in Lund. In this column I discuss the privately enabled Ideon Life Science Village, which is currently being established there. My purpose was to inspire and increase the interest on the Danish side to make more connections with Lund. It hasn’t really happened yet.

Onsdag 02/02/2011. Berlingske Nyhedsmagasin.

Another 1.000 life science-jobs… in Lund

In Sweden a private individual has just donated 100 million Swedish Crowns, to create progress in a science-park in Lund. In Denmark we are leading a passionate debate, discussing whether publicly funded early retirement benefits* should be abolished quickly or slowly.

In Denmark, we are proud of our strong position in the field of life science; which is why it is interesting that the University of Lund, Astra Zeneca and the billionaire Mats Paulson (founder of the construction company Peab) are now founding Ideon Life Science Village. The city will create one thousand new jobs, a power centre for research in life science, and a dynamic environment for entrepreneurship. The intention is clear: Lund wants to attract top researchers from around the globe, expanding companies based in medicine and related sciences, plus people with an interest in creating new companies.

The future is in Lund. The venture is especially interesting since Lund is already in the process of building ESS – the world’s largest neutron microscope – and MaxLab IV, which during the course of a few years will become one of the few power centers in the world within the field of advanced particle physics and materials research and development.

This will contribute about another one thousand resident researchers, plus another three to four thousand who will fly in and out on short or long visits. In this picture, other groups belong as well: aspiring researchers (Ph.D.’s), masters, and bachelor students.

By the way, thousands of researchers have families as well, which calls for good kindergartens, international schools and secondary schools, stores and hospitals. The families need a place to live, they go shopping, they go to the opera and the theatre (perhaps preferably in Tivoli), and they want to watch handball.

We should congratulate Lund, because these projects benefit the entire Copenhagen Metropolitan Region (CMR).The initiative attracts everything a community needs.

But let us look at things in a slightly less rosy perspective.

Differences across the sound: On one side of the sound, nearly all the municipalities have included the options that ESS give in their strategic plans. On the other side of the sound, only a few people know what the abbreviation means.

On one side of the sound, politicians – on a national level and across political boundaries – are ready to make decisions on new infrastructure projects, which bring us even closer together. On the other side, the interest seems to be more lukewarm.

The list could go on, and, with all due respect for national differences, this pattern is not working. There are far more similarities than differences between Sweden and Denmark, and my impression is that we, on the Danish side, do not see the opportunities in what, in my opinion, should be called the Copenhagen Metropolitan Region.

Isn’t it about time we place Scania (Skåne) high on the national agenda for strategic co-operation?

My hope is that the government and the opposition will unite in a “regional effort” to grab hold of the possibilities and challenges of the future, instead of passively letting the development pass us by.

Private donations: On one side of the sound a wealthy private individual has just donated 100 million Swedish Crowns to enable further progress for the existing idea-park for research and entrepreneurship. On the other side of the sound, we are leading a passionate debate, discussing whether the publicly funded early retirement benefits* should be abolished quickly or slowly.

I am also convinced that private individuals want to make more donations. As Mats Paulson commented on TV that same night, the deal was clear: “You can’t take the money with you, when you go…”. The legacy, which he is now creating, will last for generations.

—–

* Early retirement benefits – The Danish term “efterløn” refers to publicly funded pension benefits payable five years before normal retirement.