This interview with Prof. Dr. Enrique Dans was published in THE JAPAN TIMES on Monday, January 28, 2008

Although Europe once lagged well behind the U.S. in terms of formal business education, the continent is now home to scores of major schools. People consider the length of the courses, diversity of students and faculty, acquisition of additional language ability, etc., as advantages of studying in European schools.

According to Enrique Dans, a professor of information systems at IE Business School in Madrid, one of the significant advantages of IE, which follows the European tradition, is its relevancy to the real business world. â??IE is a very, very applied school. At IE, we are measured by the relevance of our research to companies rather than by the number of papers we publish, which is the dominant criterion for U.S. professors,â? said Dans. â??So, IE professors are interested in the research that interests companies. A basic test for research relevance is if companies want to fund the research. So professors need to be working on what is relevant to companies and talk in the language spoken by companies.â? IE professors also keep in close touch with the business world by consulting, participating in corporate boards and being involved in corporate projects. Dans himself collaborates with a number of technology companies, he added.

These strong connections enable professors to bring real, relevant and updated case studies to the classroom. In addition, if the professors are involved in the cases that are being discussed in class, students can gain a lot more from them. Dans also invites guest speakers from the business world to his classes. â??If you are connected to the corporate world, itâ??s easy to get people to come and talk to the students,â? he said. So sometimes students are able to talk, discuss and ask about the case with the very director of the company involved. â??IE is located in the middle of Madrid, in the main business district. So that also makes it easy to bring in guest speakers while it gives the students a feeling of being at the heart of the business community,â? he continued.

Dans emphasized another characteristic of his school â?? entrepreneurship. â??Compared to people graduating from U.S. schools, many people graduating from European business schools go to small enterprises or start their own projects,â? he said. IE, whose own inception was as an entrepreneurial project, has been focusing on entrepreneurship from the very beginning. â??Every single IE student has to put together a business plan,â? said Dans. Students have to come up with a business idea and analyze the idea, even if they have no entrepreneurial intentions of their own. â??This is because itâ??s very useful to know how to prepare and present a business plan, even if you work for a big corporation,â? Dans explained. But for those who want to continue working on their business plans, the IE Venture Lab facility supports students to work with classmates in designing, developing and launching their own business plan. â??Many of them decide to continue,â? Dans said. â??Some 25 percent of students start their own company. So we think focusing on entrepreneurialism is a great way to contribute to society, and itâ??s very nice to see them coming back to IE to tell students about their experiences.â? Dans sees the growing popularity of entrepreneurship among MBA students through IE students. â??This year for the first time, I see more students interested in joining small to medium enterprises, or start-ups. This is the year of start-ups.â?