David Bach cuts a conspicuous figure around the Madrid campuses of Spainâ??s IE Business School. For a start, the impossibly fresh-faced professor of strategy and economic environment looks young enough to be one of his International MBA students. He is, in fact, about to turn 33, so is too old to be the youngest member of the schoolâ??s youthful faculty.
Professor Bach, however, is the only one with a PhD in political sciences, and one of only a few from a mainly liberal arts academic background.
A German by birth, he landed at the Spanish school in 2004, after nine years in the US, first as an undergraduate at Yale University and later as a masters and PhD student, research associate and teacherâ??s assistant at Berkeley, California. Having acquired a taste for academia, his return to Europe was contingent on finding a suitable teaching tenure. However, as a specialist in political economy, he found his choices limited. â??I could have pursued a non-academic career in policy analysis, lobbying or something like that,â? he says. â??However, I wanted a university post, so I decided it would have to be in a business school.â?
An offer from the IE proved to be the most attractive, partly for personal reasons. Although he met her in San Francisco, Bachâ??s wife Almudena is Spanish. The couple â?? and their baby son â?? have settled happily into life in central Madrid, a capital that Bach describes as â??a lot more modern and dynamic than German citiesâ?. However, he adds: â??Spaniards arenâ??t scared of change, but at the same time they are wedded to their culture and traditions. This clash is what makes Madrid so interesting.â?For the past four years, Bach has been imparting to IE students his own interpretation of what is broadly know as non-market strategy â?? that part of management involving government, regulators, civil society and the media.
In the US, academics such as David Baron and Daniel Diermeier have been bywords for the discipline since the 1980s. Prof Bach, along with fellow IE professor David Allen, is widely accredited with having bundled the disparate elements of non-market management and market disciplines into a cohesive, applicable strategy.