David Bach: Fresh mix of politics with big business

David Bach - IE Business School

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.


Pronovias: take your partner


1470.jpgMarch 2008 | By Ramon Solé, Professor of Strategy at IE Business School.

Pronovias is a world reference in the bridal gown business, thanks to a happy marriage between prêt a porter and top designers.

Last week, the fashion world enjoyed one of its most emotional and important moments in many years: the world recognition of Valentino, the grand master of haute couture, in the presentation of his latest fashion collection. However, Valentino´s creations will continue to fire the enthusiasm of his followers, with the wedding dresses he makes and distributes all over the world under an exclusive agreement with Pronovias. Pronovias has found its perfect partner in Valentino. The partnership combines the Italian designer´s Renaissance talent with the entrepreneurial vision and tenacity of the renowned Spanish entrepreneur Alberto Palachi. It is yet another milestone in a successful business story, the results of a marriage between rigorous work and the right strategic vision.

Pronovias is a good example of this essential combination for reaching the position of world leader that it holds and strengthens at each of the various stages of its evolution.

The pioneering idea is based on using the prêt-à-porter business model in the wedding dress market, and the use of a direct retail management system. Pronovias continues to control the entire process from the design of the collection to relations with the end customer.


Different ages, different viewpoints

1468.JPGMarch 2008 | By Cristina Simon, Professor of HR Management at IE Business School.

Much has been said about cultural, religious or sexual diversity, but there has been little talk of how to balance different generations that have different ways of seeing the world and business.

The enterprise world is starting to take notice of new aspects that form part of employees´ personalities and that will most probably affect their effective management. Although the recognition of the differences among genders, races or cultures has been consolidated in many companies, one of the things that greatly determine the way we see the world in this sense is the experiences we have had and share with the people from our own age group.

Besides our private and personal experiences, we all remember milestones that have marked the different stages of our life and that often serve as common references among our contemporaries. These experiences are shared by a large social group within a certain age range and we refer to this group as a generation. The important part of determining a generation group is not so much the fact of belonging to a certain age group (there may be considerable variations), but rather the cohesion of the group as a result of experiences, values and a shared way of life.


Spanish business leaders maintain silence

Spain is in the grip of election fever. With less than a week to go before polling day on March 9, the campaign is receiving blanket media coverage, while politicians on the hustings talk themselves hoarse. But the countryâ??s business community remains quiet. Unlike in other western countries, Spainâ??s corporate figures will not publicly endorse candidates. Nor is it acceptable to criticise the government during an election campaign. And, if Spainâ??s business leaders are natural allies of the opposition Popular party (PP), they are discreet in their support.

The reasons for this seeming political impartiality at election time are manifold, say experts. Culturally, it is considered bad taste in Spain for business leaders to make public their grievances with government policy. Most lobbying efforts are channelled less directly, through business associations or private meetings.
However, this public neutrality is also motivated by fear, according to Fernando Casado, general manager of the Family Business Institute in Madrid. â??There is still quite a bit of political intervention in the Spanish economy,â? he says. â??Itâ??s not in any chief executiveâ??s interest to favour one side or the other. It could cost you business.â?