ESADE Dean Argues Against Biz, Science Disconnect

The dean of Spain’s ESADE Business School, Alfons Sauquet, wrote an intriguing editorial in The Economist earlier this summer that bears a second look. In it, Sauquet argues that a disconnect between business and science is holding Europe back, and, if left unresolved, will diminish Europe’s future.

The goal, he says, is learning how to bring the science and business communities together efficiently, and concentrating solely on functional training is not enough.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Europe’s approach to innovation must change,” Sauquet explains. “The region may be blessed with high-quality scientific research, but too much of it fails to make it to the realms of innovation.”

Here’s where business schools can make all the difference, playing what the dean calls the role of the entrepreneur in its purest meaning.

“It is no longer enough that we concentrate on functional training. We must constantly scan for projects to which we can add value. Once found, we must take a more developmental, consulting role, helping the project’s different stakeholders””companies, public bodies, research centres and universities””to create and manage the organisation. And we must help design and implement the processes necessary to make European innovation work,” Sauquet says.

Business schools can play a profound role in promoting innovation management, but they should also explore what Sauquet calls the “slippery idea” of creativity. Citing the world of creative design as one example, the dean says B-schools can create programs that help managers to look differently at their practices, using ethnographical methods and tools inspired by design thinking.

“If we accept that innovation stems from science and moves towards creativity, we must also acknowledge that we must create environments that promote innovation,” says Sauquet. “Business schools should not be afraid to provide the Petri dishes on which new ideas are spawned.”

To read more of the specific programs and methods ESADE has implemented to help bridge the science/business gap, follow this link.

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