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Americanisation in 20th Century Europe: business, culture, politics. Volume 2

 | 
Nick Tiratsoo
, 
Mathias Kipping

From exchange programmes to the legitimisation of university-based management education: the case of Belgium, 1920-1970

Kenneth Bertrams

Résumé

À la suite de l’institutionalisation précoce des échanges éducatifs entre la Belgique et les États-Unis—le rôle de la Belgian American Educational Foundation est ici esquissé-, s’est constituée une plate-forme de personnalités aux trajectoires diverses disséminant dans la sphère économique, sous le coup de relais locaux, certains vecteurs culturels d’origine américaine. Il s’agit de montrer que ces transferts puisent leur origine dès l’Entre-deux-guerres et ne peuvent s’appréhender sur le mode individuel. Une application concrète de ce schéma est observée lors du processus d’introduction des sciences de la gestion dans les universités belges, grâce au concours de la Fondation Industrie-Université et de ses ramifications européennes.

Texte intégral

  • 1 I would like to thank Ginette Kurgan, Serge Jaumain and Nick Tiratsoo for their useful comments on (...)

1Exploring the Belgian academic landscape highlights some basic constitutive features of the country’s cultural heterogeneity: economic and political dependency, overall international influences and strong regional identifies.1 The country s geopolitical situation at a crossroads breeds massive internal tensions and tends to padlock the entire population into embedded antagonistic structures (Dutch/French, catholic/secular). The academic field represents a microcosm of this rigidity. The universities of Ghent and Liège are two public institutions, while Louvain/Leuven and Brussels were not initially funded by the State; Louvain/Leuven is catholic and Brussels is based on secular philosophical conceptions. Ghent became a Dutch-speaking university in 1930, and language conflicts in the late 1960’s led to a split at the University of Louvain/Leuven and the creation of a new French-speaking University of Louvain at Louvain-la-Neuve. The Dutch-speaking University of Brussels was also founded at this time without any great disruption.

  • 2 R.C. Fox, Le château des Belges. Un peuple se retrouve, Louvain-la-Neuve, Duculot, 1997, p. 54.

2Unsurprisingly, until recently, national academic exchanges, whether of students, scholars or professors, were very limited. It was hazardous for someone to hold a chair in a university other than the one they had graduated from. This phenomenon was often noted by authoritative voices in the Belgian scientific community, with, for example, Jean Willems, who headed the National Scientific Research Fund for some forty years, speaking of “autarchic reproduction” or “inbreeding”.2 Exchange programmes abroad were viewed as a possible way of counterbalancing local inertia. The United States appeared as an early player in this field although there had been frequent contacts with German universities prior to the First World War. In fact, the real breakthrough of American educational exchanges came with their institutionalization after 1918. It occurred less because of a systematization of the ‘seduction process’ on an individual basis, and more because of the building of a platform for personal interactions, in line with some American schemes, but along national lines and according to local needs. This situation was especially true of the rise of the group promoting improved labour productivity levels, the training of managers and the introduction of university-based management education in Belgium.

origins and institutionalization of academic exchanges

  • 3 L. Ranieri, Emile Francqui ou l'intelligence créatrice, 1863-1935, Paris-Gembloux, Duculot, 1985, (...)

3The Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF) was established in 1920 with the remaining funds of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, which helped provide food for the local population in wartime. The Chairman of the Commission, Herbert Hoover, future US President, convinced the Belgian Government to endorse a bilateral exchange programme for graduate students, while endowments and direct aid were given to the Universities of Brussels and Louvain/Leuven. The funds stemmed mainly from sales of surplus military supplies outside Belgium after November 1918. From the outset, the BAEF cultivated close contacts with other Belgian philanthropic foundations that were also set up at the end of the war, such as the Fondation Universitaire, which aimed to provide loans, grants and subsidies to higher education students and scholars inside Belgium.3 Members of the BAEF’s Fellowship Committee were thus represented on the Board of the Fondation Universitaire and vice-versa, so that Americans were involved in Belgian private institutions.

4With the Rectors of the four Belgian universities sitting on the Fellowship Committee, there was no doubting the fact that the initiative was meant to favour university students, at that time only a tiny part of the population. In 1920, Belgium had less than 10,000 university students (3248 at Louvain/ Leuven; 2501 at Brussels; 2303 at Liege; and 1277 at Ghent), mostly male and from better-off familles. The future elites were given a chance to get acquainted with the most modem theoretical teaching abroad as they were sent to top universities. More generally, the exchange was legitimised by both conjunctural arguments (for example, the ‘technical gap’ between the US and the rest of Europe) and structural arguments (the ‘inbreeding effect’). From 1925, the BAEF widened its selection criteria by including special grants for research fellows and professors, while full scholarships were frequently renewed. This approach was only used during the inter-war years.

  • 4 Drawn from the official BAEF, Biographical Directory, CRB Fellows, 1920-1950, New York, 1950. Some (...)
  • 5 a) One should bear in mind that the statistics are based on the total number of BAEF fellows and n (...)

5Analyzing some statistical data for the period 1920-1950, it is obvious that an emphasis was placed on the academic dimension in the first waves of exchanges.4 The BAEF sent 623 Belgians to US universities (including graduate students, scholars and visiting professors) and awarded 736 scholarships. In comparison, only about 250 American counterparts crossed the Atlantic, which certainly qualifies the idea of a shared two-way programme. Turning to the occupations of the Belgian ‘fellows’ (including emeriti and deceased professors) in the cohorts to 1950, it is striking that 312 (or 50 per cent) had been or were teaching at university level, either in Belgium or abroad (see Graph 1).5 BAEF fellows at the four Belgian Universities formed 20 per cent (184/928) of the total professorate in 1952. But though impressive, this percentage is in fact somewhat misleading because it includes professors who were already appointed before the war. As to the scientific staff, only 6 per cent (40/695) had undertaken BAEF sponsored study trips at the time of the count.

Graph 1: Academics among the BAEF fellows (1920-1950)

Graph 1: Academics among the BAEF fellows (1920-1950)

6These figures can be further nuanced if one looks carefully at the quality of the scholarships awarded to future doctors of medicine who intended to teach at university, by far the biggest group of grantees up to 1950, for 45 were ‘graduate fellows’ whereas 50 were ‘advanced, ‘special’, ‘visiting scientist or ‘visiting professor’ fellows. A similar point can be made about the engineers: 35 obtained scholarships when they were only young graduate students, while 29 were already held appointments in their respective engineering departments. At the University of Louvain/Leuven in 1952, the proportion of former BAEF ‘graduate fellows’ among the active professors was apparently very high at 56.9 per cent (37 out of 65). But this figure must be put in context, for the total number of professors had grown from 249 in 1938-39 to 352 in the early 1950’s because of the need to create teaching courses in Flemish.

  • 6 5 May 1953, Decimal Files (D.F.), 511.553/5-553, Record Group 59 (State Department Central Files), (...)
  • 7 16 May 1951, D.F., 511.55/5-1651, R.G. 59, NARA.

7As might be expected, the US Government exploited these statistics in order to ‘prove’ the usefulness of exchanges to the country’s foreign policy and the appropriate execution of its purposes in Belgium. Several reports linked the future academics’ sojourns in the US with their general approval of US policy. Senator Alexander Smith of New Jersey, one of the sponsors of the Smith-Mund Act which extended the scope of the Fulbright Exchange Program to nonstudents, asserted: “this record of the relationship between the United States and the brave little country of Belgium points the way to effective understanding and cooperation among all the freedom-loving countries in the world”.6 He also of course mentioned the contribution that the BAEF had made to Belgian public administration, with three fellows being former or current Prime Ministers (Paul van Zeeland, Gaston Eyskens and Jean Van Houtte, the PM when Smith was writing). Other reports claimed that the BAEF’s achievements were especially noteworthy because Belgium was “a country proud of its academic superiority” whose people “[did] not make friends quickly”.7 Nevertheless, US information programme personnel in Belgium were quite aware that the Foundation strictly limited its candidates even within the four Universities.

  • 8 August 1942, Research and Analysis Branch Division, Intelligence Service, box 152, R.G. 226 (OSS), (...)
  • 9 See P.M. Rutkoff and W.B. Scott, New School, A History of the New School for Social Research, New (...)

8During World War Two, several Belgian scientists fled across the Atlantic and took posts at American universities alongside other European exiles. According to an Office of Special Security list, no less than 86 “Belgian scholars and experts” were recorded as living in the US at this time, mostly in New York.8 Not all were political exiles (for example, former BAEF fellow Robert Triffin was already an instructor at Harvard and had been a member of an American scientific commission), while few had benefited from BAEF assistance. One of this group, Henri Grégoire, professor of Byzantine history at the University of Brussels, was able to convince other French and Belgian scientists to create a specifically French-speaking institution in the heart of New York at the New School for Social Research. The Ecole Libre des Hautes Etudes was founded in late 1941 with the support of de Gaulle and Spaak, and lasted until the end of the war.9 Grégoire vainly tried to keep the institution permanent after he became president of the Ecole in 1944, but the majority of the professors regained their original tenures in Europe where they kept mostly good contacts with their American counterparts.

the post-war situation

  • 10 C.A. Thomson and W.H.C. Laves, Cultural Relations and U.S. Foreign Relations Policy, A New Dimensi (...)
  • 11 Based upon material in D.F., 511.553, R.G. 59, NARA.

9Quite soon after the war, as the US Government finally decided to elaborate a specific foreign cultural policy, the State Department started to extend the exchange canal to non-students and to develop it along explicit political lines. The ‘Leader Grants’, as they were called, were individual invitations, issued under the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, to politicians, union representatives, journalists and artists, in order to send them to the US and let them get a “full and fair picture” of the country.10 During the 1950’s, the US Embassy in Brussels contacted some fifty personalities. Analysing the characteristics of the Belgian politicians involved shows that the Americans were interested in three distinct themes: education, European integration and colonial policy.11 A special committee including delegates of the Marshall Plan administration (ECA) and the information service of the Embassy carried out a very careful selection process. The grantee chose the specific route of his or her journey in close collaboration with US officials, and spent on average two months overseas. After the visit, a Personal follow-up was organised in order to assess how it had impacted on the individual’s opinions.

  • 12 See E. Katz and P.F. Lazarsfeld, Personal Influence, Glencoe, Free Press, 1955.
  • 13 8 August, D.F., 511.553/8-852, R.G. 59, NARA. The poll served as basis for a broader study headed (...)

10Of course, these special grants did not impede the success of other exchange programmes; in the eyes of the State Department, it was just a question of broadening the range of target groups. The general qualification of the potential exchange candidates was that they were ‘opinion molders’: they were expected to spread their (favourable) impressions from within their respective social environments. The idea here was based explicitly on Lazarsfeld’s two-step model describing the reception of personal messages in the flow of mass communication.12 However, prior to their induction on this scheme, Belgian grantees were expected to be already convinced of US objectives and their usefulness for Belgium. Of course, such a bias was not always openly acknowledged. Thus, the US Embassy in Brussels was quick to comment on a poll of 300 Belgians from the same social-economic class (professional, academic and business life), of whom half had gone to the US with a scholarship or study grant. For what this showed was that while 42.7 per cent of the grantees answered that US foreign policy sincerely embraced justice and freedom, only 25.8 per cent of the non-grantees thought the same. According to the latter group, the key factor was wholly (40.1 per cent) or partly (32.7 per cent) what American business demanded.13

11In spite of their fundamental flaws (confusion of purpose, ignorance of the interviewees’ opinions before their stay overseas), such polls seemed to confirm the value of all exchange programmes. They also helped highlight previous accomplishments, a point that US representatives in Brussels were eager to underscore:

  • 14 “Semi-Annual Report on the International Educational Exchange Program, July-December 31,1955”, 23 (...)

If Belgo-American relations remain untroubled in a troubled world, if Belgium has been a constant supporter of American foreign policy objectives, if delicate problems concerning strategic materials have been settled in an atmosphere of friendship, we can attribute these results, in part at least, to the knowledge that Belgian leaders have of the United States, and the confidence they feel in us after having spent formative years in our universities.14

  • 15 R.H. Vogel, “The Making of the Fulbright Program”, Annals of the American Academy of Political Sci (...)
  • 16 J. Helmreich, Cathering rare ores. The Diplomacy of Uranium Acquisitions (1943-1954), Princeton, P (...)

12The signing of the Fulbright Exchange Program between the United States and Belgium in October 1948 was clearly meant to bridge the alleged sociological gap and “reach a wide cross-section of the population”. In a letter sent to William Fulbright, Herbert Hoover stressed the opportunity for the future ‘Fulbright Commission’ to collaborate (and indeed merge) with the BAEF, and Fulbright was certainly very aware of Hoover’s recommendations at the start of his project.15 However, Hoover’s proposal was rejected for an obvious reason: as a public project, the Fulbright Program had to be partly run by the State Department, and had to evolve with the re-shaped objectives of post-war US foreign policy. Intellectual co-operation was becoming a central feature of the political relationships between countries. This was also highlighted by the fact that the Americans refused to share research information with some Belgian scientists because of their political opinions (for example, the nuclear physicist Frans Van den Dungen, from the University of Brussels in 1948), and even prevented American Fulbright grantees from pursuing their research with known communist professors (as in the case of the biologist Jean Brachet).16

  • 17 Based upon updated versions of the BAEF Directory for Belgian fellows.

13Nonetheless, the emergence of the Fulbright Commission gave the Belgian-American exchange programme a decisive impetus. Between 1946 and 1960, 691 Belgians received grants from one or other of the associations. At first sight, BAEF maintained its pre-war tradition of focusing on academics: of the 200 graduate fellows it supported during this period, 104 became university professors, 41 in the medical sciences. However, the overwhelming emphasis on medicine was soon to be eroded. A detailed breakdown for the period 1950-1980 shows the growing importance of future and/or present academics in the natural sciences (physics, biology, and chemistry) and, above all, in the applied sciences.17 BAEF scholarships to those in medicine fell from some 35 per cent of total in the inter-war years to roughly 25 per cent; the number given to natural scientists remained constant at 20 per cent; whilst those given to engineering departments increased to 25 per cent (and 30 per cent in the 1980’s). Even disciplines like the social sciences, economics and law gradually became more important.

14But perhaps the most interesting finding that can be drawn from these data is the fact that an increasing and steady flow of BAEF fellows no longer concentrated first and foremost on targeting university positions. Some caveats must be entered: the evolution of the total flow of fellowships partly reflects the BAEF’s internal financial history, while the figures do not include the most recent university appointments. Yet even so, it is clear that the while global population of fellows grew at a constant rate from 1975 onwards, the contingent of future academics largely stagnated (see Graph 2). Present/future academics received 43.4 per cent (455/1048) of the total BAEF scholarships awarded between 1950 and 2000; but between 1975 and 1990 the comparative figure was only 29.9 per cent (136/455).

Graph 2: Academics among the BAEF fellows (1950-2000)

Graph 2: Academics among the BAEF fellows (1950-2000)
  • 18 R.M. Rosenzweig, “Foreign Policy and Education, A Confusion of Purposes”, Journal of Higher Educat (...)

15American study trips were attracting a wider range of ambitious students willing to reach upper social-professional standings in order to differentiate themselves from ordinary college students. The democratization of universides – occurring in Belgium from the early 1960’s onwards – did not provoke much of a shift in BAEF policy. In fact, the connotation of prestige linked to the institution, as well as to complementary studies in American universides in general, bred a trend toward diversification among the scholarship candidates, on the one hand, and a sense of specialization in the professional field, on the other. This situation became obviously visible in the 1980’s, when fellows were being recruited by the same few prestigious companies, law firms, and consultant offices. As part of the second, and indeed third, generation of BAEF fellows, they inevitably benefited from the presence of alumni in senior positions. This concrete situation of networking, more than the alleged impact of actually visiting the United States (which was largely a matter of wishful thinking18 contributed to creating a favorable atmosphere for adapted Americanised’ interactions.

illustrating the web-system: the case of the productivity campaign and the training of managers

16At the end of World War Two, US grantees had already reached numerous leading positions in Belgium. The immediate post-war period, however, turned out to be a decisive moment for economic and political collaboration between the two countries. American officials called for better labour productivity in all European countries as a mean to recover promptly from the disastrous economic situation. But the productivity campaign launched within the framework of the Marshall Plan also involved social and political dimensions that needed specially adapted co-operation with local partners. The Marshall administration in Brussels believed that a handful of Belgian alumni could play an important role in transmission, although their relations were punctuated by misunderstandings, which in the end hastened the failure of the whole idea.

  • 19 European Recovery Program, Belgium and Luxembourg Country Study; Washington, ECA, 1949, p. 62.
  • 20 J. Helmreich, United States Relations with Belgium and the Congo, 1940-1960, Newark-London, Associ (...)

17Because Belgium’s industrial apparatus was not as damaged in 1945 as had been the case thirty years before, the country was able to carry on its economic activities while other countries were still only slowly recovering. Taking advantage of this situation, it was obvious that at the same time “Belgium had reduced its own need for further American assistance”.19 Hence the decision of the National Advisory Council not to waive the country’ obligation to pay counterpart funds for the organization of technical assistance project. What was called the ‘Belgian miracle’ brought about a paradoxical co-operation with the ECA Mission in Brussels, also visible on the diplomatie stage. Foreign Minister Paul van Zeeland, BAEF fellow in 1920 and praised as the archetypal success story of the Belgian-American exchange programmes, deemed it “unfair” that Belgium should be disadvantaged because of its Sound financial conditions. In the end, van Zeeland’s pleading proved convincing enough for Belgium to be given an “extraordinary” $100,000 fund for technical assistance without counterpart, and in addition to the few previous programmes that had already been implemented. As Jonathan Flelmreich correctly points out, these diplomatic tensions “were minor blemishes in a relationship otherwise a picture of health”.20

  • 21 J. McGlade, “From Business Reform Programme to Production Drive. The Transformation of US Technica (...)

18The real breakthrough, however, occurred because of personal initiatives. Gaston Deurinck (1922-2000), a young civil engineer freshly graduated from the University of Louvain/Leuven in 1947, was advised by one of the most influential industrialists, René Boël, to pursue his studies in the USA in order to compare the levels of productivity between the two countries. His M.A. in Economics focused on the problem of measuring productivity statistically, and benefited from the assistance of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Back in Belgium, Deurinck could not convince the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the usefulness of his work, although its General Secretary, Jean-Charles Snoy, had also studied at Harvard with BAEF in 1930. However, Deurinck was finally hired by the Federation of Belgian Industrialists (FIB), where he started to collect information from various factories. At the same time, American delegates were fostering the creation of national productivity centres throughout Europe under the Benton-Moody Amendment; eleven countries (of the sixteen which received Marshall Aid) were about to have their own in the autumn of 1950.21

  • 22 F. Baird to H. Gilchrist (ECA/Brussels, Chief of Mission), 12 June 1951, Office of the Special Rep (...)

19That was the case in Belgium, as Deurinck managed to organise the Belgian Productivity Centre (CBP) within the framework of the FIB. Despite strong American recommendations, it did not integrate unions in its structure, and although it aimed to fulfill all the objectives assigned to a traditional productivity centre, the CBP did not benefit from ECA funds. Under the threat of bankruptcy and after a year of prevarication, the employers finally agreed to operate on a joint basis with union representatives. A new name was chosen, the Belgian Office for the Increase of Productivity (OBAP), while US consultant teams were brought in to assess whether Deurinck was capable of maneuvering the whole enterprise.22

  • 23 K. Bertrams, “Productivité économique et paix sociale au sein du plan Marshall. Les limites de l’i (...)
  • 24 M. Kipping, ‘“Operation Impact’: Converting European Employers to the American Creed” in Kipping a (...)

20Like other similar centres, the OBAP organised a series of productivity missions to the United States drawn on the model provided by the Anglo-American Council on Productivity since 1948. More than twenty mission teams were put together, drawn from those sectors that were affected most by technological and organizational shortcomings. Just as in France, the greatest discovery of the Belgian ‘missionaries’ was the apparently harmonious human relations that existed in American plants.23 The first Belgian initiatives, however, occurred as early as 1950, and focused on trade unions, on the one hand, and the iron and Steel industry, on the other. The president of the Steel branch, Léon Bekaert, who incidentally became president of the FIB two years later and enjoyed a great reputation among managers, inspired the latter. He also firmly supported the creation of the OBAP and headed the Belgian delegation to the First International Conference of Manufacturers held in New York in 1951, which was code-named ‘Operation Impact’ by its organisers.24 Bekaert was early on eager to build up concrete industry-university collaboration and clearly advocated the university-based option in the implementation of post-experience management education. His personal connections with the Belgian catholic milieu and the University of Louvain/Leuven proved useful in this project. As to union leaders (such as Paul Finet, Jef Rens and Louis Major from the socialist organization, and August Cool from the catholic one), they kept good relations with their American colleagues. In this sense, and unlike in France, labour cooperation within the Marshall Plan was not going to generate a cote problem for ECA officials. Tensions did arise, on the other hand, as soon as the early dynamics of the joint representation within the OBAP were eroded after the first signs of national economic slowdown.

  • 25 B. Boel., “The European Productivity Agency and the development of management education in Western (...)
  • 26 Three of them had direct study experience overseas: C. Mertens de Wilmar (U. of Louvain/Leuven) wa (...)

21In spite of the various activities that the OBAP organised under Deurinck s leadership, conflicts between employers and union representatives were endemic. A Joint Declaration on Productivity was signed in May 1954, and this paradoxically still stands as a model of a pragmatic social partnership. But for the most part relations were fraught. Meamwhile, Deurinck had already sought an alternative as he strengthened links with university professors in order to set up seminars for managers. These were at the time being promoted by the European Productivity Agency, after the International Committee of Scientific Management had organised a large congress in Brussels during 1951.25 The OBAP’s ‘academic shift’ started in 1953, and became concrete with the launching of the Inter-University Program of Business Administration, which brought together four (and later five) young professors more or less acquainted with US methods of business training.26 It aimed to organise fixed training sessions for middle and top executives in each ‘university training centre’ (which were to be relatively independent from their respective institutions). At first, however, some industrialists questioned the role of the universities in the programme and advocated the model of a private institution with narrow links to business circles, like the French Research and Study Center for Managers in Jouy-en-Josas. A special committee of entrepreneurs finally endorsed the university-based training project backed by Deurinck, Bekaert and the academics, paving the way for an assimilation of US educational frameworks in an economic perspective.

  • 27 T. Coleman (International Cooperation Administration), “Belgian Project for Ford Foundation Financ (...)
  • 28 S. Schlossman, M. Sedlak and H. Wechsi.er, “The “New Look”: The Ford Foundation and the Revolution (...)

22After having unsuccessfully sought the collaboration of the BAEF in order to implement transatlantic exchange programmes in advanced management courses, Deurinck not only relied on the BAEF’s methods, but also surrounded himself with BAEF fellows, including Stefan Cambien (1925-1988), one of his closest advisers, who had obtained an MBA at Harvard. With the unions brushed aside, and the benefits of a growing partnership between employers and academics, there was little to hinder a new orientation, and so the Industry-University Foundation (FIU) emerged in February 1956, with Bekaert as chairman and the Board of Directors open to Belgium’s leading industrialists (including representatives of holdings). Deurinck was determined not to repeat the mistakes made with the OBAP. Faced with a lack of educational infrastructure in Belgium, the FIU’s fïrst task was necessarily to train the future trainers. The assistance of the Ford Foundation was immediately requested in order to cover part of the dollar costs involved in training lecturers in the United States.27 At this time, the Ford Foundation made a “big push” to enhance the organization of business education, in the US as in other countries.28 It was seduced by Deurinck’s original ideas in this area. Instead of sending a group of trainees to the same university, the FIU opted for an exchange programme in different institutions on an individual basis. On their return, the beneficiaries would act as teaching assistants or supervise the elaboration of the few Ph.D. programmes in the four centres.

  • 29 D. Janssen to G. Deurinck, 15 October 1965, Fonds de la Fondation Industrie-Université (FIU), A 35 (...)
  • 30 T. Hubert, R. Talpaert and G. Van Dijck, “Belgium: the Dynamics of European Network”, in G. Gemeuj(...)

23The Ghent training centre was by far the most dynamic. At its head, André Vlerick (1919-1999) was the first to propose study courses for recently graduated students. He was approached by Berenschot, the founding father of the originally Dutch-sponsored Inter-University Contact for Management Education to take over its presidency. From 1959, he established a skeleton MBA programme within his Centre of Productivity Studies and Research. The outlook at the FIU was such that this initiative was considered a “marginal activity” by the organization’s members. Industrialists wanted first of all to focus on the training of experienced managers. But the influence of American management education models reappeared clearly on several occasions at the Board. In October 1965, one of Belgium’s leading industrialists, Daniel Janssen, who had just received his MBA from Harvard, advised Deurinck of the advantages of setting up an independent business school.29 He was severely criticized by academic members (Cambien even spoke of “Harvardisation illness”) while managers seized the opportunity to reconsider the university-based option. In the end, Janssen’s advice proved influential, as it led, somewhat ironically, to the strengthening of direct negotiations with universities through the integration of training centers. The real reason that pushed the Belgian industrial world to support this decision can be explained by a medical metaphor (frequently evoked) -the observation that medical studies did not develop scientific knowledge just because patients entered the university System. In other words, by finally endorsing the university-based option, industry had “a powerful instrument to bring changes about in basic university education and to improve the university preparation of future managers”.30

  • 31 G. Gemelli, “From Imitation to Competitive-Cooperation. The Ford Foundation and Management Educati (...)
  • 32 G. Lombard (HBS Associate Dean) to G. Deurinck, 26 August 1971, FIU, box 27, AGR.

24Later on, following its European Doctoral Fellow Program, of which the FIU took wide advantage, the Ford Foundation would back Deurinck’s project for a European Institute of Advanced Studies in Management, based in Brussels and functioning as a European hub of doctoral programmes in management. This initiative aimed to ‘internalize’ management education within the traditional academic network on a European scale.31 Its Belgian equivalent, the Inter-University College for Doctoral Studies in Management (CIM), created in 1969, also echoed Deurinck’s principle of strong interaction with local universities in the teaching of business education. Relying on several European networks that Deurinck had built over the years, the FIU also had to face competition from American-based business schools willing to settle in Europe, such as the Harvard Business School (HBS). The first option of the HBS had been to operate on a joint venture basis with the best European training centres, creating what would have been called the Center for Innovation in Top Management Training based in Brussels. But confronted by the lack of case studies about European firms, the prestigious American school finally decided to create a new institution, specializing in teaching managers from large multinationals, and based in Switzerland. Though HBS emphasised that it aimed to “complement programs underway in Europe”,32 it faced much opposition from partners that were otherwise frequently at odds.

  • 33 R. Locke, The Collapse of the American Management Mystique, Oxford, OUP, 1996, p. 48.
  • 34 J. McGlade, “The big push: the export of American business education to Western Europe after Secon (...)

25In the 1970’s, competition between European schools delivering American-styled management education degrees (for example, INSEAD at Fontainebleau) became ever more intense. The historian Robert Locke considered that CIM “probably mounted the most direct European appeal to American business school expertise”.33 Soon, departments of economics proposed their own MBA programmes taught in English and based on American management literature, for example at the University of Leuven in 1969, or at Ghent, with the Vlerick School for Management Studies, named after its founder (these programmes eventually merged in 1999). National appropriation, however, was not going to replace the prestige of American institutions, and, consequently, the ‘canal’ of educational exchanges. In spite of the presence of European institutions in the international business education ‘market’ (or, actually, because of it), American universities still remain the major pathway to high professional positions in European companies. From the mid-1960’s an increasing number of European students participated in business studies courses overseas, especially at graduate level.34 This trend is illustrated by the dramatic expansion of BAEF fellows opting for MBA programmes (105 since 1989, representing almost 20 per cent (105/568) of the total). This represents another illustration of the increasing phenomenon of collusion between education and professional milieus as assimilated from the United States.

conclusion

  • 35 I. Maes, E. Buyst and M. Bouchet, ‘The post-1945 development of economics in Belgium”, in R.W. Coa (...)

26This overview of the development and long-term effects of the exchange programmes between Belgium and the United States must necessarily be limited in scope. Much of the flow of members of the Belgian elite who attended, one way or another, university courses overseas remains invisible. However, by tracing the trajectory of some alumni through their social or professional positions, it is possible to identify a clear series of overlapping networks of personal acquaintance, whose dimensions should not be underestimated in such a little country as Belgium. The BAEF’s impact as a ‘canal’ of American influence is especially important in key departments of Belgian universities, economic research centres and commercial schools. But the field had already been prepared through early transatlantic exchanges. At the University of Leuven/Louvain, the foundation in 1928 of the Institut des Sciences Economiques, specializing in business cycle analysis, was due to Paul van Zeeland and Léon-H. Dupriez (Harvard visiting professor during World War One). It somehow reflected, thirty years later, the setting-up of the Centre for Operations Research and Econometrics by Jacques Drèze, also a former BAEF fellow, who kept good relations with the Chicago Business School and convinced the Ford Foundation to help fund his centre.35

  • 36 M. Kipping, “American Management Consulting Companies in Western Europe, 1920 to 1990: Products, R (...)
  • 37 P. Fridenson, “La circulation internationale des modes managériales”, in J.-P. Bouilloud et B.-P. (...)

27However, though the exchange programmes with the United States were in many ways impressive, they did not generally succeed in breaking up the so-called ‘inbreeding’ of the Belgian academic structure. After some months of specialization abroad, most of the young scientists returned to their mother universities and awaited tenure. On this point, the US exchange programmes have not brought much change right up to the present day. Nevertheless, on the other hand, they did certainly provide what Matthias Kipping terms “connectors”, spread across various cultural territories in the country. As partners in Consulting companies playing the role of potential clients in another country,36 alumni are expected to mediate American schemes among their respective citizens. The example of the Belgian ‘academic entrepreneurs’ (examined by Van Baalen) shows that mechanisms of transfer are not very potent if they merely operate on a single (one-to-one) basis, nor do they bring out clearly the content of the Americanisation of the cultural codes at stake. As vectors, institutional practices, much more than individual initiatives, produce effective signs of influence.37 The real breakthrough of the US cultural transfers only occurred in Belgium through their progressive grafting on to local society, with the underground action of key elements of the traditional elite. Such a process was already firmly fixed in the national habitus since it stems from ancient educational needs in a time of specific social rigidity. It doubtless helped to configure the economic structural symmetry between the United States and Europe.

***

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Notes

1 I would like to thank Ginette Kurgan, Serge Jaumain and Nick Tiratsoo for their useful comments on earlier drafts of this paper, and Anne-Christine Roisin for her assistance in the handling of the statistical data.

2 R.C. Fox, Le château des Belges. Un peuple se retrouve, Louvain-la-Neuve, Duculot, 1997, p. 54.

3 L. Ranieri, Emile Francqui ou l'intelligence créatrice, 1863-1935, Paris-Gembloux, Duculot, 1985, p. 294-307.

4 Drawn from the official BAEF, Biographical Directory, CRB Fellows, 1920-1950, New York, 1950. Some relevant information can also be found in C. Sägesser, “Les relations belgo-américaines durant l’Entre-Deux-Guerres”, unpublished graduate thesis, ULB, 1991.

5 a) One should bear in mind that the statistics are based on the total number of BAEF fellows and not on the number of scholarships granted (most of the time to future academics), b) In 1922, a special ‘Child Health Teachers’ programme ran, with 13 female instructors.

6 5 May 1953, Decimal Files (D.F.), 511.553/5-553, Record Group 59 (State Department Central Files), National Archives Record and Administration at College Park, MA [hereafter NARA],

7 16 May 1951, D.F., 511.55/5-1651, R.G. 59, NARA.

8 August 1942, Research and Analysis Branch Division, Intelligence Service, box 152, R.G. 226 (OSS), NARA.

9 See P.M. Rutkoff and W.B. Scott, New School, A History of the New School for Social Research, New York, The Free Press, 1986. A recent account of the Ecole Libre is F. Chaubet and E. Loyer, “L’Ecole Libre des Hautes Etudes de New York: exil et résistance intellectuelle (1942-1946)”, Revue historique, 616, octobre-décembre 2000, p.939-972.

10 C.A. Thomson and W.H.C. Laves, Cultural Relations and U.S. Foreign Relations Policy, A New Dimension in Foreign Relations: Education, Science, Art, Technical Skills, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1963, p.85-86.

11 Based upon material in D.F., 511.553, R.G. 59, NARA.

12 See E. Katz and P.F. Lazarsfeld, Personal Influence, Glencoe, Free Press, 1955.

13 8 August, D.F., 511.553/8-852, R.G. 59, NARA. The poll served as basis for a broader study headed by Professor O.W. Riegel, which was published as Cultural Contact Projects: An Evaluation of the Long-Time Effects on International Educational Exchange in Belgium, Princeton, PUP, 1959.

14 “Semi-Annual Report on the International Educational Exchange Program, July-December 31,1955”, 23 April 1956, D.F., 511.553/4-2356, R.G. 59, NARA.

15 R.H. Vogel, “The Making of the Fulbright Program”, Annals of the American Academy of Political Science, May 1987, p. 12-13, and W. JOHNSON and F. Colligan, The Fulbright Program. A History, Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press, 1965, p. 18-21.

16 J. Helmreich, Cathering rare ores. The Diplomacy of Uranium Acquisitions (1943-1954), Princeton, PUP, 1986, p.94-95; P. Buch et J. Vanderlinden, L’uranium, la Belgique et les puissances. Marché de dupes ou chef-d’oeuvre diplomatique, Bruxelles, De Boeck, 1995, p.76-77. For the case of Brachet, see 22 December 1950, D.F., 511.553/12-2250, R.G. 59, NARA. On the other hand, Brachet took part as visiting scientist in a mission to the US organised by BAEF in July 1946.

17 Based upon updated versions of the BAEF Directory for Belgian fellows.

18 R.M. Rosenzweig, “Foreign Policy and Education, A Confusion of Purposes”, Journal of Higher Education, 37 (5), May 1966, p. 277-280.

19 European Recovery Program, Belgium and Luxembourg Country Study; Washington, ECA, 1949, p. 62.

20 J. Helmreich, United States Relations with Belgium and the Congo, 1940-1960, Newark-London, Associated University Presses, 1998, p.208.

21 J. McGlade, “From Business Reform Programme to Production Drive. The Transformation of US Technical Assistance to Western Europe”, in M. Kipping and O. Bjarnar (eds.), The Americanisation of European Business. The Marshall Plan and the Transfer of US Management Models, London, Routledge, 1998, p.27.

22 F. Baird to H. Gilchrist (ECA/Brussels, Chief of Mission), 12 June 1951, Office of the Special Representative to Europe, Office of the Deputy for Economic Affairs, PTAD, Country Files, box 4, R.G. 469 (US Foreign Assistance Agencies, 1948-1961), NARA.

23 K. Bertrams, “Productivité économique et paix sociale au sein du plan Marshall. Les limites de l’influence américaine auprès des industriels et syndicats belges (1948-1960)”, Cahiers d'histoire du temps présent, 9, November 2001, p. 191-235.

24 M. Kipping, ‘“Operation Impact’: Converting European Employers to the American Creed” in Kipping and Bjarnar 1998: 55-73.

25 B. Boel., “The European Productivity Agency and the development of management education in Western Europe in the 1950’s”, in T. Gourvish and N. Tiratsoo (eds.), Missionaries and Managers: American Influences on European Management Education, 1945-60 Manchester, MUP, 1998, p.37-38.

26 Three of them had direct study experience overseas: C. Mertens de Wilmar (U. of Louvain/Leuven) was a Baef fellow (Harvard 1949-1951); R. Clémens (U. of Liege) had conducted research at various American universities with BAEF in 1951; and A. Vlerick (U. of Ghent) took part in the Harvard International Seminar of 1953.

27 T. Coleman (International Cooperation Administration), “Belgian Project for Ford Foundation Financing”, 21 February 1956, Bureau of Public Affairs, International Educational Exchange Service, European Country Files, box 1, R.G. 59, NARA.

28 S. Schlossman, M. Sedlak and H. Wechsi.er, “The “New Look”: The Ford Foundation and the Revolution in Business Education”, Graduate Management Admission Council Papers, 1987, Los Angeles, p.54-63, reprinted in R. Locke (ed.), Management Education, Aldershot, Ashgate, 1998, p. 156-165.

29 D. Janssen to G. Deurinck, 15 October 1965, Fonds de la Fondation Industrie-Université (FIU), A 350, box 5, Archives Générales du Royaume, Brussels [hereafter AGR].

30 T. Hubert, R. Talpaert and G. Van Dijck, “Belgium: the Dynamics of European Network”, in G. Gemeuj (ed.), The Ford Foundation and Europe (1950’s-1970's). Cross-Fertilization of Learning in Social Science and Management, Brussels, European Interuniversity Press 1998 p.399.

31 G. Gemelli, “From Imitation to Competitive-Cooperation. The Ford Foundation and Management Education in Western and Eastern Europe (1950’s-1970’s)”, in Gemelli 1998-266-272.

32 G. Lombard (HBS Associate Dean) to G. Deurinck, 26 August 1971, FIU, box 27, AGR.

33 R. Locke, The Collapse of the American Management Mystique, Oxford, OUP, 1996, p. 48.

34 J. McGlade, “The big push: the export of American business education to Western Europe after Second World War”, in L. Engwall and V. Zamagni (eds.), Management education in historical perspective, Manchester, MUP, 1998, p.58-64.

35 I. Maes, E. Buyst and M. Bouchet, ‘The post-1945 development of economics in Belgium”, in R.W. Coats (ed.), The Development of Economies in Western Europe since 1945, London, Routledge, 2000, p. 96-100.

36 M. Kipping, “American Management Consulting Companies in Western Europe, 1920 to 1990: Products, Reputation and Relationships”, Business History Review, 73, 1999, p. 219-220.

37 P. Fridenson, “La circulation internationale des modes managériales”, in J.-P. Bouilloud et B.-P. Lécuyer (eds.), L'invention de la gestion. Histoire et pratiques, Paris, L’Harmattan, 1994, p.83.

Table des illustrations

Titre Graph 1: Academics among the BAEF fellows (1920-1950)
URL http://books.openedition.org/irhis/docannexe/image/1966/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 45k
Titre Graph 2: Academics among the BAEF fellows (1950-2000)
URL http://books.openedition.org/irhis/docannexe/image/1966/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 71k

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