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Globalization processes and national business elites in Europe

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Project log

Eric Davoine
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While recent contributions introduce the need for dialog between global knowledge management (GKM) and global talent management (GTM) to facilitate repatriate knowledge transfer, a literature gap exists regarding the implementation of this hybrid approach. Using the theoretical backgrounds of repatriate knowledge, GKM and GTM, we define the challenges of retaining repatriate knowledge and suggest approaches to overcome these. Building on the qualitative case study of a German multinational company we introduce a specific organizational measure, the country expert program, which, by being at the crossroads between GKM and GTM and thus facilitating learning, overcomes repatriate knowledge transfer's major challenges.
Felix Bühlmann
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»Internationalisierung der Volks- und Betriebswirtschaftslehre: Exzellenzimport, kosmopolitisches Kapital oder amerikanische Dominanz?«. In recent times internationality has become an indicator for scientific excellence arguing that it will create talent, diversity, and inspiration. But what does “internationality” really stand for in science? In order to answer this question we study two of the most hierarchized and internationalised disciplines – economics and business studies – in one of the most internationalised academic labour markets – Switzerland. Based on a historical database of 411 (full and associate) university professors of economics and business studies at three benchmarks (1957, 1980, and 2000), we investigate the evolution of internationality during the second part of the 20th century, and its link to scientific prestige and recognition. For both disciplines we find an increase in foreign professors and internationalisation of Swiss professors due to doctorial and postdoctoral phases spent in the US and other shorter stays abroad. This development can first be observed in economics, but business studies have managed to “catch up.” Using three negative binomial regression models we show that Switzerland imports excellence among professors and that high scientific prestige is linked to stays abroad, especially in the dominant US fields of economics and business studies.
Felix Bühlmann
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Männlich, Akademiker, Armeeoffizier, freisinnig: Schweizer Wirtschaftsführer bildeten bis in die zweite Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts eine exklusive Gruppe. Ab den 1990er-Jahren internationalisierten sich die Konzernspitzen, die nationalen Seilschaften verloren an Bedeu- tung. Die bis dahin für die Schweiz typische Kohärenz von wirtschaftlichen, politischen und administrativen Eliten wurde brüchig. Basierend auf biografischen Daten zu über 20 000 Personen zeichnen die Autoren das Bild einer Wirtschaftselite im Umbruch. Die systematische Analyse der Herkunft, Ausbildung und Netzwerke von Spitzenmanagern schliesst eine Lücke der Schweizer Wirtschaftsgeschichte. Das Buch hinterfragt das Narrativ leistungsbasierter, sozial offener Eliten und liefert Erklärungsansätze für den heutigen Vertrauensverlust in die wirtschaftlichen und politischen Entscheidungsträger. André Mach, Thomas David, Stéphanie Ginalski und Felix Bühlmann forschen an der Sozial- und Politikwissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Universität Lausanne und haben gemeinsam das «Observatoire des élites suisses» (Obelis) mit Schwerpunkt Elitenforschung initiiert.
Eric Davoine
added a research item
Research on European business elites has been dominated by a ‘national career model’ approach, arguing that each country has a specific top management career pattern. In recent years, this line of argument has been challenged due to the increasing international circulation of top managers. To examine the impact of internationalisation on career models, we will draw on a database of 916 top managers in Germany, Switzerland, France and Britain. Our field-analytical analysis reveals that the most important career distinction – between internal and external careers – is valid beyond national models. In addition, international managers do not constitute a separate homogenous group: in some countries, they imitate national career patterns; in others, they pursue complementary strategies.
Eric Davoine
added a research item
This paper investigates the impacts of globalization processes on the Swiss business elite community during the 1980–2010 period. Switzerland has been characterized in the 20th century by its extraordinary stability and by the strong cohesion of its elite community. To study recent changes, we focus on Switzerland’s 110 largest firms’ by adopting a diachronic perspective based on three elite cohorts (1980, 2000, and 2010). An analysis of interlocking directorates allows us to describe the decline of the Swiss corporate network. The second analysis focuses on top managers’ profiles in terms of education, nationality as well as participation in national community networks that used to reinforce the cultural cohesion of the Swiss elite community, especially the militia army. Our results highlight a slow but profound transformation of top management profiles, characterized by a decline of traditional national elements of legitimacy and the emergence of new “global” elements. The diachronic and combined analysis brings into light the strong cultural changes experienced by the national business elite community.