Danica Purg, President of the Central and East European Management Development Association, Believes That the Burgeoning Number of Business Schools in the Region Play an Important Role in Shaping and Influencing Political Reform
EBF: How would you describe the current state of business education in Central and Eastern Europe?
DP: The first thing we must remember is that management education in Central and Eastern Europe is only 20 years old. That is when the IEDC-Bled School of Management in Slovenia was founded, the first in the region. Ail the other management schools are only 15 years old or less. With that in mind, I have to say that we have come very far in a short space of time. There are hundreds of management schools today in this part of the world.
One of the successes of management education in Central and Eastern Europe is that we now have five or six schools that are so well developed that they already compete with the leading schools in Europe and beyond.
Business schools, whether they are international or local, are playing a crucial role in the reform processes of the region. Many reforms were implemented because of the active role of those schools and the people that were educated there. Thus, Central and Eastern European management schools have a very important historical role, rather like the role of the American schools at the beginning of the 20th century, or the Western European institutions immediately after World War II.
EBF: In what areas of business education is there a need for improvement?
DP: We have many schools, but only a few of these are international. It is understandable that in Russia, for instance, there are no important international business schools because they have such a huge market within the country. However, even in Russia they are now preparing to build a very important international business school, which it is believed could compete with the best in the world. I am fortunate enough to be acquainted with this project.
EBF: You have been one of the pioneers in the field of management education in Central and Eastern Europe. What motivated you personally to become so involved?
DP: I am very proud to be one of the pioneers in management development, not only in Slovenia, but also in Central and Eastern Europe. I was the founding president of the IEDC-Bled School of Management, which is now well-known in the world for its innovations in business education. I am also the founding president of the Central and East European Management Development Association (CEEMAN). The biggest motivation for me is to witness how companies in Slovenia, and in the countries from which our participants come, have been restructured and rejuvenated, and how the people who were educated here have been able to make a difference. I should add that 70 per cent of our students come from outside Slovenia, so the effect is really widespread.
As CEEMAN president, I helped to set the standards of quality in the Central and Eastern European management development institutions and to educate the faculty. I also believe that I contributed to the self-confidence of the deans and directors in this part of the world who were, in the beginning, looking too much to the US and to the West for inspiration. They were thinking about what to take from the West, instead of thinking about leadership in their own context. They were focusing on leadership skills for 2020, not for today. Now the situation is changing and many of these people are real innovators.
EBF: Your own educational background is in political science. Has that helped you to understand the world of management in modern-day Central and Eastern Europe?
DP: Yes. I have always been interested in understanding global developments and this certainly helped me to understand the context and environment. It has also helped me to go out to different parts of the world and create an extensive international network. …