Business School Set To Open Paris Branch

Two weeks from now, the Harvard Business School (HBS) will open a European Research Center in Paris, extending its ability to study global economic trends.

The center will help foster the research efforts of HBS faculty, as well as bolster the school’s curriculum through stronger ties to businesses and financial institutions within Europe, HBS Dean Kim B. Clark said in a statement earlier this month.

The center will be fully operational by June and will join other HBS research offices in California, Argentina and Hong Kong.

“As a school with a global interest, we need to have more connections with European economic trends, from European integration, to the Euro, to the growth of financial markets there,” said Professor Dwight B. Crane, head of HBS’ European Research Initiative.

In the past, faculty members had to conduct their research independently.

But Crane said HBS recognized the need for more direct, centralized interaction with Europe.

“The amount of faculty who travel to Europe is huge already,” he said. “To have someone there establishing connections with financial and political leaders gives us a better head start.”

While the research center will also eventually provide more reliable curricular material for MBA and doctoral candidates at the HBS, students will not be able to use its resources directly.

“We’ll be able to have more European cases in the curriculum,” Crane said.“But the center is not really designed for use by students. We’ll get calls from students, and try to be helpful, but we can’t accommodate their projects.”

The center’s reach will also be limited by budgetary restraints caused by the recent U.S. recession, competition for funds with HBS’ other overseas offices and lower than usual annual gifts to the HBS, Crane said.

While Business School officials refused to comment on the exact cost of the center, Crane said the new project would not cost more than one million dollars.

“Because of the slow down, we’re approaching [the center] slowly and conservatively,” Crane said. “In addition, the costs in Paris will be replacing costs back in Boston.”

The European Research Center will be housed in one floor of a former residential brownstone near the Champs Elysee in Paris. After telephone lines and furniture are installed this week, the office will accommodate two research assistants, a secretary, and the center’s executive director, Vincent Dessain.

“One of the most important issues for an academic institution, and a business school in particular, is to be at a state-of-the-art level in research and case writing,” said Dessain in a statement.

Dessain will help facilitate individual faculty research, as well as a number of ongoing projects initiated at the business school’s Allston campus, including studies of corporate governance, health care and the telecommunications industry.

“Besides the growth of life science research, telecom research is a big deal for us, since wireless communications are much bigger in Europe than in the US,” said Crane, whose office will coordinate European research projects from Allston.