Internationally recognised innovation

Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) has always been at the forefront of education and research. Here, we discuss how they tailored their services to match the changing business landscape


With about 200 resident faculty members in the Universityís eight departments, and some 50 visiting and adjunct faculty, AUEB is rec-ognised as the number one academic institution in Greece in the areas of economics and business administration and one of the leading institu-tions in Europe in its fields. Throughout these years, AUEBís faculty have been conducting rigorous research that has influenced the development of knowledge in economics and management, and have been developing effective academic programs that have shaped generations of managers and leaders in the country, as well as internationally.

AUEB is the most highly sought-after institution in the country for undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers and faculty alike. AUEBís success lies in its four core competences, which also constitute the schoolís strategic objectives: feeding of innovative research into teaching, developing a culture of responsible leadership, focusing on international orientation, and cultivating a spirit of entrepreneurship.

Interweaving research
Research at AUEB, both theoretical and applied, is organised around a network of 25 individual research laboratories and provide valuable input to teaching. As an example, an invaluable by-product of research which feeds directly into teaching is the AUEB Case Study series on Southern European firms, practices and niches. Training is also enhanced through their innovative Industrial Training Programs (ITPs) which are delivered in collaboration with leading firms. Within the ITPs, students have the unique opportunity to learn practical skills, tools and tips from experienced professionals. Companies that have repeatedly offered these ITPs include McKinsey (course on Developing a Successful Business Plan), Ernst & Young (seminar series on Risk Management), RREEF/Deutsche Bank (seminar series on Project Appraisal), and others.

A new generation of responsible leaders
AUEB is committed to business ethos, environmental responsibility and creation of social value. Over the last decade, CSR has advanced towards the top of the management agenda, propelled by a growing public awareness that business activities have to be sustainable along the dimensions of governance, human rights, and environmental respect. AUEB has been one of the first academic participants of the United Nations Global Compact Initiative (UNGC). This activity is a key input to the ìBusiness Ethics and Corporate Governanceî course and to CSR elements in various courses offered across the MBA. Moreover, it has framed a number of business plans for social enterprises which have been developed by the MBA students with faculty supervision.

In an effort to alleviate the negative effects of the financial crisis, AUEB has been offering pro bono training programs since October 2009 which aim at re-skilling unemployed graduates and SME employees. These programs are organised in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Athens (EBEA) and the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE). Experience gained from interacting with distressed firms during the training proved to be a valuable feedback for the MBA courses. AUEBís MBA International Alumni Association also reacted proactively to the financial crisis and created a ëCareer Safety Netí for its members by sponsoring an ëOutplacement Programí.

From idea to success – entrepreneurship at AUEB
Crossing the traditional target ages for University education, AUEB has recently launched the innovative Youth Entrepreneurship Summer program (YES) which is targeted at students finishing high school, just before they submit their University applications. The program aims at assisting stu-dents to understand the value of entrepreneurship and its contribution to wealth creation. YES has a duration of three weeks, and uses lectures, business games, team work and research in order to equip participants with the knowledge and the skills for an introduction to en-trepreneurial activity.

A relevant international certificate program that has been running successfully for the last five years is AUEBís Special Entrepreneurship Pro-gram (SEP). The objective of this particular program is to provide participants with an insight into the international business environment with an emphasis on South Europe and Greece. The program has attracted a large number of international students, mainly from India, and is open also to the MBA students.

Last but not least, AUEB has developed a specialised stream within the MBA International program on ìEntrepreneurship and Business Devel-opmentî. Students in this stream have the opportunity to take, in addition to the core MBA courses, specialised courses and seminars on European and Asian markets, learn from entrepreneurs, and work together with young leaders and entrepreneurs to develop their own business plans.

International orientation
AUEB has been consistently focused on an international strategy. A number of initiatives have taken place which are quite unique among other B-Schools in Southern Europe. These initiatives have significant impact on the teaching, research and outreach activities of the school.

AUEB runs the most per capita intensive Erasmus program in Greece, and one of the strongest ones in Europe. About 25 percent of the student population takes advantage of the opportunity to spend a year or a semester abroad, and an equal number of European students spend the same amount on AUEBís campus.

The international orientation of AUEB is also reflected in a several other innovative programs. In collaboration with Wharton School, AUEB re-cently developed a highly successful executive seminar on ìSustaining and Developing Business in Southeast Europeî. The seminar blends concepts and practice through a very strong integration of academic and practitioner speakers. Throughout the three blocks of the seminar ñ Understanding Vulnerable Markets Today, Tactics for Managing Risk, and Market Conditions and Outlooks ñ top faculty provide con-ceptual insights, illustrated by mini cases and ìwar storiesî from the field presented by business leaders and high level managers and consultants. Specific themes are also developed in sessions dedicated to Cross-Cultural Interactions, Risk Factors, Discontinuous Change, and Investment Evaluation.

Apart from the Balkan region, AUEB is also interested in building solid relations with China. For that reason, the University applied and suc-ceeded in attracting the establishment of the Athens Business Confucius Institute at AUEB, funded by Hanban (China). The Instituteís objective, beyond the teaching of the Chinese language, is to ìopen the horizonsî of AUEB students to the big market of China, through teaching modules and sponsored research. To that aim, interesting workshops have taken place, jointly organised by AUEB and Chinese faculty and scholars. Also, an important research project is underway, entitled Leadership and Management in a Changing World: Lessons from Ancient East and West Phi-losophy. The results of this innovative research will be presented in an international conference that will take place in June 2011, and will feed the classroom with new models, behaviors and concepts concerning leadership and management.

India has been another country with significant attention during the recent years. Last year, AUEB succeeded in winning sponsorship for a Chair on International Entrepreneurship, funded by the Indian Council of Indian Relations (ICCR) which is aimed at attracting a top academic from India. The first holder of the chair (academic year 2009-10) was Prof. K. Kumar, from IIM-Bangalore. The establishment of this Chair, as well as the large number of research projects that have been initiated prove the increasing attention that AUEB has been devoting to India.

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