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The 1950s

Georges Doriot


“My only desire is not to regret, and perhaps have them regret in ten years from now, that there really was a need for a distinguished European Graduate School of Business”  (General Georges Doriot, personal notes, 1957)

The Treaty of Rome, signed in March 1957, paved the way for the creation of the European Economic Community. The founding fathers of European integration had a vision far beyond economic efficiency: they wanted to put an end to war in Europe by increasing interdependence, mutual understanding and cooperation among European nations.

Three months later, in July 1957, the Paris Chamber of Commerce agreed to establish a European business school in Fontainebleau, outside Paris, inspired by the vision of General Georges Doriot, a French national who was a business professor at Harvard Business School. The implementation of that vision was led by Doriot’s former students, Olivier Giscard d’Estaing, and Claude Janssen.

The school had a double mission: to train graduates for business and to advance European understanding within business. From its origins, the school had a pan-European focus and policies: no nationality would account for more than one-third of students and all students would be trilingual in English, French and German. With these policies in place, the school attracted students with a vocation for international business. The first MBA intake of 57 participants was in the summer of 1959. U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s congratulatory telegram heralded “the establishment of this institute which is destined to play a creative role in the economic affairs of Europe and the world.”

INSEAD's inaguration, 1959