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SDA Bocconi: Forty Years of Success Celebrating Claudio Dematte'

The founder of the School of Management commemorated by friends and colleagues during a conference in the University's Aula Magna

Forty years of work at SDA Bocconi through the personal, professional and human events of its founder, Claudio Dematté, who died in 2004. This was the subject of the encounter held on Tuesday 16 October, in the Aula Magna at Via Gobbi 5 at Università Bocconi, entitled "Taking a Leap of Faith – Claudio Dematté and SDA Bocconi's first forty years", created and organized by SDA Bocconi with the contribution of Achille Marzio Romani, Emeritus Professor of Economic History at Bocconi. "It was an opportunity to get together and commemorate Dematté and honor SDA, not a traditional kind of conference," said the Dean of SDA Bocconi, Alberto Grando, during his opening remarks.
This was made possible through the words and presence of many friends, students and colleagues who knew Demattè both professionally and personally: Andrea Sironi, Giuseppe Airoldi, Maurizio Dallocchio, Severino Salvemini, Elio Borgonovi, Franco Amigoni, Enrico Valdani, Vittorio Coda, Bruno Busacca and many other faculty members from several generations. "I participated in the second 20 years at SDA and I would have liked to have been there for the first 20 years, when it was like a startup," said Rector Andrea Sironi. "The School was the first to launch an international program, the MBA, creating a driving force and innovating force for the rest of the University. About Dematté, I remember his independence, the fact that he was free from conditions and willing to leave any position if he didn't feel as free." It was then Achille Marzio Romani's turn to reconstruct the historical context in which Bocconi and the entire Italian university system struggled between the end of the '60s and '70s. "Those were difficult and challenging years, which, at Bocconi, culminated in 1973 with the killing of Roberto Franceschi. At this time SDA seemed to be at the beginning of an incorrect model, before correcting it and becoming a winning model."
This innovative model rebuilt, but did not copy, the great US business schools, such as Harvard, where a group of young faculty members were sent to learn: "We wanted to import that model," said Grando, "but then SDA was able to liberate itself and outline its own model that was a mediation between the American model and the identity of our country." Claudio Dematté was therefore able to ensure an innovative ability, as well as courage and a great freedom of movement, despite the small amount of resources available. These were SDA's characteristics at its creation, which Enrico Valdani, Director of the Department of Marketing, explained: "SDA was, and still is, a true experimental laboratory in which things were often done unorthodoxly. It was Dematté who started the idea of internationalization when it still seemed premature, with his characteristic way of taking a leap of faith."
Davide Ripamonti
Translated by Jenna Walker
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