Arnold Walravens' analysis of the "themes" emphasized in the annual conferences '93-97 finds a primary focus on national economic and organization-level restructuring.

At these conferences, myriad academic scholars and international experts from CEE and Western Europe tracked the relevant restructuring trends and East-West linkages, business owners and leaders described progress and challenges in their firms, and deans, directors, and professors discussed what was happening in their various institutions.

(Photo from: the 4th CEEMAN Annual Conference, Čelákovice, Czech Republic, 1996)
CEEMAN Annual Conferences '93-97

1st Annual Conference - Brdo, Slovenia
1993: Management Development in Central and Eastern Europe

The first annual conference of CEEMAN, held in Brdo, Slovenia began with a story from Alice in Wonderland. Alice meets a Cheshire cat and asks which way to go from here. The cat says it very much depends on where she wants to go. However, Alice isn't certain; so it is agreed that what really matters is that she gets somewhere….

"Today the emerging market economies of CEE, confronted by the task of finding their way from the old, unsuccessful and ideologically constrained system into new and modern business and social environments are facing a dilemma similar to Alice's. Clearly these countries want to escape from the old system, but it is much less clear where they want to be in the future."

The introduction went on: "Business education and management development institutions in CEE countries have an important role to play in helping their societies to find the right way toward a more successful, democratic and market-oriented future. To support their efforts to develop top-class management in CEE, these institutions have created CEEMAN, a framework for cooperation, exchange of information and better communication within the CEE family and with the world."

The May 7-9, 1993 meeting was attended by 65 delegates from 25 countries, representing 49 participating schools and universities, as well as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP New York), International Labor Organization (Geneva), and EMFD (Brussels). One day was devoted to a review and update on management development needs and trends in CEE. A second addressed the organization and workings of CEEMAN.

Andrzej Koźmiński introduced management development challenges by noting that many CEE management institutions are facing problems dealing with "Western influences" and struggling to develop "international cooperation" in areas of curriculum, teacher and student exchanges, and so on. Then he laid out a challenge: "Instead of building low-quality replicas of the programs of the Western schools, the CEE institutions should strive for high-quality, region-specific programs based on the principle that 'only the best is good enough'." This would mean becoming "active partners" with Western schools, rather than "followers or passive recipients of tailored programs."

Later, Koźmiński detailed how different organizations in CEE required "different managerial skills and expertise": Ma-and-Pa Shops need business basics; Growing Sharks (larger private firms) need forecasting and growth strategies; Mixed-Marriages, (firms with foreign ownership) need a stronger customer orientation; Pretenders, (market-oriented but over-staffed firms) need cost-cutting; and Dinosaurs (huge systems) need complete restructuring. Derek Abell, in turn, noted how top enterprises today compete on both "costs and qualities at the same time" and through "better buyer/seller relations." To move the region forward in these regards, he opined, "the majority of management development activities in CEE countries should be Eastern-led and Western-supported." Next there were individual country reports from member schools on their progress and challenges and working panels on program development, marketing, and administration issues in member schools.

On the second day, the agenda turned to the business of forming CEEMAN. CEEMAN Board members led discussions on:

- Sergey Mordovin: Faculty, staff, student exchanges, credits, accreditation

- Irén Gyökér: Membership, budget, and funding

- Danica Purg: Programs and conferences

- Velimir Srića: Newsletter and communications

- Sergey Mordovin and Stefan Kwiatkowski: External relationships

At the meeting, members also formally adopted the Charter of CEEMAN. Within months came the first publication of conference proceedings and of the CEEMAN News (see Sidebar: CEEMAN NEWS).

Sidebar: CEEMAN News
Velimir Srića, a professor from the Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb, Croatia was the first editor of the CEEMAN NEWS. In his initial, "Letter from the Editor," Velimir recalled studying for his MBA, reading through a scientific journal, and finding in it a poem "In Broken Images" by Robert Graves (1895-1985), the English poet, author, and scholar. He remembered thinking, "The author should have rather confronted us with facts and findings from his own research, thus teaching us something. Why a poem?"

Graves began his poem "He is quick, thinking in clear images/I am slow, thinking in broken images. He becomes dull, trusting to his clear images/I become sharp, mistrusting my broken images." He concludes, "He continues quick and dull in his clear images/I continue slow and sharp in my broken images. He in a new confusion of his understanding/I in a new understanding of my confusion."
Velimir goes on in his letter, "The poem seems to appropriately describe the complex situation faced the emerging market economies of CEE. On the one hand there is a clear, sharp, but to a large extent irrelevant picture of what should be done to reshape, retailor, and redesign enterprises…as well as management education and training. On the other, five years of unsuccessful transplantation of Western concepts into the CEEMAN world have created but a few success stories, by far exceeded by the disappointments."

"It has become clear that we need 'a new understanding of our confusion,' a set of fresh and relevant images, even though 'broken and unclear' to the transition process from the old system. Your cooperation with CEEMAN NEWS and your participation in CEEMAN activities will help us in creating such a framework."

The first issue of CEEMAN NEWS, an eight-page fold-over newsletter, went out in the fall of 1993. Issue 68, Summer 2013, featured nearly 40 pages of text, color photographs, and jazzy graphics in a glossy magazine format.

2nd Annual Conference - Warsaw, Poland
1994: East-West Business Partnerships

"We don't have time to wait another 20, 30 years to educate young generations in a new entrepreneurial spirit"--this from Danica Purg welcoming nearly 100 participants from 18 countries to CEEMAN's second annual conference in Warsaw, Poland. She went on that the conference included representatives from East-West business partnerships, NGOs and international organizations, and from management development institutions from around the world: "Our common goal is to share the experiences of our partnerships and to learn where we are now and how to improve."

Conference host Koźmiński laid out the landscape of cooperative networks in business today and introduced Gary Gabriel, UNDP representative in Poland, who addressed "The Importance of Business Education for Business Partnerships—Or 'How to be Invited to More Weddings'." He spoke from experience about the difficulties that Japanese and Africans have had in forming partnerships with the West and how CEE schools have to be "reality testers" with their Western partners. Among other bon mots of advice: Differentiate yourself from the competition; Tune in and listen to your customers; Maintain an ongoing public relations effort; Keep pace with ever-changing markets and technology; Keep on learning—don't feel you know it all.

Next, Jerzy Dietl, professor of marketing, Lodz University, Poland described problems of "social passiveness" by Polish managers that made it difficult for them to be strong partners with Western businesses. Peter Kraljič, of McKinsey & Co., then offered a sober review of the state of business affairs in CEE, noting that "access to Western markets and technologies is proving to be more difficult than expected," and that "resource availability, be it in terms of capital or management skills, is still questionable." He also reminded the delegates that CEE businesses were starting to see the "true face" of capitalism which, while efficient, can be "rather cold and even ruthless" and that growing concerns about "corruption, crime, and disorder" could undermine East-West business relations.

These remarks provoked heated hallway discussions among the delegates about their own restructuring and partnership experiences, points taken up by panel discussions of East-West business partnerships from a Western perspective (Krzysztof Obłoj, Warsaw University, chair); from a local perspective (Ove Dahl, ABB Poland); from a human resource perspective (Danica Purg) and then from a closing panel on educational partnerships (Derek Abell, chair, plus Madis Habakuk, Sergey Mordovin, and others from CEEMAN).

Here it was agreed that CEE businesses must move from "shock therapy" to a stage of "managed change" and that CEE schools should redouble their efforts to train and develop local managers in human resource management skills.

3rd Annual Conference - St Petersburg, Russia
1995: From Restructuring to Continuous Improvement - Lessons from the Best-Run Companies

Sergey Mordovin, Director of IMISP, introduced the third CEEMAN annual conference held in St. Petersburg, Russia, September 14-16, 1995 with this candid comment, "The political and legal instability, the unpredictability of the rules of the game, the shortage of skilled labor in practically all spheres, and the wild, criminal way of doing business of some of the new businessmen, drive us mad." He went on that he was no so naïve as to believe that that the conferees would find solutions to all or even some of these problems, but that he was also an optimist by nature and trusted that an open exchange of ideas and experiences during the conference would help in their solution. Vladimir Putin, Deputy Mayor of St. Petersburg, followed him to the podium and said that the most important challenge on the way to restructuring in Russia was the training of people.

The program featured a presentation by Andrey Spartak, of the All-Russia Market Research Institute, who addressed the need for more coordination in trade liberalization and reducing the "management deficit" in his land. Next, Professor George Taucher, IMD Lausanne, drawing on his prior experiences studying Vladimir Gurov, CEO of the Bolshevichka Clothing Company in Moscow, spoke about the importance of accelerating the market transition of CEE firms and of their forming joint ventures with the West.

Koźmiński then summarized his research on the "best-run companies" in CEE and their movement through stages of fighting for survival, functional restructuring, and process restructuring to an ongoing phase of continuous improvement. Here, he noted, the best-run companies are all involved with some form of cooperation, alliance, or partnership with Western market leaders but retain their strong connection to "local conditions, mentality, and market requirements." Two panel sessions followed on success factors in restructuring local companies (Peter Bartha, Dean, IMD Budapest, chair) and in joint-ventures (George Taucher, chair). Ending on a festive note, delegates dined at the Shuvalov Palace, described as "one of the pearls in the necklace of St. Petersburg's palaces," and danced in a hall decorated with murals depicting the Trojan War

The next day there was a panel of deans and professors in CEE addressing the implications of continuous improvement for management education in CEE. Among the subjects tabled was the opportunity to form East-East academic partnerships among CEEMAN schools. The conference concluded with the presentation of winners of the first CEEMAN case writing competition.

4th Annual Conference - Prague, Czech Republic
1996: Managing in Transition in Central and Eastern Europe: Stage II
The fourth CEEMAN annual conference was hosted by the Czech Management Center (CMC), October 17 to 19, 1996, and included 92 delegates from 23 countries. Conferees were alerted to the newly-published Directory of Leading Business Schools in Central and Eastern Europe, edited by Michael Minkov, which covered nearly all CEEMAN member schools from the region.

Professor Jaroslav Jirasek, of CMC, led off with a spirited account of the meaning of management across the centuries, beginning with the Greeks (a show of power), through the Industrial Revolution (a means of coercion), and on to scientific management (the application of knowledge). He reminded delegates that Prague had hosted the First International Congress on Scientific Management in the 1920s.

Jirasek contributed a chapter to the 1994 volume, Managing in Emerging Market Economies: Cases from the Czech and Slovak Republics, edited by Daniel S. Fogel. Fast forwarding to the present, he elaborated his findings that many industrial sectors were not "ready for all-Czech management," and that a high number of foreign managers were still needed in the most competitive industries: automotive manufacturing, electronics, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals. "The country is not yet fully exposed to the international market," he said, adding that managers were "not used to the hyper- competition of the West."

The conference was addressed to the next stage of industrial transformation in CEE, looking at how local firms in CEE were matching the capabilities of Western ones (though not yet global leaders). Nenad Filipović, of IEDC, and Gabor Rekettye and Jozsef Vörös, of Janus Pannonius University, Hungary, presented case studies of two companies moving into this stage.

Among the business panelists, Hans Buss, then Vice-President of Unilever Hungary, told how his company had been reorganized into a "process-driven organization down to the factory level." In turn, Janos Vecsenyi, Associate Dean of IMC, Hungary, described how some of the region's privatized "dinosaurs" were successfully managing the transition. Keys to success were gaining access to capital markets and empowering middle managers, who were used to a "low level of authority," so that they gain the confidence and skills to operate independently.

On a social note, delegates visited and dined at Melnik Castle, once the home of Princess Ludmila, the grandmother of the Good King Wenceslas, that went to ruin during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) but was reconstructed in Renaissance style and later purchased and operated by the Lobkowicz family.

5th Annual Conference - Sinaia, Romania
1997: Developing and Mobilizing East and Central Europe's Human Potential for Management
Nenad Filipović spoke about the "strengths and weaknesses of Eastern and Western Europe in management" to focus delegates' attention at CEEMAN's fifth annual conference in Sinaia, Romania, October 16-18, 1997. Among his points: "In general, the level of management education of East European managers is considerably inferior." Then he went on that East Europeans strengths included their solid basic education, broad technical education, and ability to survive in severe conditions. "However, although they are generally flexible, that does not mean they know how to take initiative." This was grist for mill for conferees who spent the next hours sharing ideas and experiences on developing and mobilizing human potential in CEE.

Mr. Gerald Smyth, IMI International, Ireland, and conference host Gabriel Matauan, FIMAN, Romania, described their ambitious 20-month development program in 1996-97 aimed at improving private sector restructuring in Romania. Top managers from over 30 companies, and a team of senior (3) and middle managers (9) from each firm, plus 20 some consultants, were involved in a strategic and skills audit of their company, received coaching and consultation about their improvement plans, visited peers and companies in Paris and in Dublin, Ireland, and participated in regular workshops and progress reviews.

One finding reported was that the managers developed "a new attitude toward the change process and an awareness that learning is business. The program has accelerated the restructuring process by getting companies to face unexpected changes, analyze their situation, and adapt to it." Delegates commented approvingly on this advanced (albeit expensive) approach to management and organization development.

Another session featured leading experiences in management development in six CEE countries. Jan Sjoelin, Director of Eastern European Programs, Stockholm School of Economics, described the corporate management program run in Poland that emphasized "discovery learning"; Tatiana Komissarova, MIRBIS, Russia, talked about a program that involved managers in a consulting project with the World Trade Center in Moscow; and Bohdan Budzan, IMI-Kyiv, Ukraine, described the use of computers in the classroom for use in marketing simulations and real-time financial analyses. On a festive note, conferees celebrated the fifth anniversary of CEEMAN at Peleș Castle in the Carpathian Mountains, located near Sinaia along a medieval route linking Transylvania and Wallachia.

Koźmiński and Abell closed the conference with observations that acknowledged progress in management development in CEE but also highlighted challenges ahead where CEE schools would be called on to lead, rather than follow, the West.

Related materials:

Text — adapted from the book "CEEMAN - 20 Years of Creating History" by Philip H. Mirvis and Arnold Walravens, 2013

Production and Design — Artyom Ushnichkov, 2018