Our history

Peter Lorange - Internationalization

In 1989, Peter Lorange became BI’s president. Lorange had a doctorate from Harvard Business School and had worked at several US and European business schools. As the newly elected president, he was particularly concerned with internationalising BI and making the institution a leading business school in Europe.

Peter Lorange also stood for an expansive strategy and BI’s position within the education system was further strengthened during his term as president. During this period, numerous agreements with both private companies and public administration institutions were formalised.

The 1990s

In many ways, Norwegian society was still a planned economy when it came to the education sector in the early 1990s. The authorities had little faith in any basis for other models than the public one. However, the economy eventually became more open and less regulated. Before, BI needed approval from the Ministry of Church and Education (KUD) for everything the school wanted to do. This was gradually relaxed over time, and BI was given more freedom to solve its own tasks.

Under Minister Gudmund Hernes, there was an education policy that changed the conditions for BI’s role in the education system. For example, emphasis was placed on concentrating higher education into fewer and stronger education centres, and developing a national network with work distribution between institutions. This mainly affected public institutions, but during the negotiations with the Norwegian School of Management (NMH) and Oslo Handelshøyskole (OHH), BI learned that the Ministry did not have a negative view as regards concentration within the private sector as well.

The work on merging BI with NMH and OHH started back under Jørgen Randers in 1989, but the proposed agreement was not supported by the faculty. However, in 1992, both institutions reached out to BI again for new negotiations as the costs of improving these two small private schools were too great. BI finally achieved mergers with NMH and OHH in 1992, NILA and Oslo Markedshøyskole in 1993 and Bankakademiet in 1994. Lorange believed that if you were going to be serious about quality – which meant relevant research and education – you could not have other players in the market that, from a propaganda standpoint, undersell you. The consolidation strengthened BI’s position within the education system, as the institution nearly controlled the market with regard to higher education in business administration in the Oslo region. This also allowed BI to focus on competing against more quality-conscious friends, such as NHH in Bergen.

In the early 1990s, BI institutionalised its collaboration with businesses and industry through the establishment of BI Partners. In return for financial support, the partners had the right to participate in special seminars, and a dedicated part-time MBA was developed for employees in partner companies. The offer vis-à-vis the lifelong-learning segment was also established. This took place through the launch of the Master of Management programme in 1992.

Lorange had a strong desire to strengthen the research side. It was very imbalanced at that time, and there was generally too little research. As a step in encouraging faculty to research more, he introduced performance appraisals in connection with annual reporting. This had an impact and he continued this effort by working to strengthen the faculty by elevating a single unified team – instead of forming an A team and a B team.

Under Lorange there was also a restructuring of the school year. The long semesters were cut down to multiple shorter semesters with additional tests along the way. The purpose was to give the students the opportunity to receive feedback on how they were doing in the course, so they could make adjustments if necessary.