Recollection of memories: John Dunning

by John Cantwell and Philippe Gugler

For many of us who became EIBA stalwarts (including current EIBA Fellows John Cantwell, Philippe Gugler and Sarianna Lundan among others), John Dunning personally oversaw our journeys from novice participants in an EIBA conference through to becoming EIBA leaders. John was regularly involved and a continuous influence in EIBA gatherings, from the very beginnings of the organization in the 1970s through to his last conference in 2007. He was an ever-present IB scholarly leader in EIBA conferences from the time of the Madrid conference in 1990, when he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.

John Cantwell attended his first ever academic conference as a PhD student at EIBA 1982 in Fontainebleau, where he rather nervously presented a Dunning and Cantwell paper with the ‘other’ John in the audience. John Cantwell’s rapid rise within EIBA, becoming UK representative on the Board in 1984-5 when Neil Hood became the incoming President, was obviously due in large part to his affiliation with John Dunning, by that time as a junior colleague in Reading. On various occasions in the early 1990s John Cantwell served with John on the faculty panels for the EIBA doctoral tutorial, to which John acted as a Special Adviser. That the tutorial nowadays bears his name is an appropriate recognition of John’s enormous enthusiasm for this event. John Cantwell can still remember many instances of discussing PhD student submissions with John prior to the tutorial, which exchanges ultimately benefited the students through our sharpened reactions.

Perhaps the most poignant reminder of John Cantwell’s EIBA conference in Reading in 1992 is that it coincided with the year of John’s retirement from Reading. We marked this occasion by presenting John with a festschrift on his behalf, edited by Peter Buckley and Mark Casson, a copy of which was distributed to all the participants.

Whenever John attended EIBA conferences he was always keen to share his knowledge, his new ideas and latest projects, and to listen carefully to his interlocutors, from Professors to PhD students. He welcomed challenges to his theories, and enjoyed friendly debates. He would do his best to help younger scholars by providing them with comments and suggestions. He was also keen to open the doors of conferences to young scholars. Philippe Gugler started his adventure at EIBA thanks to John. One day, he got a phone call from Krzysztof Obloj who was organizing the 1994 EIBA conference in Warsaw. Krzysztof once told Philippe that John had advised him to invite Philippe to present a paper at his conference. Philippe was invited to attend the famous Gilleleye (Denmark) one week long workshops as well, thanks to John’s intervention. We are convinced that many scholars earned the privilege of joining the EIBA community thanks to John’s intervention. Most of them, including ourselves, still do not fully realize how many opportunities we received owing to John’s intervention behind the scenes without letting us know that he was the instigator.

John invariably gave great support to EIBA organizers. He has always keen to participate in opening sessions, panel sessions and other activities – such as meetings with the main sponsors – that would contribute to the success of the conference. He not only attended sessions in which he was a speaker, a presenter or a chair, but was active in numerous other sessions as a regular participant. Usually, John was at the conference location from the first session of the first day to the last one of the last day.

At EIBA, John would share his thoughts related to his latest publications and his current research and would also adapt his presentations according to the main themes of each Conference and to the current economic and political context. At EIBA conferences as elsewhere, John never just reminisced on “old wine in old bottles”. He was always keen to bring new value added to the academic debates on IB. While eager to direct his thoughts to multiple issues related to IB, John main contributions at EIBA more specifically focused inter alia on the theory of IB and on the potential needs to adapt such theory in accordance with the technological and globalization changes affecting firms and governments.

It was most fitting when John was elected as the first Dean of the EIBA Fellows from 2002-6. During this start-up phase for the Fellows, John Cantwell served as John’s Secretary/Treasurer of the Fellows. Participating in the Fellows has enabled many senior IB scholars to fruitfully continue to contribute to EIBA. Under John’s early leadership, we began the Fellows plenary session at each conference, and through our contacts elected a range of Distinguished Honorary Fellows, each of whom has come to the conference and contributed in some way. John’s initiative in this area has ensured the involvement of many business leaders, public figures, and eminent scholars in related disciplines whose work is relevant for the IB field. John also greatly enjoyed the social events during EIBA conferences. His presence at social events offered many scholars an opportunity to approach him and to make his acquaintance. On most of these occasions, his wife Christine accompanied him at EIBA conferences. There, the Dunnings would enjoy a good time with their close friends. The EIBA community benefited so much from the kindness of this wonderful “Gentleman”.

John Cantwell and John Dunning at the 1992 EIBA Conference in Reading
John Dunning, Philippe Gugler and Sarianna Lundan, 2007 EIBA conference in Catania (John’s last EIBA conference)
John Dunning and Philippe Gugler, 2006 EIBA Conference in Fribourg