The Danny Van Den Bulcke Best Paper Prize

by Francesca Sanna-Randaccio

The Danny Van Den Bulcke Prize is assigned each year to the best paper presented at the EIBA Annual Conference in the broad field of IB studies. This award, a symbol of the pivotal role assigned to excellence by the EIBA community, has been launched to celebrate a very distinguished scholar who contributed to the progress of the IB field and devoted an enormous amount of intellectual support, energy and time to the formation and development of EIBA.

I would like to provide some glimpses of the climate from which the idea of the prize  germinated.  The news that Danny had suddenly passed away on January 9th 2014 shocked EIBA members. We knew he was unwell but still expected/hoped him to reappear full of ideas and projects at the next conference.  The news stirred a very emotional reaction in the EIBA community, as it vividly transpires from the numerous contributions posted in the Memorial website, promptly organized by Ene Kannel  (see the EIBA memorial webpage). With his creative mind, sense of humour, immense energy, great wit and warm friendship, Danny had been able to conquer the heart of EIBA members.

Danny had played a very active role as EIBA Fellow. He became EIBA Fellow in 2003 and was elected Dean of EIBA Fellows for the period 2009-2012. Most of the Fellows were linked to him by fruitful intellectual exchanges and longstanding friendships.  When the sad news of his passing away arrived, a large number of mails were exchanged amongst the Fellows, all showing affection and great esteem for Danny and expressing shock and deep sorrow.   

I was Dean of EIBA Fellows at the time (my term covered the period 2012-15). Interpreting the Fellows’ sentiment, I felt that we had to take an initiative in memory of Danny. After several iterations with Vitor Corado Simões, another Fellow, and consultations with Philippe Gugler, at the time the EIBA Executive Chair, the idea emerged to launch a project in memory of Danny that implied a collaboration between EIBA Fellows and Governing Board.  The process was swift. The 29th of January I proposed to the Fellows to commemorate Danny’s legacy with two initiatives.  The first was a Commemorative Panel Session on Influential Contributions to International Business focused on Danny (John Cantwell organized it in Uppsala).  The second was a long term scheme, initially formulated as an annual “Danny Van Den Bulcke Prize on IB and Economic Development”. I proposed to the  Fellows  to sponsor the € 1.000,00 prize for 2014 while Philippe had to  enquire with the Board if EIBA could take over funding from 2015 onward.

The Fellows accepted with enthusiasm the proposal, which was approved unanimously.  The Fellows’ proposal to launch a Danny Van Den Bulcke award as a permanent feature of the Annual Conference was discussed during the Interim Board meeting at Uppsala May 3rd 2014, and it encountered the favour of the Board members.  The Board however suggested that, instead of a field-specific prize, it would have been more appropriate to introduce an award for the best paper discussed at the conference and to dedicate it to Danny. It was undoubtedly an extremely prestigious way to commemorate our distinguished colleague. The suggestion was highly appreciated by the Fellows, who agreed to reformulate the scope of the 2014 prize they sponsored. Thus the “Danny Van Den Bulcke best paper prize” to be awarded at each annual conference was launched and received final approval at the December Board meeting in Uppsala. Philippe’s role in this process was critical and Rian Drogendijk , EIBA President in 2014,  was very supportive.

The tight interaction between Fellows and EIBA community emerges also from the procedure designed for selecting the prize’s winner.  It was established that each track chair, on the basis of comments made by reviewers, would select the best paper for her/his track, sending it to the selection committee. This committee was formed by five members: the Dean of EIBA Fellows (chair), EIBA Executive Chair, EIBA President, a nominee of the Dean of EIBA Fellows and a nominee of the EIBA President. The first award was assigned at the 2014 annual conference in Uppsala. The name of the winners from 2014 onwards can be found in the EIBA website. 

The “Danny Van Den Bulcke best paper prize” is one of the bricks in the building of institutions and bonds which unite the EIBA Community. It promotes and attests excellence in IB studies. It indicates the ability of EIBA to derive a forward-looking project from the sorrow and grief which had gripped our community in January 2014 when Danny passed away. It is an example of how fruitful may be the collaboration between Governing Board and Fellows, thus between the younger and older generations, who share the aim of finding new paths for EIBA growth and consolidation.

Rio de Janeiro 2015 – Philippe Gugler, Stefan Schmid and Francesca Sanna-Randaccio