The implementation of the Bologna process needs political leadership and determination. The style of leadership required for multilateral initiatives, such as this one, was exemplified in Jean Monnet (1888-1979), considered as one of the fathers of the European Union (EU). It is a leadership model that may inspire other multinational projects where the interests of many different parties, each with its own agenda, have to be combined to produce a win-win situation.
Mark Leonard, Director of Foreign Policy at the London-based Centre for European Reform, refers to Jean Monnet, in his book “Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century”, as the model of leadership to imitate in multinational institutions. Monnet had a very different profile to that of war heroes such as Churchill or De Gaulle and could have almost been described as a civil servant due to the low profile he tended to keep on the political scene. He was intelligent, a great team builder, a tireless worker and a consensus maker. However, with his distinctive style of leadership, he played a decisive role in the construction of the EU. The great insight of Monnet was to understand that a diverse community of nations, with both common and divergent interests, could not be accomplished in just one go according to a general plan, but rather through consecutive and concrete achievements that could create a solidarity among the members. Paradoxically, his vision was to avoid a great vision. Pragmatism and gradual change were the key elements for the success of the project, implying iterative stages of integration and cooperation until the creation of the admirable EU of today.
We need a similar approach and leadership style in the implementation of the Bologna process, where initiative is delegated to the member countries with the participation of a wide panoply of stakeholders: representatives from universities, quality-assessment agencies, teachers, students, employers and administrations, amongst others. Given the need of several Monnets to orchestrate the implementation of Bologna, I took the opportunity of a recent visit of Klaus Schwab to Instituto de Empresa (IE) to suggest to him that at the next Davos summit he should organise a panel to discuss Bologna Process issues.