Time has come to leave the eternal summer of Arizona to get back to Paris (after a short stay in NY) and meet my new students. Being hosted at the ASU has been a great professional experience and I got to learn better the American academic world.
I didn’t have the occasion to teach and thus to know more about one of the things the ASU is known for, a community of around 90.000 students. However, I got to meet the colleagues of the School of Public Affaires and particularly the scholars of the Center for Organizational Design and Research. Many of the world’s finest scientists are at the ASU and I met some of them. I had a passionate discussion around my earliest work (hard critiques included) and I discovered new paths, fields and possibilities for my research (still under development…). I was mostly impressed, however, by the spirit and curiosity of most scholars I’ve been able to meet here.
I also had the occasion to witness the broad expansion of the ASU at the stage of its maturity. As I’ve came to know, under the leadership of Michael Crow, presiding the university for over than fifteen years, the ASU was transformed, being the embodiment of what Crow envisioned as the “New American University”. I wouldn’t be in position to discuss this approach and compare it with what I’ve seen during my short visit here. Still, I saw some things that are impressive: the facilities of the School, the scaling of the administration, the great degree of personalization of all kinds of services.
Was there something missing ? Not that I know of. In fact, facing the unknown is one of the major challenges organizations may meet, especially today. To this regard, I think that the ASU is quite helped by the Western culture. Everything that can be done is done – at least that’s the impression I got. And that’s not evident everywhere either. Then, there’s a sort of trust in people which is less dependent on the attachment to the hierarchy and more based on talent.
As a friend told me, in the US you can find the best and the worst. I’m glad that I only got to know the former.