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History of the Centre

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‘The Reading School’ is used, at least within International Business, to denote those sympathetic to a certain set of ideas about the way in which multinational enterprises engage in trade and investment. The first time ‘the Reading School’ was used in this sense was in the exchange between Kojima and a number of others in the Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics (among those that replied to Kojima’s papers were Peter Buckley, Mark Casson, John Dunning. H. Peter Gray, Alan Rugman). The earliest printed reference (we can find) is in Kojima’s 1982 paper where he refers to dissenting views to his work as being by ‘John H. Dunning and his school’. Peter Buckley attributes the first use of the collective noun to Alan Rugman, and although Google is unable to confirm this, it seems very plausible indeed: Alan always had an ear for a catchy phrase, and as was his habit, he would use the new phrase until it caught on.

The idea of the centre started, in spirit, in the 1970s when Professor John Dunning would invite young scholars working at the intersection of firm strategies, foreign direct investment, and trade to collaborate with him. Alan Rugman, Seev Hirsch and Peter Buckley are among the notable names that came to Reading.

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The idea of a centre was finally formalised in 2004 when the Centre for International Business Strategy (CIBS) was set up by Rajneesh Narula and Mark Casson. CIBS was a vibrant research environment and an important means to connect scholars, businesses and policy makers through seminars, visiting programs, courses and a rich collection of working papers. In 2007, the Centre organised the first IB Reading Conference, now at its 8th edition.

In 2009, the name of the centre was changed to The John H Dunning Centre for International Business prior to Professor Dunning’s demise in January 2009. In 2010 the Centre established the Dunning Visiting Fellowship Program which is aimed at creating research opportunities for researchers at the early-to-mid stage of their career.

The Centre has, over the last few years, expanded. In 2023, the name of the centre changes to The Dunning Centre of International Business. We have a Dunning Africa Centre, based in our South Africa Campus, and a global webinar series that is broadcast every month. In addition, we are in the process of creating new collaborations with a variety of other research centres worldwide.