Annual EBHS Conference, 39th Annual Economic and Business History Society Conference

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Planning with the Future in ‘Site’: Debates over the Location and Student Accommodation Requirements of the London Business School, 1964-1966
Mitchell J. Larson

Last modified: 2014-03-10


In early 1960s Britain a group of businessmen advocated for a university management institute like those in the United States. Demand for greater access to universities was growing rapidly; in 1963 the Conservative Macmillan Government accepted the majority of the recommendations of Lord Lionel Robbins’ Committee on Higher Education, which resulted in a large-scale expansion of higher education provision in the United Kingdom. The Robbins Committee endorsed business management training within universities, but this received a lukewarm reception among university academics as well as among the civil servants who administered university funding during this period. The University Grants Committee within the Treasury, still reeling from cost overruns incurred on behalf of Imperial College in Kensington, was charged with controlling the enormous public spending likely to result from the Robbins expansion and looked for ways to economize wherever possible; it examined especially closely plans it believed derived from specific interest groups. The business school movement arose parallel to these macro-environmental developments and provides a case in point. This research explores the selection of a location for the London Business School and the tension between interested parties with regard to the location and character of its permanent accommodations. Borrowing and adapting the concept of the “expectation gap” from the accounting profession, the study explores and illustrates a small selection of these tensions between the businessmen who promoted the business school movement, who had a specific educational experience in mind for future management students, and the government officials and institutions called upon to provide that education.