Kevin Barham is former Director of the Ashridge Centre for Management and Organization Learning and a founding partner of the Global Development Partnership. His research has focused on the development of leaders for global business — an issue which is a major priority for ABB. ABB has itself participated in Kevin's previous research in this critical area. An early oppotunity to get an inside view of ABB's 'action recipe' (to use Finnish researcher Rolf Leppänen's phrase) came when ABB participated during 1990-91 in an Ashridge research project studying the competences of successful managers. This research provided an early opportunity to learn from the inside about the early challenges that the company faced in restructuring its operations, integrating its many new acquisitions in different countries, introducing its global matrix and securing cross-border cooperation among previously independent national companies.
ABB has led the way for Western firms interested in the emerging economies of Central and Eastern Europe. Kevin had a further opportunity to learn about ABB from the inside and about the challenges it faces in these regions, when, in 1994, he researched and wrote a case study about ABB Elta, a power transformer and electrical equipment plant that ABB had acquired in Poland some two years earlier, and where the ABB turnaround process was in full swing.