The B-School Olympics

Photograph by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

This summer’s Olympic Games in London is providing business schools in the U.K. with a unique opportunity to have a front seat at the world’s biggest sporting event. With more than 500,000 visitors and 14,000 athletes from 205 Olympic teams descending upon the U.K. in July, the economics and business side of the games has proved irresistible for many of the country’s top business schools.

Professors and students have done research papers on everything from the games’ logistics to “ambush marketing.” Students also are playing their part, whether volunteering, interning with companies associated with the games or, in a few instances, competing in the events. Here’s a look at how seven business schools, including one in the U.S., are getting into the Olympic spirit.

Ashridge Business School

Ashridge Business School has been working with dozens of top U.K. coaches from the 39 Olympic sports during the last few years, helping them learn how to apply some of the lessons from the business world to the playing field, the school says. Ashridge’s executive education program, endorsed by the British Olympics Association, strengthens the coaches’ management and leadership skills.

London Business School

• Marco Bertini, an assistant professor of marketing at London Business School, did a research paper that looked at what marketers are doing to get people to attend the games in London and to ensure the games are profitable. He also wrote a case study on the 2012 London Olympics with Harvard Business School’s John Gourville, examining how the games’ head of ticketing determined final ticket prices for the events.

• Goran Nava, a graduate student at London Business School and a Serbian middle-distance runner who participated in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, is waiting to hear if he qualifies for this summer’s 1,500-meter dash, according to the school.

Coventry Business School

• The 2012 Olympics football tournament will be held at six venues across the U.K., including the City of Coventry Stadium, located in the country’s West Midlands. Students and faculty from Coventry Business School are taking advantage of their prime location close to the games, setting up an “ambush marketing observatory” at the school this summer to observe nonaffiliated Olympics marketing efforts. A group of master’s students will be monitoring and reporting cases of ambush marketing and trademark infringement, says Simon Chadwick, a professor of sports business at the school.

University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School

• Julian Samuelson, an EMBA student at Judge Business School, will be serving as the head equine veterinarian for the Olympics. He’ll be overseeing the care of the 200 horses that will be participating in this summer’s games in south London’s Greenwich Park, the school says.

University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School

• Researchers at Saïd Business School are finalizing new research that looks at Olympic budgets of the past 50 years, including the spending plan for the London games. Preliminary data show the games are always over budget, with cost overruns often extreme, the school says.

• Vivian Giroldo, a member of the school’s catering team, will be an Olympic torchbearer, helping carry it from Worcester, England, to Cardiff, Wales, on May 25.

• Three Saïd alums plan to participate in the Olympic’s rowing events. Americans Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, twin brothers who fought Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard over the founding of Facebook and later got their MBAs from Saïd, are planning to compete with the U.S. team in the Olympic men’s pair rowing event. Tom Solesbury, another Saïd alum, expects to compete as a rower on the U.K. team.

Cranfield University’s School of Management

• Andrew Palmer, a visiting fellow at Cranfield’s School of Management, conducted a study commissioned by Transport for London, the group responsible for transport for the games, that examined the Olympics’ impact on freight deliveries.

• Over the past ten months, Cranfield professors Liz Lee Kelley and Neil Turner have been advising  Transport for London and BT, the Olympic games’ technology partner.

Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business

• Twenty students from the Robinson College of Business’s hospitality program will be interning at the Olympics this summer with Coca-Cola, a worldwide corporate partner of the games.

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