Dr. Davide Sola is Associate Professor of Strategy and former Director of ESCP Europe London campus. His teaching is in the organisational and strategy area; in particular he teaches business strategy, change management and organisational design to both graduate and post-graduate courses.
Born in Italy Dr. Sola is a graduate of ESCP Europe and University of Turin (1998). He holds a Master’s in European Management, the Diplom Kaufmann, the Diplôme des Grandes Ecoles and the Laurea in Economia from Universita’ di Torino. He earned his doctorate in Enterprise Economics from the University of Torino with a thesis on "Organisational transformation".
Following graduation he became involved in several technology Start-ups, first in Oxford through the Oxford Centre for Innovation, then in London under the umbrella of a number of venture capital and private equity firms. Subsequently he moved to join the Hartley Investment Trust, a private equity firm based in London specialised in corporate restructuring and investment in fast growing organisations; there he worked as Head of New Ventures.
In 2003 Professor Sola returned to Italy to join McKinsey & Co. where he held the position of Engagement Manager in charge of several projects ranging from post-merger integration to turnaround of state-owned companies. Also in 2003, Dr. Sola was part of a team headed by Dr. Quaglia responsible for setting up the fifth ESCP Europe campus, in Torino, Italy. Professor Sola holds the position of Vice-President of the Board of the school’s Italian campus. Early in 2007, after a sabbatical year away from McKinsey & Co. and spent at the London Campus, he joined ESCP Europe as a permanent member of faculty.
Dr. Sola’s research interests are in corporate transformation, strategic renewal, entrepreneurship and applied enterprise economics (in particular the application of Austrian principles in the corporate world). He is author of articles, policy papers, book chapters, case studies and papers presented at international research conferences (Academy of Management, SMS, EIASM, etc.).
Corporate mindset as an underlying key performance driver
Creating and sustaining a competitive advantage is the core of strategic management. Organisations willing to build and sustain their competitive advantage in a way that is not easily eroded by environmental forces, must focus on building organisational capabilities that are valuable, rare, and not easily imitable by competitors. Dr Sola is investigating if the “organisational mindset” can be a source that allows organisations to over perform their peers. In particular he is trying to demonstrate that organisations who over perform their peers have among their distinctive traits the following characteristics: focus on execution, solidarity, strong alignment, pervasive communication and active leadership.
Transformation in action
In a corporate environment that is constantly “shocked” by internal and external forces, transformation, defined as the identification and implementation of radical changes, is not anymore a once in a lifetime event, but rather a “must have” capability for survival. Dr. Sola’s research looks at identifying the underlying methods and processes that could be leveraged to make this incredibly difficult transition more manageable. In particular, via the technique of participative observation coupled with historic analysis, he is trying to verify the hypothesis that there are two categories of elements that facilitate a transformation: cores and boosters. The cores being the ones driving the transformation (a compelling story and the role models), without which a transformation will not take place, along with the boosters (enablers, capability building, reinforcing mechanism and change of context), being the elements that if present will increase the speed of the transformation required.
How to unleash the power of free-markets economic principles within the corporate world
In today’s environment executives of major corporations are increasingly struggling to coordinate knowledge and decision of tens of thousands of employees dispersed in different business units across endless global locations. Traditionally the solution to such coordination problem was found to be the hiring of “better brains” at the top of the organisation. These “experts” through the development of very sophisticated central systems of monitoring and control would be able to coordinate and direct all major decision within the firm. Unfortunately, such approaches have failed time and time again, not because of the “error/mistake” of the experts, but simply because such approaches overlook a fundamental reality: the knowledge needed for sensible business decisions are inherently dispersed among many people, and much of it cannot be communicated to a central location for use by the “experts”. Leveraging the knowledge and insights of the Austrian School of Economics (Hayek, Mises & others), Dr Sola is investigating the application of the principles of free-markets within the corporate world. In particular he is looking at the identification of which principles can be applied in the corporate world as well as at the necessary platforms needed to be implemented for a successful deployment of such principles. He is currently working with Koch Industries (the biggest private company in the world), one of the few firm that has made explicit use of the free-markets principles within its organisation.