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When the school contributed to the creation of the first Italian business school!

Today, ESCP Europe trains business entrepreneurs, but even back in the 19th century, some of its students had already adopted entrepreneurship in a very new field: business teaching! Jean-Joseph Garnier was one of the school’s first teaching entrepreneurs.

His life, his beginnings

He was born in Beuil in 1816, and came from Nice, like Adolphe Blanqui. When he headed for Paris in 1834, he introduced himself to the Dean of ESCP as a native of Nice and benefited from the support of his brother Joseph Garnier, an ESCP alumnus (class of 1832) who had become the school’s director of studies and subsequently a professor after graduating. Jean-Joseph was admitted to the school in 1834.

He followed the three years of tuition at a time when the school was struggling to recover from the 1830 political revolution. The latter had indeed led to disaffection among the students but also among the professors who had left the agitation of Paris. At the time, ESCP had only around thirty students, which was four times less than at the beginning of the 1820s.

1837: His graduation

Jean-Joseph graduated in 1837 and returned to his native region where, after working as a trader, he opened the first business school in the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia in 1850: the École Spéciale de Commerce in Nice.

Jean-Joseph asked Adolphe Blanqui to run the school, but in vain, so he became dean himself. The situation within the school and the political context (the annexation of Nice to France in 1860) led to the school’s closure in the late 1850s. However, Jean-Joseph did not give up on his teaching ideal and opened one of the first business schools in the new Kingdom of Italy in 1860: the Turin Business School.

The latter remained open for a remarkably long time for the period. Despite the growing number of rival schools in Venice (1868), Bari (1874) and Genoa (1886), it survived until the beginning of the 1900s. Jean-Joseph ran the school until he died in the 1890s. In line with the international and cosmopolitan ideal which had been a driving force throughout his life, he worked openly with other business schools, setting up exchanges of correspondence between his school’s students and the students of the École Supérieure de Commerce in Paris (for foreign language learning) but also with the students from the Venice Business School, where he was a lecturer himself.

His death

When he died, the school in Turin did not cease to exist but was transferred to one of his heirs who ran it until the beginning of the 1900s when it did eventually disappear under circumstances which still remain unknown today. Over a century before the opening of the Turin Campus in 2005, ESCP Europe had already woven historical ties with the region; proving that the school’s European focus is much older than it seems at first glance!

Credit: © Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon