On October 1, 1923, the School of Business, Economics and Law opened its doors to the eleven students in the first cohort. In 2023, we celebrate the School's centenary and look both back and forward.
A century of scientific curiosity
The School of Business, Economics and Law has always been a meeting place for new ideas. Ever since the School was founded in 1923, we have provided research and education of the highest quality, contributing to Gothenburg’s development from a city of trade to a city of knowledge and innovation. Since 2016, the School holds the prestigious Triple Crown accreditation, proof that we belong to the top tier of business schools in the world.
The School's first dean was the geographer and polar explorer Otto Nordenskjöld, known for his pioneering expeditions to Antarctica. Since then, curiosity about the world and societal engagement have permeated our work. Like Nordenskjöld we are constantly looking for new challenges and new knowledge relevant for the development of society.
We are now celebrating 100 years of cutting-edge research and education in an international perspective. By educating independent thinking students, who go on to leading positions, knowledge developed here in Gothenburg is spread into the world, contributing to the development of society and business towards a more sustainable world, even in the 100 years to come.
Would you like invitations to our open events?
The School's open events are advertised on our website and usually on our social media channels. If you want to receive invitations to your email, you can register your address here.
Programme for the centennial
The centennial will be celebrated throughout 2023. The programme is continuously updated. Welcome!
2 February - centennial cake for students and staff
See film from the celebrations here.
3 February - Changing conditions for international trade
Open seminar with Cecilia Malmström, Anders Ahnlid, Petros C. Mavroidis and Per Cramér
9 February - Joakim Dungel Lecture: Nuclear weapons: legality and diplomacy
8 March - 100 years of solitude: Gender and equality at the School of Business, Economics and Law
14 March - Inauguration of Centre for Health Governance
17-18 April - The rule of law in the EU: Crisis and solutions
For invited guests.
22 April - Homecoming
We welcomed our alumni (former students) back to the School. Afternoon programme on sustainability was followed by dinner and party. Read more about the School's alumni activities and how to register in the database.
5 May- Kurt Grönfors Seminar
Theme: (in Swedish) Att nå minusutsläpp genom koldioxidinfångning från biomassa
9 May - Sven-Olof Bodenfors Seminar
Theme: (in Swedish) Ett samtal om att bygga laget
11 May - Tore Browaldh Lecture
Subject: The Future of Globalization: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Speaker: Professor Dani Rodrik, Harvard University
13 May - Göteborgsvarvet
Support Team Handelshögskolan!
20 May - participation in "Hembygdens Day" (day of native place)
Researchers in economic history show their books
31 May - Minister of Finance Elisabeth Svantesson visits the School
Theme: (in Swedish) Finanspolitik i ett svårt ekonomiskt läge
20 June - Book release (in Swedish)
Titel: En samhällsvetenskaplig introduktion till bitcoin och kryptovalutor. Redaktörer: Oskar Broberg och Viktor Elliot
August - Welcoming of new students
Welcoming activities with a centennial touch for new students, arranged by the Student Union
August/September - The School at Liseberg
Event for the School's students at Liseberg amusement park
September - Staden och företaget – så är Handels med och säkrar framtidens jobb
(In Swedish) Pandeldiskussion arrangerad av den fristående alumnföreningen HHGA (Handelshögskolans i Göteborg Alumniförening, HHGA)
7 September - City walk (In Swedish)
Guided walk on the economic history of Gothenburg. From Handelshögskolan to Gustav Adolf's square.
30 September - Centennial Party
For staff and invited guests.
October - Felix Neubergh Lecture
14 November - Prins Bertil Seminar
6 December - Centennial seminar
Theme: The Arctic – threats and opportunities in a geopolitical future
The seminar will be held in Swedish.
13 December - St Lucia Celebration in the Haga Church
For students and staff
The city of trade and merchants gets a business school
Industrialisation and the rapid development of trade during the second half of the 19th century brought about a need for better language skills, more advanced economics, and a more theoretically-oriented higher education. Therefore, in 1923, the City of Gothenburg, which was a centre for trade and merchants, got a business school. The famous polar explorer and geographer Otto Nordenskjöld was appointed as the first dean of the school. The first cohort consisted of eleven students who were taught economics, statistics, business administration, law, economic geography, and modern languages (English, French and German and soon thereafter Russian and Spanish).
During the 1920s, the operations gradually expanded, in step with the development of business. In 1925, the School moved into "Gamla Handels" on Läroverksgatan. This two-year programme cost SEK 200 per semester. In 1926, the Student Union HHGS was formed.
During this first decade, the School of Business, Economics and Law formed its identity: an offering of a wide breadth of subjects, internationalisation, cooperation with business and society, and a close connection between research and education.
The description of the various decades in the history of the School are largely taken from Lage Rosengren's book"Handelshögskolan vid Göteborgs universitet - en historik" from 2011.
The education becomes three years
The 1930s were a revolutionary time in the world, but at the School it was a relatively quiet decade. The operations continued to expand. Admission was unrestricted, but to be eligible to apply a matriculation degree or the equivalent was required. The training was popular and there was a risk that a continued increase in students would deteriorate the quality. Moreover, the School already lacked the rooms for all the seminars it offered. In the autumn of 1936, 120 students had applied, but the teachers’ council considered that a reasonable limit for admission was 55 students. In 1939, the education became a three-year programme.
The term "civilian economist" was introduced
The decade was marked by World War II and the post-war economy. Maritime and transport issues received more focus. At the diploma ceremony in May 1943, the term "civil economist" (civilekonom) was used for the first time to describe the graduates’ education.
The School had been crowded from the start. Over the years, the school had to secure better facilities and at one time the school used five locations for teaching. The School wanted a building of their own and worked intensively to arouse the interest of those in power to find a solution where the School could be gathered under one roof. Various alternatives were investigated. In 1945, an application was made to use the plot at Vasagatan 3/Haga Kyrkogata 1. By then, the first donations for the building had already been secured. In 1947, over SEK 2 million had been collected. An architectural competition was announced and the winning proposal, Pagina, was designed by Carl Nyrén.
Moving in on Vasagatan
In 1952, the new house on Vasagatan was ready and inaugurated by Prince Bertil.
The School’s first doctoral dissertation was defended on 11 November 1950, when Nils Västhagen defended his thesis – Income and expenditure concepts in administration accounting and business accounting.
In 1952, Ulf av Trolle, later known as the "Doctor of Business", came to the School as a professor of business administration, especially distribution economics. He was also the Dean of the School between 1959 and 1962.
The School becomes state funded
In 1961, the School became state funded. Financial resources increased (which was much needed) and more students were admitted, but at the same time student mobility decreased.
The 1960s was characterised by a large influx of students to universities. Parallel to the School, several departments at the University of Gothenburg offered the same subjects as the School, and it was possible to study business and economics at both the University of Gothenburg and the School. At the University of Gothenburg, admission was unrestricted (everyone who applied was admitted); however, at the School, admission was restricted. In 1969, the barriers to the School’s education were removed and the students poured in. Large facilities such as cinemas had to be rented for large lectures, which sometimes had up to 1000 students present. The teaching situation was not good and the pedagogy was affected by the large number of students. The already neglected research in business economics became even more neglected.
Do you have photos from the 1960's to share with us?
The School becomes part of the university
In 1971, the School was integrated into the University of Gothenburg. The Departments of Business Administration, Economics and Economic Geography merged with their university counterparts (Economic Geography became part of the Department of Human Geography). Jurisprudence only existed at the School, so that department continued intact as part of the university. The term "Handelshögskolan i Göteborg" was formally retired. Despite this, the 1970s was a decade when the School experienced significant changes.
In 1973, the international business and economics programme, "Line 19", was established, which came to play an important role for the School’s identity. In 1977, the Corporate and Administrative Law programme (FFJ) was established, which later was developed into a Master of Laws programme. This was also the decade when the Executive MBA programme started.
When the School ceased to exist, the Student Union was reorganised. The students now belonged to the Faculty of Philosophy's Student Union (FFS). The assets of School’s Student Union were transferred to the voluntary student association Göteborgs ekonomistudarendes förening (Götekon).
Do you have photos from the 1970's to share with us?
The School is resurrected
During the late 1970s, criticism of business education in Sweden increased. The graduates’ knowledge did not fully correspond to the needs of the business world or the public sector. In Gothenburg, the business community wanted to strengthen the quality of education, so it contributed to the re-establishment of the School.
In 1986, the School of Business, Economics and Law was resurrected within the Faculty of Social Sciences. Five departments were included: business administration, economics, human geography, law and statistics.
In 1983, the Richard C. Malmsten Memorial Foundation was established, which has annually supported the School with large grants for both research and education. The foundation also played a decisive role in the construction of the new building on Vasagatan, which was built in the 1990s.
In 1983, Reväst was formed to promote regional development in Western Sweden. Reväst is collaborative platform that facilitates the exchange of knowledge among the public sector, academia and business.
Do you have photos from the 1980's to share with us?
Moving into the new building
The 1990s was an eventful decade for the School. In 1990, the Department of Economic History became part of the School. In 1991, a full Masters of Law programme was established. The entry into the EU in 1995 gave international student exchange a boost with the Erasmus programs. In 1997, the Graduate Business School started and the English language master’s programmes attracted a large number of international students. In addition, 1997 was the year that the School became its own faculty within the university, which meant that the process of recreating the School of Business, Economics and Law was complete.
The School was once again overcrowded. The building from 1952 was designed for 700 students and the School now had around 4000. An architectural competition was announced and the new building was designed by Erséus, Frenning and Sjögren Architects. The cost of the building project was approximately SEK 300 million, and the School needed to fundraise half of this for the project to be implemented. Through generous donations, of which SEK 120 million came from the Richard C. Malmsten Memorial Foundation, the building could be realised, and in 1995 the alumnus Percy Barnevik inaugurated the new building.
In 1997, a PhD programme in Environment & Development Economics was introduced, financed by Sida. In 1999, the School’s Partner Programme began accepting students.
In 1990, the students at the School once again formed their own student union and took back the old name, HHGS.
The first international accreditation
During the 2000s, the School experienced many changes that continue to be significant. The work with quality development through international accreditations began, and in 2004 the School received its first EQUIS accreditation.
The internationalisation of the operations continued, among other things through the new international Visiting Professor Programme, which was created through support from businesses and foundations. The education was adapted to the international Bologna model, with a three-year bachelor's level programme followed by a two-year master’s level programme.
During this decade, strong research environments in environmental economics, logistics and accounting were developed.
In 2001, the School’s sustainability profile was strengthened with the new Environmental Social Science programme (SMIL), which was the first of its kind in Sweden.
First in Sweden with "Triple Crown" accreditation
During the 2010s, the School’s international quality was strengthened. The EQUIS accreditation was supplemented by AMBA accreditation in 2013 and AACSB accreditation in 2016, making the School the first "Triple Crown" accredited institution in Sweden.
Research activities continued to be developed, including challenge-driven research with an increased focus on sustainability issues. The link between education and research was becoming stronger.
The work with sustainability continued to be developed. In 2010, the School became a member of the UN-supported initiative Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME). In 2012, sustainability perspectives were integrated into all education programmes at the bachelor’s level and three mandatory sustainability days became part of the programmes’ curricula. During this decade, the School’s Council for Sustainable Development (HRHU) and the student association Handels Students for Sustainability (HaSS) were formed. Environment for Development, which was started in 2007, became a unit within the School. The School has a leading role in the international work with the UN’s Sustainability Goal 8, which is coordinated by the University of Gothenburg.
The student exchange became global with new agreements in North America, Australia, China, India and Africa. Al Gore, former Vice President of the USA, visited the School.
Quality and relevance
The 2020s had barely begun when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The School quickly switched to digital operations, and this was the norm for two years. Losing the social context meant losing much of what makes the School what it is, not the least for the students. However, digitisation also meant new skills were developed that are valuable in today’s business climate.
The School has adopted a new strategy for the period 2021–2026: "Independent thinking for a sustainable world". This concept raises the bar and emphasises quality and relevance.
In 2022, the School decided to start a bachelor’s programme in business and economics, which will be conducted entirely in English. The first students will start in autumn 2023.
Celebrate the centenary with a donation
For a hundred years, the School of Business, Economics and Law has been a place for scientific curiosity, internationalization and collaboration with business and society. Now we contribute to a sustainable world through our research and through the students we educate and train in independent and critical thinking. By donating a birthday gift, you contribute to the School's development.