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The IHM Story

At IHM we like to be at the forefront, but first let’s take a quick look back…


During the 1950s and ’60s, Ulf af Trolle was a professor of business administration at the Gothenburg School of Economics. He was an influential visionary and motivator in what was then the new field of marketing.

Trolle claimed that the combination of theory and practice was a necessary prerequisite when developing professional business acumen – his standpoint being that we should place the same professional demands on businessmen and women that we place on doctors, pilots or accountants for example.

For this reason, practitioners in business continuously needed to develop and build their experience using theoretical knowledge in marketing, management, leadership and business economics.

However, mere theoretical study in itself was insufficient if it could not simultaneously be combined with broader experience from real decision-making situations. Conversely, the opposite applies whereby experience in isolation would be inadequate if it could not simultaneously be combined with a broader theoretical knowledge.

Trolle’s theses are still the basis for IHM’s business today. By the late 1960s and in order to live by his own convictions, Ulf af Trolle focused entirely (on his) consultancy (business) where he often found himself helping companies in crisis. It was here that he was given the nickname ‘the company doctor’, and during this period he had a great influence on Swedish industry as well as many well-known business leaders.


One person who worked closely with Professor Ulf af Trolle at the Gothenburg School of Economics was a man called Holger Formgren. During the 1960’s, Holger worked as a researcher and education manager in Distribution Economics at the school. International case studies in business development and marketing not only instilled Holger with knowledge, but also practical experience and inspiration.

So in 1966, Holger committed to leading a joint project for TBV and the Marketing Association in Gothenburg, where his task was to organise and lead evening classes in marketing, in English.

Marketing was still a new subject in Sweden at the time and had not yet been introduced into the academic curriculum. The courses were initially taught at the premises of the School of Economics in Vasagatan, and teachers were recruited from among outstanding students and researchers at the school.

The course literature used was one of Professor Trolle’s standard works entitled Distribution Economics parts I and II, along with the book Marketing Management by Philip Kotler – an American author whose work would go on to revolutionise views on marketing internationally. Philip Kotler and Marketing Management also became the ideological foundation of the curriculum at IHM.


Demand for ‘Advanced courses in Marketing’ was found to be considerable, and in 1968 Holger Formgren took the initiative to form the foundation known as The Institute for Higher Marketing: IHM. Just as it is today, studies took place alongside the student’s work, where meetings and the subsequent exchange of experiences between teachers and students were central to the training, alongside ‘learning by doing’.

With Philip Kotler as a major motivator and source of inspiration, one and two-year programmes were developed and soon became known as ‘Marketing Economist DIHM’ and, similarly to MBA programmes, thesis work was included.

Today, after more than 50 years, thousands of alumni can testify that what is now the Diploma in Business Administration, DIHM qualification remains a much sought-after qualification in the labour market – even given the fact that many of Kotler’s original theses have now been replaced by new ones.


In 1971 IHM dissolved its links with the School of Economics and went its own way. There was nothing wrong with the creativity. Internal company programmes, research services, legal market advice and seminar operations were all offered in quick succession.

At the same time advanced courses in marketing were offered, and later on controller and computer economist programmes were added, along with a course in speed reading and other paths to personal development.

In 1975 IHM began internal corporate programmes through its collaboration with Volvo. And in 1979 IHM started publishing its own textbooks through its own publishing house.


In 1986 IHM changed its name to IHM Business School, a name which more clearly communicated the fact that the offering was no longer restricted to Sweden, marketing and economics. A new IHM building opened in Gothenburg and IHM was established in Stockholm. Moreover, IHM started an IHM copywriting programme and also helped to set up masters programmes at Thammat University in Thailand.

In the 1990s, IHM worked with America’s Johnson & Wales University, the first foreign university to establish itself in Sweden. IHM launched its own management programme, the IHM Executive Programme. Later on, a joint collaboration with Henley University and its MBA programme was initiated.

The DIHM programmes developed and IHM Malmö started up in the fine old Slakthuset abattoir building. IHM Forum – in the mid-1990s, IHM began working with web portals and interactive services for the benefit of students, alumni and personnel alike. Advanced Vocational Education programmes (AVE) also began to be offered.


The range of programmes expanded considerably with new Advanced Vocational Education programmes and the shorter IHM Master programme. In the early 2000s, IHM formed a partnership with China and the well-reputed Tsinghua University, where thousands of people take part in our ‘Trend seminars’ every year.

The entire DIHM programme was gradually renewed and several corporate academies started up, such as ICA Business School, Volvo Cars Business School and Yamaha Academy. In addition, the Advanced Vocational Education programs (AVE) became Higher Vocational Education programs (HVE). The DIHM Diploma in Business Administration was divided into independent certificate programmes and grew in scope.

In 2008, IHM Malmö moved into the city centre and in 2009, IHM Stockholm moved into modern new premises in Kungsholmen.

In 2010, IHM Gothenburg began a modernisation of its flagship IHM building. Interest in social media and the emergence of new business logic began attracting more and more students to lectures and new programmes.

In 2011, IHM launched a brand new Leadership Development program, and in the same year exceeded 30,000 alumni.

2014 saw the launch of short, intensive courses for lifelong learning, with the IHM Digital Marketing programme quickly becoming a success. IHM’s Higher Vocational Education is growing steadily and 93% of students find jobs after graduating.


On 13 June 2018, IHM became the first ever business school in Sweden to offer a private education programme without state regulation, yet still with official bachelors degree status.

The SeQF Level 6 refers to the DIHM Diploma in Business Administration, a degree-level qualification for working executives seeking to distinguish themselves as professional business developers, based on the qualification demands of careers such as Head of Sales/Marketing, Product Owner, Operations Manager, Business Developer with sales, or President/Managing Director/CEO.

This is our story in brief. A story we believe is well worth telling.