A decade ago, a report titled The Global Management Education Landscape: Shaping the Future of Business Schools, authored by the Global Foundation for Management Education, examined the global landscape of management education, highlighting the importance of stakeholder cooperation in shaping the future of the discipline. In particular, the report indicated that “the future will demand much more if business schools are to support regional development goals, increase access to management education, develop more innovative curricula, share in the development of instructional resources, and monitor and project the emerging needs of business organizations.”
In the decade since, a lot has changed in terms of the economic, political, and technological context. However, organizations around the world have yet to adapt to the ensuing change of pace, according to Mercer’s 2017 Global Talent Trends Study. In fact, this study revealed that the vast majority (93%) of organizations worldwide are planning to redesign their structure in the next two years; yet only 4% of surveyed business executives say their organization is “change agile” — an indicator of organizational ability to efficiently and effectively adapt to change.
The study, which gathered insights from over 7,000 professionals from 37 countries and 20 industry sectors, notes that “(a)s the competition for talent continues to rise and business models are disrupted by technology and socio-demographic shifts, organizations are still taking an evolutionary approach to their talent strategies in the face of revolutionary changes.”
CHALLENGES TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT STRATEGIES
Despite the dramatic changes of the past decade and the expected changes within the next, business schools have a responsibility to produce graduates who are capable of making organizations adaptable. At the same time, graduates ought to show the capacity to build a globally connected and locally relevant society. Pankaj Ghemawat and Phillip Bastian assert in (Anti)Globalization and Higher Education that, “(i)n today’s turbulent climate, it’s more crucial than ever for business schools to pursue and promote globalization in their programs.”
This calls for designing and implementing effective global engagement strategies. Gabriel Hawawini, in his article Does Your School Have an International Strategy? argues that international strategy should find a right balance between two key dimensions — “international reach” and “international richness.” International reach, he clarifies, indicates the breadth of international activities an institution’s profile has, while international richness indicates the institution’s diversity of student body and faculty.
However, business schools face many challenges in achieving a strong international strategy, among them the increasing cost of education and declining brand differentiation. On top of this, tightened immigration policies in some regions reduce international students’ chances of being able to stay in the country they studied in and find career opportunities after they graduate. These changes are prompting international students to be more conscious of what their return on investment is in business education. For example, StudyPortals’ data of over 11,000 business and management master’s programs around the world confirms that students are seeking degrees with lower tuition fees far more than those with higher tuition fees. In 2017, the programs with tuition fees lower than US$20,000 had 65% more page views than those whose tuition fees exceeded US$40,000.
COLLABORATION COMPLEMENTS INNOVATION
This is where the core tenets of collaboration and innovation, facilitated through a quality-focused platform like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), become the key differentiators of business schools pursuing impactful and relevant global engagement strategies. Such an association helps students understand that an investment in quality management education delivers a long-term career value.
An AACSB report on The Globalization of Management Education suggests that schools must find ways to complement one another, and that “(s)trategic partnerships have the potential to be a key enabler of efficiencies leading to comparative and competitive advantages for the institutions that engage in them.” These strategic partnerships foster collaboration at many levels, including curricular partnerships with business schools, interdisciplinary partnerships with other university departments, connections with business, engagement with government, and public-private partnerships with third-party providers that support the institution’s initiative.
The tenet of collaboration complements that of innovation. Elizabeth Ziegler, chief innovation officer at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, asserts that enhancing the impact of business education “will require innovation on the part of business schools, along with experimentation and risk-taking.” She adds that innovation in higher education has become a prerequisite for survival.
A COMMON PURPOSE FOR B-SCHOOLS
Innovation is about creating value within constraints. It is about finding the right balance in “the space between academe and practice” and exploring the role of business schools as the centers that facilitate lifelong learning. Likewise, innovation means enrolling students through technology-enabled and data-informed strategies. Finally, innovation is exploring newer academic offerings (e.g. degrees, diplomas, certificates, and micro-credentials) and delivering them through transnational education models to accommodate the global student market (e.g., through joint-degrees, double-degrees, online, and blended).
The next decade will be characterized by intensified competition for talent, resources, and reputation among business schools. However, business schools share the common purpose of developing global managerial talent who can make organizations adaptable to change. To this end, business schools are encouraged to accelerate global engagement strategies on the foundations of collaboration and innovation.
Dr. Rahul Choudaha is executive vice president of global engagement, research, and intelligence at StudyPortals. This article originally appeared on his blog for the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.