The Association of MBAs, a global accreditation organization which marked its 50th year in 2017, has a new sibling. On Monday (January 21), the AMBA announced the launch of a “sister brand,” the Business Graduates Association, whose mission is to promote positive impact and lifelong learning at business schools around the globe.
How does this new body differ from its forerunner? While both the AMBA and the BGA fall within the same organization and are headquartered in the same London office, the AMBA’s focus is on quality enhancement and recognition of MBA programs, while BGA’s focus is on quality improvement of entire business schools, says the CEO of both, Andrew Main Wilson.
“We were originally founded in 1967 as the Business Graduates Association, before rebranding as AMBA — the Association of MBAs, in 1987 — to focus specifically on accrediting the world’s leading MBA and masters in management business school programs, while also providing membership to AMBA schools’ students and graduates,” Wilson says in a news release announcing the formation of the BGA. “Now, in 2019, we are relaunching this powerful heritage brand name, which will stand out in a business education market. Our vision is clear: BGA will champion the crucial importance of lifelong learning, welcoming business schools as members who clearly demonstrate a passion for practical, entrepreneurial business education with a proven commitment to social responsibility and sustainability, across all their program modules.”
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The AMBA is not a familiar player in the United States graduate business education landscape, with only one AMBA-accredited B-school — Hult International Business School — having a significant presence in the U.S. (Hult is based in London but has campuses in New York, San Francisco, and Boston.) But the AMBA can credibly claim to be the “global standard for all MBA, DBA, and master’s degrees,” because outside the U.S., most top schools seek its imprimatur. As Wilson points out, the AMBA is “currently accrediting programs from the top 2% of business schools in over 70 countries” — including all the top European schools: London Business School, HEC Paris, INSEAD, Oxford Säid, IE, IESE, and many others. Other names with the AMBA seal of approval: IPADE in Mexico, HEC Montreal in Canada, Antai College of Economics and Management in Shanghai, China, and IMD in Switzerland; overall, the AMBA accredits more than 250 schools globally, one-third of the prestigious Triple Crown accreditation along with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AASB) and the European Foundation for Management Development Quality Improvement System (EQUIS).
So where does the BGA fit in all this? Wilson says that in the light of the tremendous challenges faced by B-schools, the BGA will play a significant part by providing schools, students, and graduates high-quality guidance for self-improvement and continuous learning. This will come in the form of quality assurance services, as well as consultation and mentorship services to schools to improve their marketing and admissions, program design, alumni interaction, teaching methods, and career development services. The organization also plans to have events for both B-school professionals and students.
“BGA will focus on providing educational membership, validation, and accreditation across the entire program portfolios of high-quality business schools,” Wilson says. “We will also offer free individual BGA membership to the students and alumni of our BGA schools.
“Geographically, we will encourage membership from some of the world’s most sophisticated business schools through to inspirational business schools in some of the world’s poorest countries, who can demonstrate evidence that they are making a real difference to the future of their countries’ economies.”
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In short, Wilson says, the BGA’s lodestar will be “responsible management,” helping B-schools develop leaders who can navigate an ever-evolving landscape of unprecedented disruption, innovation, and new technology with “ethical behavior, self-confidence, and humility, all of which form the foundation of socially conscious and responsible leaders.” Further, BGA has launched quality assurance processes, validation, and accreditation that encourage B-schools to focus on their impact on a range of activities that will aid growth and develop students, faculty, program design — “and ultimately, overall value creation.”
The name of the game: innovation and venturing “beyond conventional means of teaching.” Among the schools that already have signed up for BGA membership are Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, the Rennes School of Business in France, and Aston Business School in Birmingham, UK.
“The complexity of today’s environment demands business schools tackle questions that transcend their traditional profit focus,” says Bodo B. Schlegelmilch, professor of international management and marketing at the Institute of Marketing Management in Vienna, Austria, and chair of the BGA. “What are the characteristics of responsible management practices? Which role can business play in solving pressing social issues? How can business contribute to achieving sustainability? How can entrepreneurship foster the development of communities? And how can managers best be enticed to embrace lifelong learning?
“It is the mission of the Business Graduates Association to encourage business schools and their graduates to go beyond traditional topics and include societal impact metrics in their teaching. I am confident that the BGA can be an important ‘force for good’ and proud and excited about the launch of BGA.”
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