Sustainability Will Be The Focus Of The Future, B-School Decision Makers Say

There’s more evidence — if any were needed — that “business as a force for good” is increasingly the prevailing ethos of B-schools around the world.

New research from the Association of MBAs and Business Graduates Association shows that helping businesses be more sustainable will be the main priority for business school decision makers over the next five years. Considering the wider business environment, 71% of B-school decision makers surveyed agreed that the ability of companies to innovate was an important priority for the next five years — with large majorities also believing that schools must embrace cleaner and more environmentally friendly technology (67%), and that big data and analytics (61%) and how companies adapt to digital technology (59%) will be major prerogatives.

“It is clear that business school decision makers see technology and transformation as being major forces influencing business in the next few years,” says Will Dawes, research manager at AMBA & BGA. “This chimes with the innovation challenges these leaders foresee for their own business schools, namely business sustainability and program delivery.”


The AMBA is an international accrediting body which, along with the Graduate Management Admission Council and The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, comprises the triad of most-sought-after accreditations for every business school.  Almost all of the AMBA’s member schools are outside the United States. The BGA, an international membership and accreditation body of B-schools that “share a commitment for responsible management practices and lifelong learning,” was launched as a “sister brand” to AMBA in January of this year. (The launch was timed with the release of survey findings that show strong support among MBA students and recent graduates for business schools to work to solve social ills.)

The latest research, published at AMBA & BGA’s Global Conference May 13-15 in Istanbul, Turkey, shows that nearly a quarter (23%) of the 151 deans and B-school decision makers polled by AMBA & BGA cited organizational development as a priority for businesses over the next five years, while only a fifth (20%) said the marketing of new products, services, and ideas is likely to be high on the corporate agenda in the near term.

Asked about the issues that would be most important for their own organizations, the top priority for the business education community — cited by 76% of business school decision makers surveyed — was the impact B-schools have on how businesses work in a sustainable way. Next in importance were innovation in program delivery (70%) and quality of teaching (64%).

This follows a December survey by AMBA that reported that 67% of MBAs themselves expect the degree to have a positive impact on their ability to “help those in society most in need.”


However, fewer than three in 10 respondents (29%) said their school’s ranking in key publications would be an important issue for them over the coming five years, and a similar proportion (31%) cited graduate salaries as a key priority. The survey also revealed that less than a third (32%) were concerned about ensuring that high-quality candidates apply for their programs.

Contrast that with strong support for B-schools to invest in digital tech, quality teachers, and innovation.

“Many of the prevalent themes highlighted, such as cybersecurity and big data, are relatively new concepts,” Dawes says, “but are now very much in the consciousness of business school leaders. This should not necessarily diminish the importance of other issues raised, such as equal opportunities and recruitment, which while not being at the forefront of minds, are still regularly cited.”

See the next page for the complete list of B-school priorities cited in the AMBA research.

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