B-Schools Predict What 2020 Has In Store

Duke Fuqua Dean Bill Boulding. File photo

Last year, Duke University Fuqua School of Business Dean William Boulding predicted that even as the end neared for about a decade of global economic growth, some great things would occur in 2019: namely, that B-school would have increased impact on the tech sector, helping to direct and manage a new era of tech innovation thanks to learning a melange of “deep technical competencies alongside leadership and communication skills.” In 2020, Boulding tells P&Q, that phenomenon will expand, with the MBAs produced by leading schools guiding and leading transformational change.

“Business education will become even more relevant as a consequence of technology-driven transformation,” Boulding says. “People typically associate degrees like engineering and computer science with technology. However, we are starting to witness an appreciation for the importance of business education in managing and leading tech innovation. When I visit places like Silicon Valley, I’m often told that the limiting factor on innovation is leadership, not technology itself.

“Business schools have responded with a proliferation of programs in data analytics. I find that encouraging, as it is important we train leaders to understand data and technology while also building leadership skills.  The role of human judgment is essential to tech transformation for the good of society. We need people who can not only innovate, but also care about the human implications of innovation and possible unintended consequences when moving technology, companies and the world forward.”

Boulding’s other prediction for 2020 is about the bigger picture.

“Business,” he says, “will continue to be the model of how to create common purpose in a divided world. Business continues to be the institution in society in which very different people come together to work toward a shared vision. The very best business leaders realize that difference is a benefit and actively find ways to make sure diversity is appreciated and leveraged to achieve a goal. We need that type of leadership more than ever during such polarized times.”


Sarah Soule. Stanford photo

Sarah A. Soule, senior associate dean for academic affairs at Stanford Graduate School of Business, says 2020 will see a greater movement — in B-schools and in the business world — toward transparency in efforts in improve inclusion and diversity in leadership. In so doing, she says, B-schools will do their part to effect positive change on a global scale.

“As we enter 2020, I predict that we’ll see greater transparency in higher education around effort and progress in diversity, equity and inclusion,” Soule tells P&Q. “We’ve reached a critical point in business leadership. Among Fortune 500 CEOs, just 6.6% are women and less than 1% are African-American. We also see stark disparities among managing partners at consulting firms, leading investors, VC-backed entrepreneurs, chairs of corporate boards, and senior faculty at U.S. business schools.

“Creating diverse and inclusive leadership requires ongoing commitment and effort from business schools, and I believe that greater transparency provides the social accountability necessary to motivate change. This was the driving force behind the release of Stanford Graduate School of Business’ first DEI report, a tool we will use each year to hold ourselves accountable, track progress, and amplify impact by sharing ideas that can effect broader change on a global scale. While there is still much work to do, I’m encouraged by our roadmap for how we will continue to work alongside our many committed stakeholders toward achieving an inclusive campus that honors our diverse and global community.

“It’s exciting to see a growing commitment to DEI among management education institutions, and I invite my colleagues at schools around the world to join our movement and partner in this effort in 2020 to supporter greater inclusivity throughout every level of business.


Linda Darragh. Kellogg photo

Linda Darragh, the Larry Levy executive director of the Kellogg Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative and a clinical professor of entrepreneurial practice at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, predicts that 2020 will see a surge in early-stage investment in emerging markets. “According to a recent report, emerging markets account for 75% of the world’s Internet users and 78% of Internet IPO proceeds in 2018,” Darragh tells P&Q. “Yet, less than 1% of the venture capital around the world is invested in early-stage ventures in emerging markets (outside of China). Venture investing, which has been a core driver of entrepreneurship in the U.S., is now propelling growth globally.”

How does this impact business schools?

“No longer is a global focus a ‘nice to have’ — it is mandatory,” Darragh says. “We need to understand economic, social and environmental challenges in different regions and work together to build businesses that will have a positive impact on the world. We must also help students understand cultural diversity so they are equipped to work collaboratively in different cultures.

“Supporting this trend, Kellogg students have been eager to absorb global business lessons — 40% percent of students participate in at least two global activities while at Kellogg. As an example, Kellogg’s Global Initiatives in Management course, which I’ve taught the last few years, allows students to experience the business practice of different countries and regions. Just last year, students traveled to Mexico City to learn about the entrepreneurial ecosystem, interviewing entrepreneurs, investors, educators, and tech hub operators, as well as meeting leaders in Mexican government and finance.

“It’s experiences like this that prove innovation and investment is everywhere, and business schools offer a unique setting for immersive global experiences.”


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