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How B-Schools Are Adapting To A Post-COVID World

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing b-schools to overhaul their curriculum.

Andrew Jack, of Financial Times, recently spoke to b-school experts on how institutions are attempting to stay relevant in a post-COVID world.

DEMONSTRATING RELEVANCE

Now more than ever, experts say b-schools need to convey their relevancy to prospective students.

“The best description of our age even before Covid was uncertainty,” Geoff Garrett, the new dean of the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, tells FT. “Now is a great time for business schools to demonstrate their relevance.”

To demonstrate relevancy some business schools have focused on adding more relevant course material.

Wharton Professor Mauro Guillén, a specialist in international strategy, will be teaching a course this fall on how different companies adapt in times of uncertainty. His case studies include companies like Spotify, which has pivoted its business model during the pandemic by developing its own podcasts.

“Students always want the most up-to-date material. They are expecting us to have material that’s relevant for what’s going on now,” Guillén tells FT. “We cannot teach the same stuff or we would be obsolete.”

Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business recently announced the launch of a new online MS in Business Analytics.

Paul Almeida, dean of McDonough, has made it a priority to focus on what’s next for the MBA education – even long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Back in 2017, Almeida had predicted that b-schools would fall behind if they failed to invest in new technology and new modes of delivery in order to stay relevant.

“We will see more small business schools in trouble,” he told P&Q. “The economics do not favor smaller institutions or institutions outside of large metropolitan centers. Business schools with less resources are going to find it hard to compete in an environment where you have to make investments in technology, in pedagogy, and even more than before, in new ways of learning and better ways of reaching out to organizations for career placements and internships.”

NEW SOCIETAL DEMANDS ON BUSINESS

Experts highlight a fundamental shift in business from a focus on shareholder return to broader responsibilities such as climate change and diversity – a shift that, according to Dezsö Horváth, dean of the Schulich School of Business in York, Canada, has well been underway since the 2008 financial crisis.

“We’re going to have a very different world which is much more focused on tolerance and on life, not just work and money,” he tells FT.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized this shift once again. And experts say there are new demands of how businesses operate within society.

“We will move to a new economic model in which business and society are more open to trade-offs between efficiency and resilience,” Paolo Surico, a professor at London Business School, tells FT. “Businesses will have a formidable challenge in changing their model to understand consumer demand and the new role of government with a bit less capitalism and a bit more state economy.”

If anything, this shift in business is forcing b-schools to reevaluate their curricula to ensure that what they’re teaching students is relevant for today and tomorrow.

“It has put the restructuring of supply chains, remote work and e-commerce on steroids,” Wharton Professor Guillén tells FT. “I don’t agree the world will be 100 percent different but we will have to run much faster because those trends will be so accelerated.”

Sources: Financial Times, P&Q, P&Q

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