Ten Years Later: A Global Network Links Far-Flung B-Schools On Five Continents

Deans and directors of business schools from around the world convened on IMD’s campus in Lausanne, Switzerland, last month to assess the progress of the Global Network For Advanced Management  Photo by John A. Byrne

The past ten years have not been kind to advocates of globalization. With global supply chains severely disrupted, nationalist governments emerging in many countries, Brexit, and another round of COVID-19 lockdowns in China, the forces that led to a global economy seem more fragile than ever.  In this environment, a Yale School of Management course created by David Bach called “The End Of Globalization?” won an Ideas Worth Teaching award from the Aspen Institute.

Yet, as a unique network of global business schools celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, there is plenty of reason to believe in the value of global integration.

What began a decade ago as an idea in the head of the then dean of the Yale School of Management has blossomed into a highly successful collaborative network of business schools across five continents in the far-flung reaches of the world. In a strategy to make Yale SOM the most global U.S. business school, former Yale Dean Edward ‘Ted’ Snyder dreamed up what would become the Global Network For Advanced Management.

More than 13,000 students have participated in a global immersion at a global network school

Departing Yale SOM Dean Edward Snyder

Departing Yale SOM Dean Edward Snyder

The idea was to recruit business schools from all over the world who would work together to create educational programming and global experiences for students at the network schools. Initially, Snyder was able to persuade 16 schools to join the network, smartly leveraging the convening power of the Yale University brand to corral schools in Brazil, Chile, Ghana, and Vietnam to participate in a venture to share research, teaching materials, faculty and ultimately graduates. Little by little, the network has grown to 34 business schools, including UC-Berkeley Haas.

Last month, deans and directors from the global network converged on the campus of IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland, to assess their progress. They came from Cape Town, Ghana, Nigeria, France, Italy, Germany, the U.S. and other far-flung locales. Many more joined virtually from Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Sweden, and South Wales, among other places. It was the 21st meeting of business school officials who have joined the collaborative effort.

And they had much to celebrate. Ten years after the creation of the network, the statistics tell a story of success. More than 13,000 students have joined a Global Network Week in which students travel to another campus in the network for a course, 4,370 have enrolled in online courses created by network schools, more than 4,500 students have participated in Global Virtual Teams, and nearly 15,200 students and alumni have partaken in Global Network surveys. There also have been case competitions as well as faculty-led collaborations on sustainability, urban resilience, and entrepreneurship, along with a dozen produced cases.

‘I think it was just a good idea, if not a compelling one’

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that no money ever changed hands. Cooperation among the schools was on the basis of goodwill and a strong commitment to creating more global opportunities for students and faculty. Compensation never entered into the discussions.

“I think it was just a good idea if not a compelling one,” reflects Snyder, in his typical understated way. “It really matched what SOM needed as a business school with little global engagement. And it was an asset-lite innovation, with no investment in our capacity.”

Along the way, there were many critical moments for the network. One key idea was to ask participating schools to put together a compelling week of programming on a topic its faculty knew well. Students would then be invited to join the weeks they found most interesting and were given the chance to mix with peers from the other participating schools. “Obviously, for this to work, all participating schools have to pick the same week,” recalls David Bach, dean of innovation and programs at IMD. Bach played a central role in building the network at Yale with Snyder when he was a deputy dean of Yale’s School of Management. “Yet academic calendars vary widely so this seemed impossible. But we had confidence in the power of network effects, got a critical mass of five schools to agree to one week, and told the others ‘if you’d like to join, this is the week.’ 

‘Schools literally changed their academic calendars to participate in Global Network Weeks’

Yale School of Management Dean David Bach

David Bach, now at IMD as dean of innovation and programs, has played a key role in building the global network

“The number of participating schools grew from each edition to the next – five, then seven, then 11, then 13 and so on,” adds Bach. “And the more schools joined in, the more attractive the Global Network Weeks are for everybody. We’re now at more than 20, giving incredible options to students. Schools literally changed their academic calendars to be able to participate. If deans had tried to agree on a week that worked for all, we’d still be discussing. But network effects solved the problem.”

Reflecting on the ten-year anniversary, Snyder notes that the network has gone from childhood to “early adulthood.” 

Not everything was a rousing success. It was difficult to gain significant support for faculty research across the schools or to entice professors to work together to develop case studies on global issues for the network. But three initiatives did work and made a meaningful difference: Small Network Online Courses (SNOC), designed as electives for students to take from around the world; Global Network Weeks, immersions for students to travel to a campus outside their country for a deep dive on a topic, and Global Virtual Teams that brought students all over the world to work on projects or cases together.

The SNOC courses have run the gamut from Bay Area Innovation and Entrepreneurship from faculty at Berkeley Haas and Leadership: Perspectives From The Humanities taught by professors at Oxford Said to Sustainable Finance, Investment & Impact by faculty at ESMT Berlin and Digital Transformation: Using Emerging Tech To Develop Business Opportunities from IE Business School in Spain.

Global Network For Advanced Management

What’s next? ESMT President Jörg Rocholl Tosses Around A Few Ideas

ESMT President Jörg Rocholl is the new chair of the Global Network For Advanced Management

“Students come into our programs with very rich team experiences,” says Snyder. “That said there is no manual on teamwork. And in the global virtual setting, students have very different experiences. These global virtual team projects put together faculty with students, providing students with systematic feedback that allowed them to improve their skills.”

Moving the organization into the next phase was the core of a discussion led by ESMT President Jörg Rocholl, the new chair of the network.  Among other things, he suggested initiatives that would connect alumni of the network to gain broader and closer reach, encourage more joint work on creating programming on sustainability, and leverage the network on executive education.

Other deans think there is some promise in awarding students badges when they complete an online network course or immersion week to put on their LinkedIn profiles. That would allow students to gain credit for their participation and also spread the word about the network to other potential users. Another member thought it would be a good idea to open up network offerings to students in pre-experience master’s programs. One dean proposed opening the network’s online courses to all alumni of the network schools so they could, in effect, have an “MBA for Life.” Yet another idea is to put together a faculty retreat where professors would work on the issue of sustainability, building case jointly-written case studies for the network.

“The power of this network is our ability to scale ideas,” believes Rocholl. 

And that is exactly the vision that Snyder had when he first thought up the idea a decade ago.


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