New world economic order demands management education reforms to
meet 21st century
Dr. Dharma de Silva
Dharma de Silva, Professor and Director Centre for International
Business Advancement Rudd Foundation Distinguished Fellow Chair, World
Trade Council of Wichita, Barton School of Business, Wichita State
University, presented a paper at the Pan-Pacific XXIX World Conference
at Haikou, China on May 26 Prologue. The second decade of the 21st
century, business and managers continue to experience unprecedented
global competition at home and abroad; correspondingly demanding
management education to meet the times, especially MBA training to
prepare business leaders with global business skills competency.
The paper reviews the global influences brought about by
globalisation, economic-trade liberalisation, integration of cultures
and business practices contributing to a competitive global marketplace
beyond the TRIAD (dominated by JUG) to BRICKS and G20's EMCs.
It draws on findings from 28 textbook authors and workshop
leaders/resource specialists conducting the WSU CIBA-USED/BIE symposium
in 2006(Appendix in URL www.WTCouncil.wichita.edu; interviews with
participating professors, BIE/CIBER directors; and reports/accreditation
systems by Bologna Accord, GFME, AACSB and EFMD's EQUIS, (2007-2012). It
examines pressing issues, prevailing trends, and recommendations on
building university and B-School core competencies and best practices,
harnessing expertise of Advisory Councils of executives coupled with
impact roles of constituents/stakeholders in a strategic planning model
for management education reform to build afresh undergraduate and
postgraduate MBA/EMBA,PhD and DBA programmes.
Of essence: continued revitalization of B-Schools to deliver
management education degrees of relevancy and currency will be greatly
enhanced by strategic alliances between B-Schools and Industry/Business
and collaboration with intra-university academic exchanges.
Globalisation: A new trajectory for management education Globalisation
is one of the most significant forces of change for business and thereby
demands management education adapt to supply business skills likewise.
In the eyes of most knowledgeable analysts, globalization has delivered
vast benefits to society. Free trade and the gains from comparative
advantage-understood since David Ricardo's postulation in 1817 - have
offered incentives for integration of business across countries and
Yet, a succession of economic crises over the past two decades
spawned a small but headline-grabbing chorus of criticism about business
school products. Some critics blamed the onset and spread of the
financial crisis on the wave of globalization over the past generation.
That business schools have a hand in globalization is a popular charge.
The financial crisis spawned some op-ed columns alleging that the crisis
was due to MBA graduates of leading schools.
Some would argue that the future of management education is at a
tipping point. After the recent financial crises that are still
affecting much of the world, many critics looked to the ‘breeding
grounds’ for those ‘responsible’ for the global disaster....namely the
world's leading business schools. Whilst most fair-minded analysts agree
that laying the blame at the door of the educators is unfair, the
accusations have led to a re-evaluation of business education and the
types of leaders that are being produced as a result of achieving the
‘holy grail’ of the MBA.
Indeed, even the United Nations (UN) has declared an interest in the
subject by forming the United Nations initiative for Principles of
Responsible Management Education (PRME). The University of Exeter
Business School's response to the implementation of PRME has been to
launch a completely new MBA programme from 2011Srikant Datar et. al. in
a HBR article ‘Business Schools Face Test of Faith.’
“Is it time to retrain B-Schools?”
As these headlines make clear, business education is at a major
crossroads. For decades, MBA graduates from top-tier schools set the
standard for cutting-edge business knowledge and skills. Now the
business world has changed, say the authors of Rethinking the MBA, and
MBA programmes must change with it.
Increasingly, managers and recruiters are questioning conventional
business education. Their concerns? Among other things, MBA programmes
aren't giving students the heightened cultural awareness and global
perspectives they need. Newly minted MBAs lack essential leadership
skills. Creative and critical thinking demand far more attention.
Globalisation is still in its formative years. Globalization, many
would argue, is at once the most visible opportunity and the most
persistent challenge faced by business schools. A frustratingly-wide
curriculum gap remains alongside large risks of misdirected and
Globalisation has obviously been difficult for business schools and,
unquestionably, they must do more to deepen our understanding of global
business and to extend the reach of educational engagement across
The globalisation of management education is being shaped by a
complex web of forces we have only just begun to understand. The
outcomes have not been predetermined and will depend enormously on the
actions, individually and collectively, taken by business schools and a
wide range of stakeholders today. Competition is not the only aspect of
globalisation that elevates quality and performance in management
education. Globalisation also opens management educators’ eyes to new
models and expands benchmarking opportunities. When different
educational and research processes, cultures, and experiences meet, more
innovation is likely to occur. Business schools also augment and improve
capabilities through partnerships and use them as a platform to launch
capacity building initiatives.
When faculties generate and share educational content relevant to
local communities, ‘'social multiplier'’ impacts result. Successful
initiatives of one school help countless others globalize. We cannot
possibly be precise about the attributes, knowledge, and skills that are
most relevant to a ‘'global'’ business school. Indeed, we have stumbled
on a major reason why so little useful information exists from business
leaders about what they expect from business school graduates. General
leadership, communication, teamwork, and relationship development skills
have always been important, but globalisation has made them critical.
Two changes brought on by the globalisation will likely have a larger
impact. First, risk must be interpreted and managed in a global setting.
In most national settings, higher education is characterized as stable
and predictable in comparison to business and government. Exchange
rates, regulations, and reputations can change quickly, so deans and
directors must be more tolerant of ambiguity and able to manage risk.
Second, the globalisation of management education will often require
more creativity and innovation. Regardless of where they are based,
universities and business schools have not normally required leaders to
so consistently create new products, processes, and marketing methods.
Little incentive has been offered to be innovative. In more competitive
and collaborative global environments, we see more pressures and
opportunities to invent and implement new ideas. Industry-wide
initiatives can accelerate and improve
globalization. They could be suppliers, service providers,
intermediaries, or regulators. Though not meant to be all-inclusive, a
list of some recommendations for additional research follows:
Will management education globalize like business?
AACSB'S REPORT highlighted many fascinating questions about if and
how business school globalization (or higher education globalization,
for that matter) will resemble globalization by firms and other types of
organizations. Business schools house many scholars of multinational
enterprise who are intimately familiar with the issues, trends, and
strategies of businesses seeking influence, resources, market share, and
efficiencies across borders.
What global skills and competencies should educators aim to build?
AACSB notes that specialty from the business community (and
particularly of segments within the business community) about needed
skills among business school graduates is rare; in most cases, business
schools are tasked with assessing more general evidence of the business
world's needs and interpreting the implications for their educational
programs. For business schools to develop the most appropriate
educational responses, future research must enable these needs to be
more clearly defined and articulated. As part of a broader effort by
members of the academic community to develop and implement effective
measures of learning outcomes, an enhanced understanding of the
particular challenges posed by assessment of ‘global’ competencies and
capabilities is increasingly important
How will innovations in technology and learning approaches advance
the globalization of management education? Technological advances and
the corresponding transformation of learning have implications for
educational delivery far beyond the scope of globalization.
How can the ‘haves’ help the ‘have-nots'?
The AACSB report references the important role of developmental
relationships between established 232 Globalization of Management
Education business schools and those schools seeking to improve.
Additional research on successful capacity-building efforts can yield
insights that would be useful in helping to support these kinds of
developmental relationships. This is the third great wave of development
in management education.
The AACSB Task Force believes that, given the trends observed, they
are relatively early in the wave. A history of the relationship between
business academia and the business profession suggests that business
practices drive academic research; research stimulates changes in
practice; and revised practice drives more research. Given the rapid and
monumental developments in practice associated with the globalization of
business, this report is necessarily more of a prologue than a
definitive exposition of the situation, more of a call for further
research than a settling of mature questions, and more of an appeal to
action than a satisfied endorsement of the status quo.
Several Business Schools’ self-reports also seem to provide evidence
of a fair amount of curricular changes that relate to globalization.
Thus, the 2009 Curricular Innovation Study by the MBA Roundtable found
that 69 percent of the 232 respondent programs reported that they had
made a significant revision to their MBA curriculum within the previous
And 47 percent of all programs reported that they had provided more
emphasis on global perspectives, which came in just behind that hardy
perennial of leadership development offerings (49 percent). Influencing
management education to change with times is the significance of the
2008-2009 global crisis and impact on the new global agenda of the new
world order become unveiled, on the backdrop of the worst economic
crisis since the great depression, demanding new approaches and
strategies for management education to overcome the consequences of: the
current economic perils in Europe, Euro issues and accompanying
employment problems. Coupled with national debt crises exemplified by
the US debt ceiling debate of 2011; In the second half of the period, we
witnessed the collapse of the credit system and a rapid spread of the
biggest and most contagious economic recession in our lifetime.
This crisis has presented the international community with some
needs: (a) design and implement global recovery, (b) reform of the IMF
to cope with economic distress in the developing countries, (c)
international financial regulation, (d) reform of the international
monetary system, (e) diverse calls to rethink global capitalism (with
more questions raised than answers) The resultant decline of global
economic growth, world trade, and investment is immeasurable in its
impact on manufacturing jobs, employment in all sectors, consumption and
standards of living world-wide asking the important question- what have
Business Schools taught MBAs/mangers?
This new scenario adds a note of urgency to new initiatives e.g. like
PRME: a global call to change the curriculum, research and learning
methods of management education, incorporating at the core of the
vision, the tools and the skills taught, the values expressed by
Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) of the United
Nations Global Compact [UNGC].
The UNGC Principles for Responsible Management Education Principles
for Responsible Management Education (PRME or ‘Prime’) As institutions
of higher learning involved in the education of current and future
managers we are voluntarily committed to engaging in a continuous
process of improvement of the following Principles, reporting on
progress to all our stakeholders and exchanging effective practices with
other academic institutions: Principle 1. Purpose: We will develop the
capabilities of students to be future generators of sustainable value
for business and society at large and to work for an inclusive and
sustainable global economy. Principle 2. Values: We will incorporate
into our academic activities and curricula the values of global social
responsibility as portrayed in international initiatives such as the
United Nations Global Compact. Principle 3. Method: We will create
educational frameworks, materials, processes and environments that
enable effective learning experiences for responsible leadership.
Principle 4. Research: We will
engage in conceptual and empirical research that advances our
understanding about the role, dynamics, and impact of corporations in
the creation of sustainable social, environmental and economic value.
Partnership: We will interact with managers of business
corporations to extend our knowledge of their challenges in meeting
environmental responsibilities and to explore jointly effective
approaches to meeting these challenges. Principle 6. Dialogue: We will
facilitate and support dialog and debate among educators, business,
government, consumers, media, civil society organizations and other
interested groups and stakeholders on critical issues related to global
social responsibility and sustainability. We understand that our own
organizational practices should serve as example of the values and
attitudes we convey to our students Today business schools are expected
to be much more customer-focused, entrepreneurial, and self-reliant. And
perhaps most important, today business schools need to be more global
but act local in planning, organizing and staffing their courses to meet
with the changing times.
Management education has entered a period of profound transition –
driven by globalization, technology, demographics, and pressing social
Because management education is an investment in the future of
business, it's important to understand the challenges, opportunities,
potential risks and rewards associated with this transition. In light of
recent developments in management education, we conclude that the future
not only holds exciting opportunities, but also poses serious challenges
for business schools.
This report leaves little doubt that the demand for management
education will continue to grow.
Dr. Dharma de Silva held the first University Chair and Professor of
Management Studies and Founding Dean of the Faculty of Management
Studies at the University of Ceylon, Vidyodaya [now Sri Jayewardenepura