The need for renewed approaches to business and management research and teaching has been intensively discussed. Dajian Zhu and Anders Aspling analyse the implications of this for management education in China.
Business education began as an organised and focused activity in the early 19th century, first in France and then, towards the end of that century, in the US.
After the second world war the US model of management development came to influence large parts of the world. Business schools grounded in the US model were founded in many countries.
From the latter part of the 20th century and into the new millennium the dominant model for business schools and management education worldwide was heavily influenced by the US model, itself characterised by the reasoning of the Carnegie and Ford reports commissioned in 1959.
This model largely embraces values aligned with the belief that a strict market capitalism contributes to the welfare of society at large. Europe, with its more interdisciplinary and culturally diverse tradition, has struggled to integrate this model. Europe also represented a different approach to research – more quality oriented and less reliant on quantitative methodology.
Towards the end of the 20th century there were definite signs that the “Americanisation” of European business schools and management education was being questioned and challenged.
China management education 1.0
In the 1980s management education in China began based on the discipline of “management science and engineering” (MSE).
Many US and European academics have found it difficult to understand the discipline of MSE. In China, MSE is the earliest field of management research and education and includes fundamental theories, management skills and the quantitative methods of management science.
The concept of MSE developed from its roots in operations research and industrial engineering. While in the US this discipline is often technology oriented and falls into the schools of engineering or departments of mathematics, in China it is management oriented and related to the core of management education.
The MSE approach developed rapidly to become the major component of management education in China.
In the early 1980s many Chinese universities began establishing management schools or new departments of management science. By 1987 185 universities had established relevant schools or departments. This development built on the dual characteristics of management science research – a combination of technology and technical science (with natural science ingredients) and social sciences.
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