Kenneth W Freeman and Howard Thomas outline some of the crowdsourced ideas about the future of business schools and other institutions that emerged from the first Business Education Jam.
For four days last autumn, researchers, scholars, students, executives and thought leaders engaged in an unprecedented online brainstorming session about the future of management education.
The Business Education Jam, conducted by Boston University Questrom School of Business in the US in collaboration with EFMD and other global partners, attracted more than 4,000 participants from over 40 industries, 350 academic institutions and 122 countries.
Around the clock and around the world these “Jammers” shared insights, experiences and ideas about issues critical to business and business education: how to engage new-generation students and employees; impart 21st century competencies; develop innovators for the future; foster more collaboration between industry and academia, and much more.
Participants could join in from their laptop, desktop or smartphone, begin a conversation, leave for a while and come back without missing a beat thanks to the full record and analysis Jam technology provides.
The experience was much like that of any social network with the added benefits of real-time aggregation and analysis that directed the conversation to maximise productivity and enable synthesis of the results.
Those results – the wisdom of this “crowd” – include many innovative answers to the challenging questions facing everyone with a stake in business education. From among the many questions the Jam addressed, three that are particularly closely related illustrate the power of crowdsourcing to help chart a course to the future.
Q1 – How can we foster ethical leadership?
Given the malfeasance of the recent past and today’s time of great transitions in the environment, health care and global economies, Jammers almost universally agreed that educational institutions and businesses have a new and urgent responsibility to nurture deeply ethical leaders.
Ideas about fostering ethical leadership converged around a central principle: integrate ethics with all aspects of business education and organisational culture.
Strategies proposed for integrating ethics with education include the case method, simulations, presentations from business leaders who have faced difficult ethical questions and more.
Some participants favoured courses that do a deep dive into values, culture and ethical ideas.
A number advocated building an ethical dimension into functional courses such as finance, marketing and operations.
Others argued for beginning programmes with a course devoted to ethics in order to equip students with ethical frameworks they could apply in functional courses.
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