Business schools have reacted loudly to the challenges of globalisation. But has their reaction been effective or appropriate? Hellmut Schütte is not so sure.
Business schools have existed for over a century and have remained structurally unchanged since the shake-up of the 1950s following the Ford and Carnegie foundations reports into them.
Today they are still faculty-driven, US-oriented or influenced, delivering residential programmes and are either autonomous of or little integrated into larger universities. As such they operate rather independently.
Business schools have, as a group, been amazingly successful. Very few businesses have been able to enlarge their clientele (number and quality of students) and increase prices (fees) as business schools have done for decades.
Meanwhile, national economies have become more intertwined. Many companies now have dispersed activities across the world or at least across their borders with neighbouring countries. The US has lost its economic dominance and the European Union (EU) its momentum. The continuing growth of the emerging markets, China in particular, is leading to major changes in global supply and demand.
Along with this comes increasing criticism of ideas, if not to say ideologies, made in the US: the belief in rational decision-making, private rather than public initiatives, perfect markets, shareholder value and, last but not least, the concept that “the world is flat”.
For an MBA or EMBA student in Beijing or Shanghai working for a successful, state-owned company, such ideas seem bizarre at best. From where they sit, macro-economic growth rates show that government-led capitalism and stakeholder interests can deliver results that are just as good, if not better.
Finally, issues of general economic interest, such as resource shortages, climate change and environmental protection are no longer problems that can be tackled by individual countries alone; global cooperation is needed.
This does not mean that business schools have done nothing with respect to globalisation. Indeed, there is hardly a reputable school that does not claim, in its vision statement or advertising, to cater to a globalised world.
They recruit foreign students to ensure an international mix of participants, though it rarely makes a dent in the domestic complexion of the overall student body where the majority are still local.
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See more articles from Vol.08 Issue 01 – ’14.
- Globalisation: Unfinished business for business schools - January 1, 2014