Business schools face major challenges if they are to profit from the growth of executive education. One way, says Santiago Iniguez, is to produce faculty with diverse and hybrid skills.
One of the biggest growth opportunities for business schools is at the same time one of the biggest challenges they face: how best to provide in-company training and tailored programmes for organisations.
A number of factors are driving the growth in this particular sector of higher education.
Companies need, more than ever, to attract, retain and develop talent. Research shows that an organisation’s commitment to in-house training and professional development are among the most important factors for executives when deciding to join a company, particularly in the case of the so-called millennial generation. (See Creating Tomorrow’s Leaders: the Expanding Roles of Millennials in the Workplace; Boston College, Center for Work and Family).
In the not-too-distant future, businesses will be able to count on the most multi-generational workforce in history. For many countries, the majority of their populations will soon be aged 50 and over. Longer life expectancy and delayed retirement will provide opportunities and challenges for companies.
They will be able to draw on the experience of older managers, their network of stakeholders, their reputation and their knowledge of the sector. At the same time, a constantly changing environment will require periodic retraining, maintaining older employees’ capacity to innovate, as well as having to manage diversity across generations.
The need for businesses to convert knowledge management into a differential competitive advantage links directly to the internal development of talent.
The question we need to ask ourselves is whether most business schools, and not just a few, are ready, willing and able to meet the challenge of designing and delivering tailored programmes for companies.
As things stand, at least based on what Chief Learning Officers (CLOs) have to say, the answer is “not yet”.
CLOs say that educational content and teaching materials used in custom programmes are not properly adapted to the development and training needs of businesses. They call for less off-the-shelf, packaged, US-centric traditional MBA contents. (See UNICON, “University based executive education markets and trends”, Lloyd and Newkirk, 2011)
But the problem with developing adapted content for executive education is that research incentives at many business schools are not generally aligned with the needs of executive education.
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