Transferring Western Management Knowledge to China

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    Mahmood Zaidi and Thomas Norman report on how team teaching and virtual international student teams have proved vital ingredients in a successful international EMBA.

    China’s recent economic performance has been extraordinary. It has driven a considerable increase in demand for management talent in both foreign and domestic firms at every level— from supervisors to CEOs. In this kind of environment skill shortages can be a major bottleneck for economic growth. The Chinese government has devoted a significant amount of effort and financial resources to developing management education, including forging many partnership with foreign MBA programmes.

    The MBA has its origins in the US but it is now recognised worldwide as an effective way to develop an internationally competitive pool of managers. The traditional MBA, as well as Executive MBA programmes designed for more seasoned leaders, have been introduced relatively recently in China but they have matured quite quickly.

    One Executive MBA programme of note takes an innovative approach, which respects the character of the Chinese environment and the skills of Chinese faculty by marrying their best practices with those of the faculty from a major American research university. The schools involved are the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and Sun Yat-sen University’s Lingnan (University) College. The programme is unique by virtue of two combined features: team teaching and virtual international student teams. This was the first EMBA programme in China taught in English in which all courses are led by faculty members- representing schools from both countries.

    This programme was among the first batch of joint initiatives approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education and the Academic Degree Committee of the State Council in 1999. The EMBA programme in China was part of the American school’s strategy to establish a constellation of three or four EMBA programmes in partnership with top business schools abroad. It built upon knowledge from the Carlson School’s “partnered EMBA programmes” in Austria and Poland with, respectively, Vienna University of Economics and Business and the Warsaw School of Economics.

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