Updated Feb. 1, 2012
We are getting so jaded by negative business headlines prompted by greed and dysfunction, it was refreshing to read a positive story. One such article caught my eye. It tells the story of how dynamic changes in the global economy are prompting a new approach in management education.
The financial meltdown, sub-prime crisis and slow economic recovery are catalysts that are triggering consideration of new curricula at the graduate business school level. Graduates are being made ready to face real-world challenges.
Thirty business schools, including Harvard Business School, are collaborating with Indian business schools to become more relevant for students in contemporary business issues. A conference was held in Ahmedabad, India according to the Economic Times in an article, “B-Schools plan course revamp for industry-ready graduates.”
The collaboration is a first for business schools. It also states Harvard is focusing on ethics and teamwork instead of case studies – competence and character are finally more important than networking.
“…there is greater emphasis on thinking how to think critically and make logical arguments using deductive, inductive, causative, or analogical reasoning,” says author and Harvard school professor Srikant Datar, according to the Economic Times.
He wrote the book, “Rethinking the MBA: Business Education at a Crossroads.”
“As business educators, we need to engage our students in thinking deeply about the roles and responsibilities of business towards various stakeholders and to emphasize the limitations of the models we teach,” the publication quoted Dr. Datar.
He admits the MBA degree is under assault, for example:
- Aside from the top 15 schools in the last decade, enrollment has plummeted 25 to 30 percent and as much as 50 percent at European and U.S. programs.
- Employers have discouraged employees from pursuing full-time MBA studies.
“Schools are giving much more attention to innovation and execution,” the paper quoted Dr. Datar. “To teach these skills, schools in the West are beginning to adopt different pedagogies such as experiential learning. They are recognizing, for example, that innovative thinking, just like swimming, is best learned through repeated practice in real situation.
My sense is this approach is long overdue. This was a concern of mine when attending the EMBA Program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management three decades ago. The focus wasn’t on contemporary issues in management – the best parts were the war stories of the professors.
Earlier as a journalism student, the University of Tulsa regularly gave us experiential exercises. It was a great complement to my professional life as I worked in broadcasting simultaneously.
More common sense in business education:
“Unlike other professions, a manager’s success depends on motivating and inspiring others. Schools are using leadership laboratories to train students to examine their own strengths and weaknesses, with the goal of building their skills in self and relationship management,” he was quoted as saying.
That’s been my experience in strengths-and-weakness training as business-performance consultant in my human resources practice. Think of it as a personals SWOT analysis. All training courses include modules in self-assessment and teamwork, and other experiential exercises. Ninety percent of my students adapted well and experienced a double-digit increase in self esteem, which led to higher performance. The remaining 10 percent was un-trainable, usually for reasons of alcoholism or drug addiction.
Critical thinking, ethics and values – are you listening Wall Street?
From the Coach’s Corner, here are management resource links:
“Most people go through college and learn to read Virgil and master the mysteries of calculus without ever discovering how their own minds function.”
Columnist Terry Corbell is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services (many are available online). For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule Terry Corbell as a speaker, why don’t you contact him today?