Taking the Show on the Road—and Across the Water

In a session titled Think Global Act Global: The Globalization of Degree Programs for Creating an Educational Experience Across Continents and Cultures, speakers Patricia Keegan of the Booth School of Business and Paul Matthyssens of Antwerp Management School shared their experiences in globalizing their respective programs.

As I ended my first day at the Annual Accreditation Conference, I found myself in a session titled Think Global Act Global: The Globalization of Degree Programs for Creating an Educational Experience Across Continents and Cultures. Speakers Patricia Keegan, associate dean of the Executive MBA Program North America at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and Paul Matthyssens, dean of Universiteit Antwerpen’s Antwerp Management School, shared their unique experiences in globalizing their respective programs.

Keegan and Matthyssens gave attendees several key success factors for international business models:

  1. Planning and controlling
  2. Program strength and uniqueness—resources and faculty are the cornerstone of a successful program
  3. Service attributes (availability, after sales, delivery)
  4. Program adaptation
  5. International competence and experience by all parties involved
  6. Support to intermediaries and partners
  7. Brand image—have a strong program/brand at home and then expand
  8. Alliance management capability
  9. Culturally aware deans

There doesn’t seem to be a magic formula to taking your program abroad. The Booth School of Management service model makes the staff mobile, weekly transporting its faculty across three campuses, offering a single Executive MBA program. Every student gets the same learning experience. On the other hand, Antwerp Management School takes an extremely different approach, creating somewhat of a nomadic cohort, moving its students across the globe each semester, immersing them in cultural experiences and unique learning opportunities with partner schools.

Money, while extremely important, should not be the driving force for going abroad. It is so easy for schools to take a leap of faith, especially when chasing or maintaining AACSB Accreditation (or any accreditation for that matter). Many institutions are actively seeking methods for creating a global impact, but program expansion may not always be the answer.

If your program is considering a more global approach, test the waters before you dive in. Look into creating partnerships with like-minded institutions or perhaps a student exchange program.

From this session, I took away a couple of key lessons: (1) a solid marketing strategy is vital, and (2) you’re never doing enough to address program cost, reputation/brand, and curriculum consistency. Any service model will give way to cultural, market, organizational, and essentially financial issues. It’s imperative that any institution has a clear reason for expanding globally and a game plan for sustainability.