Accelerating Global Engagement With Collaboration and Innovation
Business schools have a responsibility to produce graduates who are adaptable and who show the capacity to build a globally connected and locally relevant society.
A decade ago, a report titled “The Global Management Education Landscape: Shaping the Future of Business Schools,” authored by the Global Foundation for Management Education, examined the global landscape of management education, highlighting the importance of stakeholder cooperation in shaping the future of the discipline. In particular, the report indicated that “the future will demand much more if business schools are to support regional development goals, increase access to management education, develop more innovative curricula, share in the development of instructional resources, and monitor and project the emerging needs of business organizations.”
In the decade since, a lot has changed in terms of the economic, political, and technological context. However, organizations around the world have yet to adapt to the ensuing change of pace, according to Mercer’s 2017 Global Talent Trends Study. In fact, this study revealed that the majority (93 percent) of organizations worldwide are planning to redesign their structure in the next two years; yet only 4 percent of surveyed business executives say their organization is “change agile”—an indicator of organizational ability to efficiently and effectively adapt to change.
The study, which gathered insights from over 7,000 professionals from 37 countries and 20 industry sectors, notes that “[a]s the competition for talent continues to rise and business models are disrupted by technology and socio-demographic shifts, organizations are still taking an evolutionary approach to their talent strategies in the face of revolutionary changes.”
Despite the dramatic changes of the past decade and the expected changes within the next decade, business schools have a responsibility to produce graduates who are capable of making organizations adaptable. At the same time, graduates ought to show the capacity to build a globally connected and locally relevant society. Pankaj Ghemawat and Phillip Bastian assert in “(Anti)Globalization and Higher Education” that, “[i]n today's turbulent climate, it's more crucial than ever for business schools to pursue and promote globalization in their programs.”
This calls for designing and implementing effective global engagement strategies. Gabriel Hawawini, in his article “Does Your School Have an International Strategy?” argues that international strategy should find a right balance between two key dimensions—“international reach” and “international richness.” International reach, he clarifies, indicates the breadth of international activities an institution’s profile has, while international richness indicates the institution’s diversity of student body and faculty.
However, business schools face many challenges in achieving a strong international strategy, among them the increasing cost of education and declining brand differentiation. On top of this, tightened immigration policies in some regions reduce international students’ chances of being able to stay in the country they studied in and find career opportunities after they graduate. These changes are prompting international students to be more conscious of what their return on investment is in business education.
For example, StudyPortals’ data of over 11,000 business and management master’s programs around the world confirms that students are seeking degrees with lower tuition fees far more than those with higher tuition fees. In 2017, the programs with tuition fees lower than 20,000 USD had 65 percent more page views than those whose tuition fees exceeded 40,000 USD.
This is where the core tenets of collaboration and innovation, facilitated through a quality-focused platform like AACSB, become the key differentiators of business schools pursuing impactful and relevant global engagement strategies. Such an association helps students understand that investing in quality management education delivers a long-term career value.
An AACSB report on the “Globalization of Management Education” suggests that schools must find ways to complement one another, and that “[s]trategic partnerships have the potential to be a key enabler of efficiencies leading to comparative and competitive advantages for the institutions that engage in them.” These strategic partnerships foster collaboration at many levels, including curricular partnerships with business schools, interdisciplinary partnerships with other university departments, connections with business, engagement with government, and public-private partnerships with third-party providers that support the institution’s initiative.
The tenet of collaboration complements that of innovation. Chief Innovation Officer at the Kellogg School of Management, Elizabeth Ziegler, asserts that enhancing the impact of business education “will require innovation on the part of business schools, along with experimentation and risk-taking.” She adds that innovation in higher education has become a prerequisite for survival.
Innovation is about creating value within constraints. It is about finding the right balance in “the space between academe and practice” and exploring the role of business schools as the centers that facilitate lifelong learning. Likewise, innovation means enrolling students through technology-enabled and data-informed strategies. Finally, innovation is exploring newer academic offerings (e.g., degrees, diplomas, certificates, and micro-credentials) and delivering them through transnational education models to accommodate the global student market (e.g., through joint-degrees, double-degrees, online, and blended).
The next decade will be characterized by intensified competition for talent, resources, and reputation among business schools. However, business schools share the common purpose of developing global managerial talent who can make organizations adaptable to change. To this end, business schools are encouraged to accelerate global engagement strategies on the foundations of collaboration and innovation.
Rahul Choudaha is a global higher education strategist and analyst and executive vice president of global engagement and research at Studyportals. Follow him on Twitter @DrEducationBlog.