What Does the Business School of the Future Look Like?

Video Icon Video
Wednesday, April 19, 2023
With increased experiential learning, co-created knowledge, and broader educational access, tomorrow's business schools will find revitalized relevance.
Featuring Alex Triantis, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School; Tim Vorley, Oxford Brookes Business School; Halla Tómasdóttir, The B Team; Jeffrey Brown, Gies College of Business; and Karen Spens, BI Norwegian Business School
  • Business schools can help tomorrow's leaders develop a problem-solving mindset by offering an interdisciplinary framework and experiential learning programs.
  • To become more inclusive institutions, business school leaders should reevaluate how they make decisions about admissions, hiring, and curriculum.
  • Greater co-creation and affordability, in combination with unique networking and leadership opportunities, will be key to creating new value that meets learners' needs.


Alex Triantis: [0:14] If we look, if I use my crystal ball 10 years out, what a business school will look like, I think we'll see a number of differences.

[0:21] First of all, experiential learning will become more and more mainstream as a way of integrating the different functional areas that we're teaching students and giving them the critical problem solving tools that they can attack increasingly challenging and complex problems.

[0:39] I also think that business education will become more interdisciplinary, where we will bring in facets of public policy, of engineering and innovation management, and so on, from various disciplines into the business school.

[0:54] Conversely, I think business schools will be helping to supplement the education in all the other divisions, all the other schools in a university.

[1:04] Clearly, we're also dramatically changing how we teach students. The rapid increase in online learning has opened our eyes in terms of how do we provide knowledge, and how do we train students to be able to solve problems?

Experiential learning will become more and more mainstream as a way of integrating the different functional areas.

[1:20] Having those different tools of online education together with experiential learning allows us to do some pretty powerful things for our students.

Tim Vorley: [1:28] One of the key things for me about the value proposition of the business school is co-creation, thinking about how we work with businesses, how we work with organizations to try and develop something that's of value for everyone that's part of it.

[1:42] By working with business, we can respond to their needs. We will create value in a way that we couldn't do independently and that they couldn't do independently either. The outcome of that has clear benefits for our students, our graduates.

[1:53] Thinking about lifelong learning, it means that people will keep wanting to come back to the business school. We'll keep adding value, and that relationship can only grow.

Halla Tómasdóttir: [2:01] Business schools need to think about how to become inclusive at this time. There is a little bit of a design problem that most business schools have. They've been designed around exclusion.

[2:15] It's even from the way that we pride ourselves on how few people actually get into business schools or how few people get enough scores on certain exams to get into business schools.

[2:24] I think we come from the world where we've built the whole experience on exclusion, and now we need leaders who will actually have exposure to the many people that have been left behind in society.

[2:36] We need to rethink everything in business school around a more inclusive approach, and it starts by asking or doing what we on The B Team often call changing who to change how.

[2:47] We need to think about who are the deans in the world? Who are the faculty that we bring in, and not just from the current academic faculty, but also, are we bringing in private sector leaders?

We need to rethink everything in business school around a more inclusive approach.

[2:59] Are we bringing in people with lived experiences to share with those of us who have been fortunate enough to live with opportunity? Do we bring those who are not so fortunate to bear?

[3:11] Then, who gets into the business schools, and what do we do after students get into business schools? Do we actually give them opportunities to develop their humility, their empathy, they're putting themselves in the shoes of those who suffer from climate change or those who suffer from inequality or those who suffer from broken communities?

[3:31] We need to rethink the entire experience to help universities become more inclusive. The biggest shift is probably to try to get rid of this underlying mindset that exclusive is better than inclusive. 

Jeffrey Brown: [3:46] I think business schools will have transformed themselves in a way to be relevant for people throughout their lifetimes.

[3:54] That individuals, from the time they're young all the way up until the point of retirement, maybe even beyond, when they need new skills to stay relevant to the workforce, to be effective leaders, that we're going to have solutions available for them when they need it and where they need it.

[4:12] I think that online education and whatever the next generation of that is, whether it's in the metaverse or something else, will be tools that we will be using to do that. My great hope is that business schools are the ones to own that space rather than seeding it to nonacademic institutions.

Alex: [4:35] There's this question about whether or not degrees will go into the sunset and there'll be additional certifications and other ways to prove your skills. I'm a strong believer in the degree providing something that is more than just the sum of the parts.

[4:50] It's a way of aligning a variety of different courses and allowing for special experiences that draw from those courses. They're not simply modular pieces that one might take a certificate in or a qualification in.

Business schools will continue to thrive and do well with degree programs, but we can supplement it with smaller bits and pieces for lifelong learning and for those that perhaps cannot afford a full degree.

[5:05] I also think there's the networking, the ability to continue to learn, how to work together on teams, and how to be a leader. That's something that's really unique that a business school offers that just business education offered in small parts doesn't necessarily achieve.

[5:22] I think that business schools will continue to thrive and do well with degree programs, but we can supplement it with smaller bits and pieces for lifelong learning and for those that perhaps cannot afford a full degree.

Karen Spens: [5:36] That's an interesting question, thinking about how we will see degrees evolving and the short learning modules of courses and certificates.

[5:45] What we can see is also that maybe shorter periods are of more interest to the students. In that sense, degrees, for example, at my school in my country, Norway, we're not even allowed to have a master's that's less than two years.

[6:03] That really has to be rethought both on a national level, international level, and also, of course, business schools have to think about that, how to do it.

[6:14] Students are asking for shorter periods of time, shorter time span, so I guess certificates and short learning modules will be the way to move forward in thinking about the future.

The views expressed by contributors to AACSB Insights do not represent an official position of AACSB, unless clearly stated.
Subscribe to LINK, AACSB's weekly newsletter!
AACSB LINK—Leading Insights, News, and Knowledge—is an email newsletter that brings members and subscribers the newest, most relevant information in global business education.
Sign up for AACSB's LINK email newsletter.
Our members and subscribers receive Leading Insights, News, and Knowledge in global business education.
Thank you for subscribing to AACSB LINK! We look forward to keeping you up to date on global business education.
Weekly, no spam ever, unsubscribe when you want.