A New Approach to Accreditation: From Compliance to Consultation

AACSB's new and former executive vice president and chief accreditation officers Stephanie Bryant and Bob Reid discuss how AACSB has changed its approach to quality accreditation.


Bob Reid: [00:15] Stephanie, you've been a very active volunteer and held a lot of accreditation leadership roles. In the time you've been involved with AACSB, how have you seen AACSB evolve?

Stephanie Bryant: [00:25] That's a great question. I do think there has been a tremendous shift in AACSB in philosophy. Ten-ish years ago when I started, I think there was much more emphasis on compliance, much more emphasis on "Are we following the standards to the letter of the law?"

[00:43] I think that's shifted. I think that's moved away from a compliance standpoint more to a, "How can we help this school? How can we make this school is following their mission and having the outcomes that they want?" I think there's definitely a move away from a strict interpretation of the law to a quality standard, a consultative standard.

Reid: [01:02] As you come into the role of chief accreditation officer, where do you see accreditation going? What might it look like five or 10 years from now that's different than what exists today?

Bryant: [01:15] I think you'll see a variety of people involved who perhaps haven't been involved. I think particularly in accounting accreditation you'll see more practitioners involved.

[01:25] I hope that one of the things we are able to achieve with AACSB is to bring people closer together, and that is to bring the corporate world closer to the business school education experience.

[01:38] I think you're going to see a lot more interaction and engagement, and in fact, that's one of the emphases of the new accreditation standards. I think you'll see more corporate people at the table. I think you'll see more intertwining of those relationships, and I think that will be a great thing.

Reid: [01:56] As you think about accreditation changing and going down a transition from being very input focused to being more output driven, being less compliance focused and more consultative in our peer reviews and in the work we do, how do you see us adapting to that transition?

Bryant: [02:17] I think it happens over time; I don't think it happens instantly. We have to do things that promote that change. For example, our Innovations initiative is really an opportunity to say to people, "Show us what you do and is innovative. We want to share those things." I think we have to have activities that promote that.

[02:40] Then, really importantly, in our peer driven process, we have to help peer review teams see that when things are innovative, some things work and some things don't. When a school tries something that's innovative, that in fact doesn't work, that's not a failure, per se. We should not be afraid of innovation.

[03:02] I think that message is really, really important. We want schools to be innovative. We want them to share what they're doing, and we'd like to be able to take those best practices and help them help other schools as well.

Filmed September 2017 on site at AACSB's Annual Accreditation Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.