How would you describe the work of business schools? Most people go straight to the teaching. Business schools teach business and management through a wide range of degree programs and executive education, helping learners to build and navigate careers as managers. Those more familiar with the industry add that business schools conduct objective and rigorous research to inform practicing managers and policy makers, as well as support teaching. In short, business schools develop skills, insights, and opportunities for organizations and the people who manage them.
Six months ago I joined the Global Business School Network (GBSN) for what I call the three P’s—the purpose, the potential, and the people. So you might ask, have I found what was looking for? Is the purpose everything I thought it was? What is GBSN’s potential? Have I connected with new and interesting people? It seems like a good time to reflect on my experience and share thoughts about the journey.
What if we took a group of high performing managers from Canadian paper mills and placed them in the Hawassa Industrial Park in Ethiopia. Would they succeed? Regardless of whether you answered yes, no, or maybe, your responses to questions like this one can reveal a lot about the work we’re doing at the Global Business School Network (GBSN). Since we were created by the World Bank 17 years ago, our vision has been for the developing world to have the management talent it needs to generate prosperity. We want to achieve that vision by “improving access to quality, locally relevant management and entrepreneurship education for the developing world.” As my experience grows with GBSN, so does my respect for the local relevance part of our mission. Here are three ways that we are prioritizing local relevance in our work.
Dear GBSN Member Teams, Thank you for such a warm welcome to the Global Business School Network (GBSN). It has been a little more than a month since I started as CEO. During that time I met many of you and have been energized by the work we are doing together. Your commitment to improving access to quality, locally relevant management and entrepreneurship education for the developing world is palpable. And that makes GBSN truly distinctive and vital to the future not only of management education, but also of business and society. As you read this letter, the GBSN Experiential … Read More
For me this brief interaction pointed to three interesting developments in management education. First, it provided an example of the blurring boundaries between what companies and business schools do. Second, it revealed some of the key advantages of ‘learning by doing” to develop managers and leaders. Third, it demonstrated the importance of context in creating meaningful and effective learning experiences.
If you could change anything — anything at all — about your business school, what would it be? In one form or another, that basic question is placed before every business school leader. Whereas “nothing — nothing at all” might once have sufficed for the sake of continuity and tradition, it’s no longer viewed as an acceptable response. Business school leaders, like the rest of us, live and lead in an economy described by terms and phrases such as disruptive, exponential growth, Fourth Industrial Revolution, automated, and VUCA. The time to think that business schools can continue teaching what they have, the same way, to the same people, in the same places, and with the same faculty is over. This article is about how business schools are stepping up to the challenge of change and what rankings can and can’t do to support them.