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Exploring the Intersections of Business Education and Economic Development

 width=Did MBAs cause the global economic crash of 2008? Can the proliferation of entrepreneurship education programs in Africa be the thrust the continent needs to achieve the development economists predicted? Will more business schools in China be able to prepare the next generation of leaders to innovate?

These, somewhat provocative, questions speak to the complicated relationship between business education and economic development. In theory, there is a causal relationship between an increase in people educated in business and growth of the economy in which they work. However, in practice the two parts are incorporated in a web of political, social, economic and academic factors that influence and conflict with each other in difficult and inspiring ways.

At the 2017 GBSN conference we’ll be exploring that complex web, pulling out threads like how globalization is challenging schools to balance internationalization with responsiveness to local needs. Like managing the increasing call for business schools to consider and teach sustainability. Like how business schools can work with international development partners to help small businesses grow. Threads like these bring theory to life, and ideas into the complex world of action.

I think the most compelling part of the theme of this year’s GBSN conference is the ‘s” on the end of the word, “Intersections.” The places where business education and economic development intersect are fascinating opportunities for innovation. At those intersections we find creative Public-Private Partnerships that are addressing experiential learning for entrepreneurs, or improving health care outcomes by increasing the management capacity of practitioners. At another intersection that will be highlighted at the conference we’ll learn about an entrepreneurship platform catalyzing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Beijing. And at another how a community in Indonesia is benefiting from a relationship with Michigan educators.

Intersections are opportunities to explore, to change direction and to learn something new. Just as business education is not the exclusive domain of business schools, neither does economic development rely solely on private investment and government programs. The size and skills of the talent pool available to drive economic growth is influenced by schools and governments and aid organizations and businesses alike. By finding ways for them to learn from one another, work together and build on each other’s successes, we can collectively advance the opportunities available for people to thrive around the globe.

This conference is GBSN’s 12th and my 6th with the organization. This year is the first that I recall such a robust focus on integrating ideas and examples from so many voices both inside and outside of the business education sector. We probably won’t get to the bottom of my provocative questions. That’s ok. I am certain we will catalyze new ideas and create new connections that enrich the work of every participant in the conference. I hope you’ll join us.

For more information on the agenda and how to register, visit gbsn.org/2017dc

Page Buchanan is the Chief Operating Officer at the Global Business School Network