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Reflections on GBSN in the First Months of 2020

Twenty-twenty already has been a very active year for the staff team supporting the Global Business School Network (GBSN). In Nigeria we co-hosted a workshop with Lagos Business School and the African Academy of Management (AFAM) on the role of business schools in Africa’s sustainable development. Then we went from the Yabacon Valley to Silicon Valley, where we contributed to the fifth annual African Diaspora Investment Symposium, and onward to Cairo for roundtables convened by the AUC School of Business to look ahead on occasion of its 10th Anniversary. We also participated in AACSB and EFMD annual deans conferences in music city and the fashion capital of the world, Nashville and Milan, respectively.

Meanwhile, the U.K. formally left the EU on January 31, we experienced devastating bush fires in Australia, and saw escalating tensions between Iran and America. A new strain of coronavirus, now named COVID-19, appeared in China and quickly spread internationally. Despite noble efforts of global health professionals, the number of confirmed infections and deaths, and their locations, have grown dramatically. The impact on business education has been profound and far-reaching; and costly. Like many schools, GBSN had to cancel a student trip to China. And the end is nowhere in sight. See what “A Virus Teaches Us a Lesson About Globalization, written by GBSN’s Board Chair, Soumitra Dutta.


The activities and events of the 2020’s first two months have provided much for us reflect on. For me, they have drawn attention to two fundamental characteristics of the Global Business School Network.

GBSN is a global network for local relevance and impact.

When it comes to higher education, business schools have been on the front lines of globalization. Learners pursue education across borders; international scholars collaborate and share ideas in the interest of truth and science; business schools from different countries work together to provide cross-cultural experiences; and more. However, as is often the case, our greatest strength can be our greatest weakness.

It is easy to believe that globalization must be undone to protect ourselves wherever we are. It is tempting to build walls. But that would be a mistake, for globalization is not an end to itself. It is a means to an endÑto a better world, and we must keep our eye on that. Rather than being a threat to local cultures and economies, globalization can preserve and expand them. However, that depends on our approach to globalization.

How do we leverage globalization to improve society? For the Global Business School Network, that means connecting organizations and people across borders to enable, nurture and support inclusive and sustainable development from a local perspective. It means bringing together international resources to address the most pressing problems in and for the developing world. That is the spirit of GBSNÑa global network driven by local relevance and impact.

We must be clear that globalization is not about homogenization. GBSN must step up to manage that risk, especially in higher education, where shared assumptions about quality are informed more by inputs rather than by impacts, and often reinforced through rankings, accreditations, and other institutions.

That is why GBSN is committed to stewarding the development of research models relevant to the developing world. This leads us to the second fundamental characteristic of GBSN.

GBSN is about diversity and inclusiveness

Our vision at GBSN is for the developing world to have the managerial and entrepreneurial talent it needs to generate prosperity. Our missionÑthe way we achieve that visionÑis to improve access to quality, locally relevant management and entrepreneurship education for the developing world. It is natural that we tend to focus on business schools when we think about GBSN.

However, while the focal point has always been education, GBSN has always been about bringing together many different types of organizations, from higher education, the private sector, foundations, NGOs, and government. And the higher education industry is changing, giving rise to new and different types of institutions and a changing ecosystem. Technology is improving the effectiveness of education, and access to it. Accordingly, GBSN is diverse and dynamic. It is not a club. As a purpose-driven network, it embraces and engages a wide-range of organizations and approaches to achieve its vision and mission. It is where traditional business schools work with corporate universities and education startups, as well as NGOs, in new and creative ways.

In the coming months and throughout 2020, you will see GBSN continue to gain strength through diversity as we expand and connect our network. You will see our energy focused on local relevance, as in our special workshop on “Developing Research That Matters for Latin America” with the Academy of Management and IPADE Business School and “Embracing the Excluded: A Transformative Role for Business Schools” with Funda‹o Dom Cabral. You also will see us looking “Beyond Business and Borders” in our Annual Conference, this year hosted by the Miami Herbert Business School.


Dan LeClair is the Chief Executive Officer at the Global Business School Network. Widely recognized as a thought leader in management education, Dan is the author of over 80 research reports, articles, and blogs, and has delivered more than 170 presentations in 30 countries.

Connect with Dan on LinkedIn and Twitter @drleclair