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.
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.
Given the enormous reach and impact of global corporations, it is quite clear that corporate leaders have a big role to play in shaping the world of tomorrow. If we are to solve the problems of ecological destruction, staggering inequality and chronic poverty, business leaders must become messiahs of change, championing and directing their companies’ journey to create an equitable and sustainable world.As educators, we need to ask ourselves what role business schools should play in this journey towards corporate sustainability. What type of business school curriculum can help produce future corporate leaders, who have the courage and the empathy to make a difference in the world?If we introspect a little, we can see that business schools today have become simply an extension of corporate hiring departments. Rather than being centers of thought leadership, which encourage managers to think, to question business models, and to derive meaningful paths for themselves, business school curriculum seems to simply reflect corporate hiring priorities. Clearly, there is an urgent need to completely rethink business education, particularly in a world where poverty and inequality persists.
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.
GBSN’s 2018 Learning by Doing: The Power of Experiential Learning in Management Education summit coming up this March 15-16 in Lima, Peru will provide an in depth examination on how schools use real-world projects to give their students an impactful learning experience. Business school deans, directors and faculty will explore innovative approaches to applying action based learning to curricula. “Taking Measure of Experiential Learning” originally published by AACSB International BizEd Magazine, sheds light on how schools can measure experiential program and course learning outcomes by identifying six assurance of learning (AoL) standards that are common to successful project-based courses and provides examples of how some business … Read More