GBSN CEO

What Can Higher Education do to Address Gender Inequality?

According to a 2018 World Bank report, “globally, the loss in human capital wealth due to gender inequality is estimated at $160 trillion.” Presented differently and more positively, “human capital wealth could increase 21.7 percent globally, and total wealth by 14.0 percent with gender equality in earnings.” Three years earlier, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that a “full-potential scenario in which women participate in the economy identically to men, would add up to $28 trillion, or 26 percent, to annual global GDP in 2025 compared with a business-as-usual scenario.” No matter how you measure it; improvements in gender equality can create huge benefits to society.

Numbers such as these make a big impression, but a lot can be lost. While they illustrate the overall magnitude of the problem, such measures don’t usually reveal much about the differences across countries and regions. These differences are especially important for the work of Global Business School Network (GBSN), which is built on the fact that business is still largely contextual. Our mission is “to improve access to quality, locally relevant management education for the developing world.” And one of our core strengths is to activate our global network to support local institutions and communities.

That was the idea behind our latest webinar, which brought together experienced scholars and professionals from around the world to explore the role of higher education in addressing gender inequality. It was offered in partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the PNGAus Partnership, and motivated by work that GBSN has been doing to assist universities in Papua New Guinea to develop entrepreneurship education and well as address gender inequality. To put things into perspective, in the United Nations Development Programme’s 2021 Gender Inequality Index, Papua New Guinea ranked 160 out of 161 countries.

I won’t try to summarize the webinar in this blog. Instead, I will highlight a few high-level themes and encourage readers to watch the video on the GBSN YouTube channel.

First, gender equality is inextricably connected with other important issues and challenges.

It’s not just SDG5, which aims to achieve “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” Gender inequality affects (or is affected by) almost every other SDG, including the obvious ones, such as poverty reduction, health, education, decent work, and reduced inequalities, and also others such as clean water and sanitation and sustainable cities and communities.

Gender-specific benchmarks are formally tied to nine other SDGs, according to Juliane Iannarelli, Senior Advisor to GBSN and former Chief Knowledge Officer and Head of Diversity and Inclusion at AACSB International. With so many touch points across the SDGs, said Iannarelli, gender inequality is an inherently complex issue, and we should expect the issue to be viewed through many different lenses. Part of our responsibility in higher education is to unpack the issues and enable learners to view challenges from multiple perspectives.

Second, it is not only the right thing to do; gender equality also improves results.

In her opening keynote, Connie Gonzalez, Deputy Director for the Center for Women’s Economic Empowerment (CWEE), based in El Salvador, focused on the positive impact that gender equality can have on organizational leadership and performance. For example, there is increasing evidence that company profit, teamwork, and responsibility improve when more women are in leadership positions.

“To me, the key point is that this evidence demonstrates that gender equality should be a central part of core curricula and research agendas in business schools. It is not a side issue, nor is it strictly about social responsibility. Gender equality is as integral to business performance as finance, information systems, and strategy.”

Third, universities and business schools should think broadly and creatively about the ways they can foster gender equality.

The panelists addressed questions in three general areas, increasing access to women, increasing efficacy of education for women, and how to ensure that gender initiatives have the intended impact. Their discussion highlighted a wide range of opportunities that go beyond changing what we teach and study in business schools.

Panelists brought up the importance of role models and mentors for women—and pointed out subtleties, such as how much more beneficial it is when women are enabled to seek their own mentors, rather than have them appointed. They pointed to the value of developing entrepreneurial mindsets and skillsets, not only for starting a new venture, but also for the psychological impact of women knowing that they can. The panelists talked about the power of simple interventions that have been shown to work, activating alumni for gender initiatives, uncovering bias in assessments, strategies for strengthening the pipeline, and more. Again, I encourage you to watch the video. I will be happy to help you reach out to the panelists if you have questions.

Panelists

Neha Agarwal, Lecturer (Assistant Professor), Department of Economics, University of Otago, New Zealand

Yvette Mucharraz y Cano, Professor of the Personal Management Area, IPADE Business School, Mexico

Kathy Korman Frey, Professorial Lecturer of Management; Director, Center For Entrepreneurial Excellence, The George Washington University School of Business, USA

Connie Gonzalez, Deputy Director, Center for Women’s Economic Empowerment (CWEE), El Salvador

Mahreen Mamoon, Assistant Professor, BRAC Business School, Bangladesh

Nicole Sutton, Senior Lecturer of Accounting, University of Technology Sydney, Australia

I want to close this blog by saying that this was a special group of panelists. Their interactions in the webinar say a lot about the GBSN community, which draws its strength from people like them who want to positively impact the world. This webinar is just one example of how GBSN creates value for participants, while engaging them in the mission. Our work often begins with events like this one, in which participants share ideas and resources, then rises to facilitating collective action. With that in mind, we look forward to seeing the community come together for GBSN Beyond 2022 in Amsterdam, 7-9 November.

Dan LeClair, CEO

Dan LeClair was named CEO of the Global Business School Network (GBSN) in February of 2019. Prior to GBSN, Dan was an Executive Vice President at AACSB International, an association and accrediting organization that serves some 1,600 business schools in more than 100 countries. His experience at AACSB includes two and half years as Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, seven years as Chief Operating Officer, and five years as Chief Knowledge Officer. A founding member of the Responsible Research in Business and Management (RRBM) initiative, Dan currently participates on its working board. He also serves in an advisory capacity to several organizations and startups in business and higher education. Before AACSB, Dan was a tenured associate professor and associate dean at The University of Tampa.

Dan played a lead role in creating a think-tank joint venture between the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) and AACSB and has been recognized for pioneering efforts in the formation of the UN’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), where he served on the Steering Committee for many years. Dan has also participated in industry-level task forces for a wide range of organizations, including the Chartered Association of Business Schools, Graduate Management Admission Council, Executive MBA Council, and Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program.

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. As a lead spokesperson for reform and innovation in management education, Dan has been frequently cited in a wide range of US and international newspapers, magazines, and professional publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, China Daily, Forbes, Fast Company, and The Economist. Dan earned a PhD from the University of Florida writing on game theory.

Improving Access to Business Education is Not Enough

Have you heard about the best-selling author and professor who is building his own business school? He’s bringing in some of his friends, other superstar business professors, to teach short, intense courses called “sprints”, which are open to anyone. These “sprints” will attract tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of learners. The venture will disrupt higher education and earn a ton of money “making elite business education accessible to all.”

I’m rooting for our education entrepreneurs and others building online education for the masses. Making business education more accessible is a good thing—the first three words in the GBSN mission are “to improve access.” The demand for management education will continue to grow beyond our capacity to provide it. Great business professors and their insights and ideas can have a profound impact on society, as well as on business and the careers of individual learners, even at scale. 

What if superstar professors could indeed reach a massive global audience? Are “MOOCs” and online “sprints” the only answers we need for our mission? Unfortunately, as I often tell the GBSN team, “if we just improve access to management education, it is not enough.” Expanding access is not sufficient to achieve our vision “for the developing world to have the talent it needs to generate prosperity” or for our mission, which is “to improve access to quality, locally relevant management education for the developing world” when written in full. 

I have written before about the challenge of local relevance. Three years ago I started my monthly blog by asking “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?” What do you think? What about Chinese managers in a glass factory in Ohio? If this question interests you, check out the documentary American Factory.

The point is that cross-border differences in business and management limit the potential of education to scale globally. Some go further and say that because of these differences, especially cultural ones, bringing education from the Global North (with technology or not) to the Global South can do more damage than good and could distract leaders from the real task of building local capacity for business and management education. 

There is another nagging question about what has been taught in business schools. GBSN was created and built on the belief that management education is critical for international development, which is about enriching lives by reducing poverty, improving health, increasing access to education, protecting the environment, and more. Yet, business education was built on a different paradigm, one in which business prioritizes profit maximization and government and NGOs are responsible for international development. As we transitioned from the MDGs to the SDGs, all societal sectors, including business, have become key development actors and need to work together. Many GBSN schools have been leading the way in rethinking curricula and partnerships for the SDGs.

That’s why so much of the GBSN agenda is about responsibility, sustainability, and ESG. Simply expanding access to what schools teach in more developed countries will not be enough to help leaders in less developed countries build more inclusive and sustainable communities. Indeed, it is possible that the reverse could be more beneficial. It is not just about access to education; part of our job now is to work with other organizations, such as EFMD and AACSB to rethink the foundations of business curricula and research to achieve our development mission. 

Much of this work is being led by GBSN Impact Communities. For example, the Business & Human Rights Impact Community has been making the case and facilitating the research needed to strengthen human rights education in business schools. The Sustainable Finance & ESG Investing Impact Community convened a Seed Course to support efforts in rethinking finance education in the Global South.

Finally, improving access to education is not enough because we also need to ensure that the work of business schools translates into meaningful international development progress. The way GBSN used to achieve its mission was through grants—we were a project-driven development organization. Now, we still do projects but can be described more as a purpose-driven network organization. This means that we must build the connective tissue between business schools, helping them to work together more effectively for international development, and between business schools and other sectors, to help business schools to lead beyond their organizations

GBSN Beyond is designed to support these two initiatives: (1) rethinking education and research to address the issues that matter for inclusive and sustainable development and (2) building the platform to support the societal impact of business schools. At the in-person conference, 7-9 November in Amsterdam, we position business schools at the nexus between business, government, and civil society, and structure sessions to help business schools work more effectively together. 

Leading up to the in-person conference, we engage student teams in the Social Logistics Challenge in which teams apply supply chain and logistics knowledge and skills to build solutions for the SDGs. We also partner with Capsim for the Micro-Simulation Development Lab and with EFMD for the Going Beyond Awards in which business schools share their work to build more inclusive and sustainable communities. 
We look forward to seeing you there. Remember, as always for GBSN Beyond, to emphasize our commitment to inclusivity and access, the base registration package includes one ticket to the in-person conference AND unlimited virtual access to both the pre-conference track experiences and the conference program for the institution’s community.

Dan LeClair, CEO

Dan LeClair was named CEO of the Global Business School Network (GBSN) in February of 2019. Prior to GBSN, Dan was an Executive Vice President at AACSB International, an association and accrediting organization that serves some 1,600 business schools in more than 100 countries. His experience at AACSB includes two and half years as Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, seven years as Chief Operating Officer, and five years as Chief Knowledge Officer. A founding member of the Responsible Research in Business and Management (RRBM) initiative, Dan currently participates on its working board. He also serves in an advisory capacity to several organizations and startups in business and higher education. Before AACSB, Dan was a tenured associate professor and associate dean at The University of Tampa.

Dan played a lead role in creating a think-tank joint venture between the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) and AACSB and has been recognized for pioneering efforts in the formation of the UN’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), where he served on the Steering Committee for many years. Dan has also participated in industry-level task forces for a wide range of organizations, including the Chartered Association of Business Schools, Graduate Management Admission Council, Executive MBA Council, and Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program.

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. As a lead spokesperson for reform and innovation in management education, Dan has been frequently cited in a wide range of US and international newspapers, magazines, and professional publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, China Daily, Forbes, Fast Company, and The Economist. Dan earned a PhD from the University of Florida writing on game theory.

Leading Beyond Our Organizations

In an HBS Podcast, Carter Roberts, President & CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) encouraged corporate leaders “to not just think about their own company, to not just think about their own footprint, but to embrace both the promise and expectation that they be a force for good in the world that goes way beyond their company.” 

What does this mean? Should our jobs as leaders really extend beyond our own organizations? And, if so, why, and how far? Is it only about being a force for good? Or is this elevation in thinking also about performance. Isn’t managing a company hard enough, especially in a corporation where my responsibility is largely to shareholders? How do we handle competing (and conflicting) interests across organizations and sectors? 

Addressing these questions from a business perspective would take a lot more experience than I’ll ever have. Luckily, we have leaders like former Unilever CEO, Paul Polman. He dedicates two chapters in his book, Net Positive, to exploring the role of business executives beyond their own companies. Chapter 6, “1+1=11,” is about collaborating within an industry or value chain to address challenges. Chapter 7 “It Takes Three to Tango” presses on the need for leadership across sectors to address the most challenging issues facing society, such as climate change and inequality. 

For now, I would like to explore the opportunities for business schools—how this simple change in thinking about business leadership can have profound implications for the work of business schools.

The views of Roberts, Polman, and many others about business leadership open new avenues for thinking differently about our curricula and what we teach. Topics like systems thinking and geopolitics can become central, rather than peripheral to business education. Thinking about our broader leadership role provides a new lens through which we can view and discuss old cases. When it comes to what we teach, Polman emphasizes the importance of “pre-competitive” strategies and long-term thinking. The key is to draw out new and meaningful insights that shape the development of new leaders.

When Indra Nooyi, former Chairman and CEO at PepsiCo, was a student at IIM Calcutta, she interned at the India’s Department of Atomic Energy. She was teamed up with a student from IIM Ahmedabad to “look at construction models of six nuclear power plants and determine which would be completed on time.” She notes in My Life in Full that she and her teammate learned “that some developed countries held back their state-of-the-art technologies from emerging markets to extract a little more return from outdated designs that were flawed and expensive.”

She wrote that the experience left her with a “sharper focus on the interdependence of business and society” and convinced her that “MBA students could play a constructive role in helping governments.” She also wrote that the experience “did not leave her encouraged about the motivations of wealthy countries toward emerging markets”—a statement particularly relevant to our work at GBSN. Nooyi went on to enter a new program at Yale linking private business with the public sector. Most will agree that her experiences with business schools were not typical at the time, or now. Part of our role at GBSN is to change the way we think about emerging economies.

In addition to redesigning business curricula, at GBSN we believe business schools (like business) play a leadership role at the nexus of business, government, and civil society. We love to see business schools engaging governments and NGOs, as well as business. More importantly, we make a difference by initiating efforts to bring those groups together. 

In thinking about the role of business and business schools, I have found the UN SDG Partnership Guidebook (2022) particularly helpful. It is a “practical guide to building high-impact multi-stakeholder partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals.” As an example, to illustrate the changing landscape, the following chart (from page 11) contrasts the underlying purposes and approaches of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 

On page 33, the guide offers the following list describing the types of resources that academia can bring to multi-stakeholder partnerships:

  • Research and analysis
  • Trusted neutral convener
  • Monitoring and evaluation capacity
  • Partnership learning and knowledge development
  • Evidence-based policy advice
  • Open Data Collection
  • Teaching / capacity building
  • Innovation development

What does this mean for how leaders of business schools think about their competitors? I wrote about this topic in last month’s blog “Are Business Schools Working Together.” I’ve been known to say to business school Deans that their job is not only to lead their organization, but also to lead an industry. My view was about their personal involvement in organizations like GBSN, which benefit from school leaders stepping up to shape the industry’s future. It was also about how they bring together competitors and other organizations in the ecosystem to benefit society.

Indeed, creating the platform for schools to work together as a force for good is GBSN’s primary role. While other organizations help each school to improve quality and be more competitive, we help schools to think beyond their individual schools, connect with each other to generate collective impact, and develop meaningful relationships across business, government, and civil society. 

These opportunities – to redefine what and how we teach, engage in our communities, and lead our business schools for inclusive and sustainable development – are at the heart of GBSN Beyond 2022, which will be our 19th annual conference. In addition to the in-person conference scheduled for November 7-9 in Amsterdam, GBSN Beyond includes separate virtual tracks for students, faculty, and leaders in business schools in the weeks prior. A single registration for the in-person event entitles your whole school to participate in the virtual activities. 

I want to draw special attention to the second annual Going Beyond Awards, a GBSN partnership with EFMD, which calls for examples of business school programs that go beyond the norm and make a big impact on the communities they serve.

Dan LeClair, CEO

Dan LeClair was named CEO of the Global Business School Network (GBSN) in February of 2019. Prior to GBSN, Dan was an Executive Vice President at AACSB International, an association and accrediting organization that serves some 1,600 business schools in more than 100 countries. His experience at AACSB includes two and half years as Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, seven years as Chief Operating Officer, and five years as Chief Knowledge Officer. A founding member of the Responsible Research in Business and Management (RRBM) initiative, Dan currently participates on its working board. He also serves in an advisory capacity to several organizations and startups in business and higher education. Before AACSB, Dan was a tenured associate professor and associate dean at The University of Tampa.

Dan played a lead role in creating a think-tank joint venture between the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) and AACSB and has been recognized for pioneering efforts in the formation of the UN’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), where he served on the Steering Committee for many years. Dan has also participated in industry-level task forces for a wide range of organizations, including the Chartered Association of Business Schools, Graduate Management Admission Council, Executive MBA Council, and Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program.

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. As a lead spokesperson for reform and innovation in management education, Dan has been frequently cited in a wide range of US and international newspapers, magazines, and professional publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, China Daily, Forbes, Fast Company, and The Economist. Dan earned a PhD from the University of Florida writing on game theory.

Are Business Schools Working Together?

“The scientists are coming together to think about moonshots. But we, in business schools, are still working separately.” said Peter Tufano when Soumitra Dutta and I interviewed him for our book, “The World After Covid”, April 2020, during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. Do you agree with him?

Of course, business schools do work together. Many have long lists of partner schools for student exchanges, support connections to scholars at other schools, collaborations to create and offer joint or dual-degree programs, share resources, and more.

Still, I agree with Professor Tufano. His point was less about whether business schools are collaborating and more about why. In my experience, most business school collaborations are driven primarily, if not exclusively, by the strategic or financial benefits to participating schools. By working together, schools believe they can strengthen degree programs, penetrate new markets, build their reputations, increase revenues, decrease costs, and publish more journal articles.

There is nothing wrong with collaborating for mutual benefit. Why else would organizations work together? Leaders should know “what’s in it for my school” before agreeing to join forces with others. 

However, the reference to “moonshots” suggests that there is something more than self-interest that brings scientists together. The term came out of the US Apollo 11 spaceflight project, which had the objective of putting the first person on the moon. Although the term originally indicated “long shot,” it is often used more generally today to describe a lofty goal. 

When I hear the word, I think of bold initiatives to solve society’s “grand challenges” and save and improve lives— unlocking our full potential to achieve the SDGs. Moonshots, I believe go beyond a single organization. They require collaboration, especially internationally. Think International Space Station and the Human Genome Project. I’ve been paying more attention to the International Cancer Genome Consortium, which aims to map the genetic impact of 50 common cancers by sequencing the DNA of cells at distinct stages in the lifecycle of a tumor. 

Though the objectives may be less tangible, we have some examples in business. When Professor Tufano was Dean of Oxford University Saïd Business School, he “walked the talk” by helping to start Business Schools for Climate Leadership in which eight European schools are currently working together to accelerate business activities towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Addressing the climate emergency is as important as putting a person on the moon, don’t you think?

And consider the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). It has become the world’s most comprehensive source of information about entrepreneurship and their ecosystems, which are as vital to building more inclusive and sustainable communities as accelerating economic growth. Perhaps it wasn’t envisioned as a moonshot when launched in 1999 by Babson College and London Business School, with a focus on 10 countries. But today with more than 300 institutions covering more than 115 countries, its potential for positive impact is huge.

The Global Business School Network was started with societal impact in mind—a vision to accelerate international development by improving access to quality, locally relevant management education. For most of our history, we pursued this vision through grant projects. Today, we also achieve it with our own programs that engage network members—their students, faculty, and leaders—in important and impactful work that drives inclusive and sustainable development. 

We have been bringing together business schools for important societal initiatives, such as building more resilient communities (Social Logistics Challenge and previous Humanitarian Logistics Challenges), steering consumer preferences to more nutritious and sustainable foods (Demand Generation Alliance), improving human rights education (Business and Human Rights Impact Community), helping SMEs in emerging economies to trade across borders (DHL GBSN GoTrade Fellowship), developing leadership skills of female entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa (Ellevate Leadership Training Programme), and more. 

Unfortunately, collaborations that focus as much on society as well as strategy are still uncommon across business schools. Perhaps that is because the culture of business education reflects the culture of business, and we’ll see more only when the “business case” is clearer. It could be because of the extraordinary influence of rankings and entrenched systems for evaluating and rewarding research. I also worry about the changing geopolitical landscape (between the US and China, for example) and its impact on academic collaboration. It is important for the management education industry to understand and address these and other potential obstacles.

This year at our signature event,  GBSN Beyond, we will explore the opportunities and difficulties of business schools working together for societal impact. We will challenge business school leaders to think not only about the difference their business school can make alone, but also about the bigger difference it can make by working together with other schools and at the nexus of business, government, and civil society. 

We invite you to join us, in-person and online, as we convene in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, November 7-9, 2022. Remember, as it has always been for GBSN Beyond, one registration to attend in person means all your colleagues and students can join us online for the Social Logistics Challenge and Micro-Simulation Development Lab, as well as the conference. 

Dan LeClair, CEO

Dan LeClair was named CEO of the Global Business School Network (GBSN) in February of 2019. Prior to GBSN, Dan was an Executive Vice President at AACSB International, an association and accrediting organization that serves some 1,600 business schools in more than 100 countries. His experience at AACSB includes two and half years as Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, seven years as Chief Operating Officer, and five years as Chief Knowledge Officer. A founding member of the Responsible Research in Business and Management (RRBM) initiative, Dan currently participates on its working board. He also serves in an advisory capacity to several organizations and startups in business and higher education. Before AACSB, Dan was a tenured associate professor and associate dean at The University of Tampa.

Dan played a lead role in creating a think-tank joint venture between the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) and AACSB and has been recognized for pioneering efforts in the formation of the UN’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), where he served on the Steering Committee for many years. Dan has also participated in industry-level task forces for a wide range of organizations, including the Chartered Association of Business Schools, Graduate Management Admission Council, Executive MBA Council, and Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program.

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. As a lead spokesperson for reform and innovation in management education, Dan has been frequently cited in a wide range of US and international newspapers, magazines, and professional publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, China Daily, Forbes, Fast Company, and The Economist. Dan earned a PhD from the University of Florida writing on game theory.

EdTech and the GBSN Mission

There is a scene late in the movie Her where the main character Theodore, played by Joaquin Phoenix, is nervously questioning Samantha, his AI-based operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson. By then, Theodore had fallen in love with Samantha, who was designed to learn about and serve him, claimed to love him too. 

In the scene, Theodore was anxious and concerned, doubtful about their relationship. Was Samantha also having intimate conversations with other people? Was she also in love with them? Theodore had to ask. 

Being sensitive to Theodore’s feelings, Samantha was hesitant to answer. Finally, she admits to having similar conversations with other people. How many? 8,316, at that moment. Worse, breaking Theodore’s heart, she admits to being in love with 641 of them. You can watch the minute-and-a-half scene here.

I know, it’s science fiction. But still, it was a meaningful moment for me, and shaped my view of the future of management education. I thought to myself, “If technology can scale empathy and love, then surely education would have no limits.” I could envision management education that’s not only accessible to everyone, but is also individualized, inspirational, and immersive. 

Nearly a decade has passed since I first watched Her. Since then, I moved from AACSB to lead the Global Business School Network (GBSN). Conversations about education technology at AACSB often revolved around whether it will disrupt the industry. It was easy to believe that we wouldn’t need as many business schools, or teachers for that matter, in the future.

However, as I moved to GBSN, I was more excited about how advances in education technology can support our mission “to improve access to quality, locally relevant management education for the developing world.” We were built on the belief that access to management education is essential to international development. Technology, I thought, will be the key. I quickly learned about some of the challenges. 

Of course, my enthusiasm has been partially curbed by the realities of the digital divide. Access to the Internet, especially broadband, is hardly universal. According to the Internet Communications Union (ITU), “an estimated 37 per cent of the world’s population – or 2.9 billion people – have still never used the Internet” and “of the 2.9 billion still offline, an estimated 96 per cent live in developing countries.” 

I also began to realize that my basic ideas about education technology were less relevant to the mission of GBSN. When considering the potential for education technology, it was easy for me to think of education as a product. It is about curating the best content, packaging it, and delivering it to customers. The key is that once a digital product is created, the marginal cost of adding another user is very small or zero. I also understood the basics of network models in which subscriber benefits grew as the number of users increased. Economics was the dominant driver in my edtech thinking.

Our international development work at GBSN caused me to think differently. Sure, our mission is about access to education; educating, empowering, and enabling individuals in emerging economies, but our mission is also about helping their communities grow and thrive. I sometimes say that at GBSN our programs need to prioritize the development of places as much as the people.

The reality is that business and the practice of management and entrepreneurship remain largely contextual. Conditions (e.g., economic, regulatory, cultural, technological) vary enormously across geographies. Of course, a substantial part of the content (i.e., theories, models, techniques, etc.) in business education can be universally or globally beneficial without much adaptation. But the application of that content is fundamentally shaped by the context. As an example, imagine a course on starting a business. Although general concepts, such as the sources of value, might be useful anywhere, the way those concepts play out depend on economic and regulatory factors, access to talent, financing, and security, and numerous other local factors. 

I have come to believe that unless we start locally, with the conviction that management education ought to positively impact community development. It will be difficult to realize the full potential of education technology. Education for development is not only about providing access to global content, but also about building the capacity to generate locally relevant ideas, experiences, and developing the tools and skills of local scholars to produce them. That is why we offer faculty development programs, run the Micro-Simulation Development Lab with Capsim, partner with Gnowbe to provide faculty scholarships for their micro-Learning Instructional design certification program, and build collaborative models that enable local institutions to create additional value around globally distributed digital content.

When the overarching objective is to build communities, the focus of education technology also shifts, connecting learners to share ideas and co-create knowledge—and building the social capital that drives innovation and development. That’s why we run the Africa Business Concept Challenge and Humanitarian Logistics Challenge—to bring together a global community to help learners generate local solutions. Another example is the GoTrade Fellowship Program which we created with Deutsche Post DHL to connect selected, post-graduate business students to SME leaders in developing countries. 
Don’t misunderstand, I’m still excited about the potential for education technology to increase access, improve quality, and reduce costs. After all, the greatest challenge in education is to do things that work and are accessible. But as we move forward, I believe that the real gains and positive impacts for economic and social development will come from investments in local management education capacity, capabilities, and connections. In the end, EdTech shouldn’t put local schools out of business, it should strengthen them and enable them to make a bigger difference in the communities they serve.

Dan LeClair, CEO

Dan LeClair was named CEO of the Global Business School Network (GBSN) in February of 2019. Prior to GBSN, Dan was an Executive Vice President at AACSB International, an association and accrediting organization that serves some 1,600 business schools in more than 100 countries. His experience at AACSB includes two and half years as Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, seven years as Chief Operating Officer, and five years as Chief Knowledge Officer. A founding member of the Responsible Research in Business and Management (RRBM) initiative, Dan currently participates on its working board. He also serves in an advisory capacity to several organizations and startups in business and higher education. Before AACSB, Dan was a tenured associate professor and associate dean at The University of Tampa.

Dan played a lead role in creating a think-tank joint venture between the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) and AACSB and has been recognized for pioneering efforts in the formation of the UN’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), where he served on the Steering Committee for many years. Dan has also participated in industry-level task forces for a wide range of organizations, including the Chartered Association of Business Schools, Graduate Management Admission Council, Executive MBA Council, and Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program.

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. As a lead spokesperson for reform and innovation in management education, Dan has been frequently cited in a wide range of US and international newspapers, magazines, and professional publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, China Daily, Forbes, Fast Company, and The Economist. Dan earned a PhD from the University of Florida writing on game theory.

What Are Business Schools Built For?

A very long time ago, I welcomed students to my MBA course with a Peter Senge story. The influential author of The Fifth Discipline, I told the students, would ask participants in his workshops to, “imagine your organization is an ocean liner and that you are the leader.” Then he would ask, “what is your role?”

As Senge explained in the MIT Sloan Management Review, the most common answer was of course “the captain.” But some people would point to the helmsman, who controls the direction; the engineer, who provides the energy; the social director, who is responsible for making sure everyone is engaged; and others.

Rarely, according to Senge, did anyone mention the role of the ship’s designer. Drawing attention to the oversight, he would suggest “what good does it do for the captain to say, ‘turn starboard 30 degrees,’ when the designer has built a rudder that will only turn to port, or which takes six hours to turn to starboard?”

I used the story to introduce my course on managerial economics, which addressed the architecture of organizations as well as structure of markets. Instead of treating the firm as a black box—an efficient profit-maximizing machine—we tried to get inside the organization and understand the systems and processes from an economics point of view. We talked about incentive compensation and decentralizing decision rights, of course, but we also spent time with job design, recruitment, ethics, and leadership. We applied game theory models and insights from behavioral economics, which were already finding their way into other disciplines.

Of course, organizations are not exactly designed by architects and engineers like buildings and ships. Organizations are social structures and shaped over time through the policies and actions of managers. Managers are designers of their future organizations, as in the scary expression, “we are building the airplane while flying it.” Senge’s point (at least one of his points) was that leaders should be more conscious and purposeful about this role.

Corporate leaders have come to appreciate the importance of organizational architecture, especially of aligning it with strategy. One reason is that the shelf life of a strategic plan has diminished considerably as the environment has become more dynamic and volatile. Many experts now say that the role of the strategic leader boils down to identifying and building the organization’s most important capabilities.

Now, what if we were to ask business school leaders the Senge question. What would they say? My hope is that more will offer “the ship’s designer” as a result of reading this blog.

More than ever, we need to be purposeful about building the architecture of business schools. During my time at AACSB, I was the staff point person for the Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) on Accreditation Quality charged with developing the 2013 Standards. For the first time in AACSB’s long history, the standards were released with a tagline. It consisted of three words: engagement, innovation, and impact. These three words later became the foundation for AACSB’s current mission, which is “to foster engagement, accelerate innovation, and amplify impact in business education.”

Yes, it was duly noted—the word “quality” wasn’t part of the tagline. For an accrediting body, that was a big step. The best business schools were built on well-established conceptions of quality and now aspire to go beyond. How do they transform for engagement, innovation, and impact? Here are a few basic questions to get started.

What jobs does my business school need? Going beyond requires new leadership roles. I have been excited to find more GBSN schools with Chief Innovation Officers and Associate Deans for Research Impact. The Gies College of Business has an Associate Dean for Innovation, who also is the Chief Disruption Officer. Sasin School of Management in Thailand has a Chief Impact Officer who is also Head of Accreditation. Directors of external relations are becoming chief engagement officers and instructional designers are becoming experience makers.

Does my business school have the right systems? Are faculty, for example, evaluated and rewarded for impact? What about for the type of engagement that leads to innovation? How important is fit for culture in faculty recruitment processes? In GBSN’s Impact Communities, I have been impressed by the number of scholars who are more interested in the difference they can make than the article they can publish. Their schools are leading the way in building powerful cultures of impact.

Is my business school measuring the things that matter? The financial models of business schools, especially university-based ones, have never been all that clear and sometimes create outcomes inconsistent with the school’s mission. For example, some schools might over-emphasize foreign students because they generate more income than local ones, even if the mission is largely focused on local jobs and communities. In higher education, we also tend to conflate “quality” with “selectivity” and “salaries.” How does that play out for schools that are Going Beyond.

Of course, this list of questions is not comprehensive or new to many of us in business education. I suggest, however, that we need to be bolder and faster in addressing them. Doing so won’t be easy. It is not difficult to feel powerless to change a system when it has been built over centuries or if it puts my school at a disadvantage relative to others. Change in higher education can also feel extremely complicated. After all, few other organizations have the breadth of stakeholders (students, alumni, donors, faculty, community leaders, recruiters, etc.) with conflicting perspectives. Regardless, it is time to elevate our role as designers in leading business schools, and the business education industry, for the future.

Dan LeClair, CEO

Dan LeClair was named CEO of the Global Business School Network (GBSN) in February of 2019. Prior to GBSN, Dan was an Executive Vice President at AACSB International, an association and accrediting organization that serves some 1,600 business schools in more than 100 countries. His experience at AACSB includes two and half years as Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, seven years as Chief Operating Officer, and five years as Chief Knowledge Officer. A founding member of the Responsible Research in Business and Management (RRBM) initiative, Dan currently participates on its working board. He also serves in an advisory capacity to several organizations and startups in business and higher education. Before AACSB, Dan was a tenured associate professor and associate dean at The University of Tampa.

Dan played a lead role in creating a think-tank joint venture between the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) and AACSB and has been recognized for pioneering efforts in the formation of the UN’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), where he served on the Steering Committee for many years. Dan has also participated in industry-level task forces for a wide range of organizations, including the Chartered Association of Business Schools, Graduate Management Admission Council, Executive MBA Council, and Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program.

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. As a lead spokesperson for reform and innovation in management education, Dan has been frequently cited in a wide range of US and international newspapers, magazines, and professional publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, China Daily, Forbes, Fast Company, and The Economist. Dan earned a PhD from the University of Florida writing on game theory.

To Change the World, Let’s Change the Way We See It

“What do the three exhibits in the figure below have in common?” That is one of many interesting questions posed by Daniel Kahneman in Thinking Fast and Slow, which brought together decades of research by the author, Amos Tversky, and many others. I have been recommending the book to practicing managers since it was published about 10 years ago.

Most people will immediately see that the exhibit on the left contains a sequence of letters (A, B, C) and the one on the right contains a sequence of numbers (12, 13, 14). Fewer people will notice initially that the shapes in the middle in both exhibits are identical. We tend to see that shape as a B when it is among letters and as a 13 when it is among numbers. 

“As for Ann,” Kahneman writes, “you probably imagined a woman with money on her mind, walking toward a building with tellers and secure vaults.” We only need to pause for a moment to imagine another possibility. Although I haven’t done the research, I suspect it might be less likely for business students to see the non-financial alternative.

What we initially see is shaped by the context and our previous experiences. That can be helpful. We need System 1 thinking, as Kahneman calls it, because it is fast and intuitive, and requires less energy. However, at times, and more often than we realize, it is important and useful to kick into System 2 thinking, which is slower and more deliberate, to avoid common errors in judgment or bias.

“Business schools provide a powerful lens through which to view the world. I believe it is one of the main reasons why business school graduates are hired — to generate innovation and growth in markets. It helps scholars to communicate and generate new insights. It supports a global language of commerce.”

But what does it mean when business schools are trying to emphasize ESG and sustainability? I worry that we don’t leave enough room for different ways of viewing the challenges and opportunities facing business and society. It is great to hear about “the business case” for sustainability and the incredible $12 trillion market opportunity provided by the SDGs. Yet, the market lens doesn’t seem nearly enough to generate the progress we need. If we want to change the world, we must begin to look at it differently.

I was reminded about this last week when I visited the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego. In conversations about the connection between business and peace, I was quick to assert that private sector job creation is the answer— perhaps even, a panacea for conflict-prone areas. My hosts convinced me, however, that it is much more complex in most situations, and that it is possible for business and job-creation programs to do more harm than good (e.g., by disrupting an already fragile social structure). 

I also gained new insights from how they approach leadership development, learned about critical differences in approaches by peacemakers, humanitarians, and development professionals, and heard from students in the Master of Arts in Social Innovation program. Some said they could not envision developing their ideas and aspirations to make a difference within the business programs they had considered. These were useful insights, and I left San Diego convinced that all of us must work harder to see things differently.

Doing so won’t be easy. Take the typical MBA curriculum, for example. There is little or no room to add new courses, and increasingly learners want programs to be even shorter. Curriculum revision can be a stressful and highly politicized process. But change doesn’t have to require new courses. We can create opportunities for students to see things differently by building more diverse cohorts, using cases studies from different fields (or simply talking about our existing cases differently), and employing simulations and other experiential exercises that call out opportunities to view problems from multiple perspectives.

Sometimes it is just about backing up and taking a bigger, broader view. A long time ago I learned about something called Troxler Fade, which can be demonstrated by staring at a dot in the middle of a circle. If you stare directly at the dot long enough and intently enough, eventually your brain will no longer register the circle. Try it here. Similarly, our narrow focus on organizations and markets can cause us to lose sight of the broader system and miss opportunities for positive change. We want leaders in business (and business schools) who see well beyond their organizations and industries, and address larger systemic issues in ways that strengthen relationships across sectors. As I always say to GBSN member ambassadors, “your job is not just to lead a school, but also to lead an industry.”

At GBSN, our mission, “to improve access to quality, locally relevant management and entrepreneurship education” explicitly recognizes the importance of context and the myriad factors shaping business in any country or region. Our belief is that business education plays an integral role in transforming communities and countries for the common good. To achieve that, we must build programs that enable participants to view business through different lenses and improve the systems in which businesses operate. After all, the form of capitalism is not static. In any country, it is a dynamic ever-changing system. 

To see the world differently, we purposefully build events and programs to bring together participants from across disciplines and sectors, as well as across borders. It is also why GBSN believes network strength comes as much from the diversity of its members, as it does from how many members there are and how connected they are with each other.

So, whether it involves building or transforming business education, if our main objective is to foster inclusive and sustainable development, we must do more to embrace different points of view and schools of thought. The market lens may be enough to produce graduates who go to work in the existing system, but it will not be enough to enable and empower graduates who want to change it.

Dan LeClair, CEO

Dan LeClair was named CEO of the Global Business School Network (GBSN) in February of 2019. Prior to GBSN, Dan was an Executive Vice President at AACSB International, an association and accrediting organization that serves some 1,600 business schools in more than 100 countries. His experience at AACSB includes two and half years as Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, seven years as Chief Operating Officer, and five years as Chief Knowledge Officer. A founding member of the Responsible Research in Business and Management (RRBM) initiative, Dan currently participates on its working board. He also serves in an advisory capacity to several organizations and startups in business and higher education. Before AACSB, Dan was a tenured associate professor and associate dean at The University of Tampa.

Dan played a lead role in creating a think-tank joint venture between the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) and AACSB and has been recognized for pioneering efforts in the formation of the UN’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), where he served on the Steering Committee for many years. Dan has also participated in industry-level task forces for a wide range of organizations, including the Chartered Association of Business Schools, Graduate Management Admission Council, Executive MBA Council, and Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program.

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. As a lead spokesperson for reform and innovation in management education, Dan has been frequently cited in a wide range of US and international newspapers, magazines, and professional publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, China Daily, Forbes, Fast Company, and The Economist. Dan earned a PhD from the University of Florida writing on game theory.

Two New Forces Shaping the Globalization of Management Education

“Finally, a global business school goes local.” About 15 years ago that was my reply to a reporter when she asked me about a new program by well-known US business school. Funded by an alumnus, the program was to connect MBA student teams to small businesses in the economically distressed neighborhood surrounding school. I tried to explain the subtly of my statement (and that many lesser-known schools had similar programs for many years). Needless to say, I wasn’t quoted in the story.

I’ve thought about that call several times over the last couple of years. Could the covid pandemic cause business schools to pull back from globalization in the long term? After all, internationally mobile students and faculty have always been the lifeblood of globalization in higher education, and both dropped precipitously during the pandemic. At the same time, I’ve seen first-hand how much business schools have been doing for local businesses throughout the pandemic, not only to survive but also to #buildbackbetter.

I don’t think we are seeing the end of globalization. Not at all. In business, I believe the process of globalization will continue marching forward despite the setbacks of recent years. Simply put, there still is too much untapped value. That said, I believe the underlying sources of value have been changing and impacting the way businesses—and business schools—think about globalization. I want to call attention to two such changes that have been particularly important to our work at the Global Business School Network.

Like many other things today, the first change has been driven by advances in technology. In business, globalization has long centered on large multinational companies and their global supply chains. Scale and efficiency were key drivers and technology played an important role. Today, newer technological advances are empowering small and medium-sized businesses to also trade across borders. Relatively new developments, such as smart phones, 3D printing, (exponentially growing) e-commerce platforms, and the emergence of AI, new financial models, and blockchain applications, are leveling the playing field and unlocking the potential of SME’s in a global marketplace.

In addition to educating global supply chain professionals for large corporations, many business schools are focusing on empowering local entrepreneurs and scaling small businesses, helping them to grow by looking beyond their borders for customers and suppliers, navigating the regulations, dealing with cultural differences, and more. Similarly, business scholars are generating new insights to inform these businesses as well as the policies that affect them. Success means more inclusive globalization.

This new globalization requires a different set of approaches. Business schools need to create (and facilitate) new types of international connections, prepare different types of learners with new international experiences, and build new research methods and agendas. Some business schools are going beyond and facilitating access to necessary financial resources and infrastructure, such as more secure Internet and maker labs.

For its part, GBSN is partnering with Deutsche Post DHL to enable and empower SMEs in developing countries for cross-border commerce. In the pilot phase, GBSN has been working with 13 of its member schools to match 25 inaugural GoTrade Fellows to SME leaders in Cameroon, Uganda, Ecuador, and Colombia. The Fellows and SME leaders will participate together in a learning journey, as well as work together to build cross-border trade. Without much publicity, we received 100 applications for the 25 slots!

The second change impacting the globalization of management education is the urgency regarding climate change and social justice, as well as other challenges reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals. As business schools move beyond shareholder primacy to drive action on the SDGs, they’ve begun to think differently about globalization. Only a decade ago, my conversations with deans about globalization were mostly focused narrowly on competitive positioning, revenue generation, and reputation building. When schools partnered with others across borders, it was all about the strategy—it was about collaborating to compete.

By collaborating across borders on climate change (see, for example, Business Schools for Climate Leadership), we can improve our research and increase our influence. By partnering to provide our students with meaningful learning experiences in other countries, we can motivate more of them to pursue careers in government or NGOs. By connecting across sectors, we help our students to take a broader view of the whole system when addressing business challenges.

Today, my conversations about globalization are more often about the positive impact on society.

GBSN is connecting schools from different countries with business and NGOs for collective action on challenging societal issues. For example, we’re partnering with Ecobank Transnational and academic members to empower women-led SMEs in across Africa. We’re working with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) to improve anti-corruption and compliance training in Indonesia and Nigeria. And we are collaborating with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WCBSD) to build the Demand Generation Alliance to steer consumer preferences towards more nutritious and sustainable foods.

The two changes discussed above are expanding, rather than contracting, the need for global business education and research. From a career development perspective, cross-cultural agility is a skill no longer reserved for the set of graduates who go to work in multinational organizations—or private for-profit organizations for that matter. Business founders need to understand the changing context and emerging opportunities in order to succeed.

We still need student and faculty mobility but are beginning to see it in a different light, as a means to an end rather than the end itself, and to understand how technology can create more value from travel. By leveraging digital platforms to build more internationally inclusive research labs and classrooms we can develop better, more innovations solutions to global challenges—and do it with a smaller carbon footprint.

It’s not the end of globalization we are witnessing, but rather the beginning of a new era, a more responsible one that enables business schools to be a stronger force for good. The new globalization places business schools at the nexus of business, government, and civil society and positions them to play a leadership role in alleviating poverty, taking climate action, improving global health, protecting human rights, and more.


Dan LeClair, CEO

Global Business School Network

Dan LeClair was named CEO of the Global Business School Network (GBSN) in February of 2019. Prior to GBSN, Dan was an Executive Vice President at AACSB International, an association and accrediting organization that serves some 1,600 business schools in more than 100 countries. His experience at AACSB includes two and half years as Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, seven years as Chief Operating Officer, and five years as Chief Knowledge Officer.

A founding member of the Responsible Research in Business and Management (RRBM) initiative, Dan currently participates on its working board. He also serves in an advisory capacity to several organizations and startups in business and higher education. Before AACSB, Dan was a tenured associate professor and associate dean at The University of Tampa.

Dan played a lead role in creating a think-tank joint venture between the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) and AACSB and has been recognized for pioneering efforts in the formation of the UN’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), where he served on the Steering Committee for many years. Dan has also participated in industry-level task forces for a wide range of organizations, including the Chartered Association of Business Schools, Graduate Management Admission Council, Executive MBA Council, and Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program.

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. As a lead spokesperson for reform and innovation in management education, Dan has been frequently cited in a wide range of US and international newspapers, magazines, and professional publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, China Daily, Forbes, Fast Company, and The Economist.

Dan earned a PhD from the University of Florida writing on game theory.

Connecting Across Sectors for Greater Impact: Welcome to GBSN Beyond

What does a former President of Malawi have in common with the VP for Talent and Development at Amazon Web Services, former Chief Operational Risk Officer of the World Bank, Head of Human and Child Rights at the Ingka (formerly Ikea) Group, and the VP for Social Impact at Visa CAMEA? They all are keynote speakers at the GBSN Beyond Virtual Conference starting next week. See the full list of remarkable speakers here.  

You can see from the agenda that GBSN Beyond is no ordinary conference in the business education space. Speakers come from business, civil society, and government, as well as academia because we believe innovation and impact occurs at the intersection of different perspective and that business schools are much more powerful forces of good when they are connected across sectors. You’ll also see considerable international diversity amongst the speakers, with as many coming from Africa, Asia-Pacific, and South America, as from Europe and the United State. But please don’t be misled by all the diversity. Although they operate in different sectors and geographic contexts, everyone participating in Beyond shares GBSN’s vision for the developing world to have the talent it needs to generate inclusive and sustainable prosperity.

In addition to a large number of sessions exploring the role and impact of business schools, the agenda addresses some of the most challenging issues facing society, especially in areas such as climate, health, and human rights. Conference sessions are organized into clusters in the diagram below, showing that there is something for any business school leader, professor, and student interested in making a difference. And there are a number of networking events and other experiences available on the platform.

Please join us for the event, November 15-17, even it is just for a few sessions. Individual seats are still available and, of course, it is open to everyone—students, faculty, and staff—at institutions that have registered to participate. Register here if you haven’t already.

For GBSN, Beyond is much more than a virtual conference. We started it last year with two major objectives:

  1. to be more inclusive than we could in our regular face-to-face events and
  2. to actually do things that move the needle on our mission “to improve access to quality, locally relevant management and entrepreneurship education for the developing world”

More than 1,000 people representing more than 100 institutions across nearly 40 countries have already registered to participate in this year’s GBSN Beyond. Participants will come from places like Papua New Guinea and Haiti, as well as Nigeria, China, France, Brazil, and the United States.

Regarding action, GBSN Beyond includes a series of experiences across three tracks. The HUMLOG Challenge sponsored by the Hanken School of Economics brings together student teams to improve community disaster resilience. Learn more about the six finalists here. Our Faculty Micro-Simulation Development Lab with Capsim supports teams of professors working together to build micro-simulations for future classroom use everywhere.

Finally, this year with EFMD we have convened the first-ever Going Beyond Awards to engage business schools in reflecting on their community impact. We are in the final judging stages for each of these tracks and invite everyone to check out all the great submissions and celebrate the winners during the awards ceremony on Wednesday, November 17.

GBSN Beyond is also an opportunity to experiment with new ideas for achieving our mission. This year we worked closely with Universidad de Los Andes for an initiative called Race2Imagine. We connected them with Miami-Herbert Business School, Thunderbird-School of Global Management, and the Geneva School of Economics and Management to convene a three-part series of conversations on health, climate, and human rights, respectively. The conversations featured local impact stories by students and faculty, as well as experts on the subjects. Learn more about Race2Imagine here.

Planning the series of events and experiences of GBSN Beyond takes a lot of work and support. We are thankful for the generous support of our fantastic sponsors and a small army of volunteers, including many experts from around the world who served as coaches and judges in our various challenges. And, I can’t say enough about the fantastic GBSN Team who always go Beyond to assist the whole GBSN community to make a positive difference in society.


Dan LeClair, CEO, Global Business School Network

Dan LeClair was named CEO of the Global Business School Network (GBSN) in February of 2019. Prior to GBSN, Dan was an Executive Vice President at AACSB International, an association and accrediting organization that serves some 1,600 business schools in more than 100 countries. His experience at AACSB includes two and half years as Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, seven years as Chief Operating Officer, and five years as Chief Knowledge Officer.

A founding member of the Responsible Research in Business and Management (RRBM) initiative, Dan currently participates on its working board. He also serves in an advisory capacity to several organizations and startups in business and higher education. Before AACSB, Dan was a tenured associate professor and associate dean at The University of Tampa.

Dan played a lead role in creating a think-tank joint venture between the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) and AACSB and has been recognized for pioneering efforts in the formation of the UN’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), where he served on the Steering Committee for many years. Dan has also participated in industry-level task forces for a wide range of organizations, including the Chartered Association of Business Schools, Graduate Management Admission Council, Executive MBA Council, and Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program.

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. As a lead spokesperson for reform and innovation in management education, Dan has been frequently cited in a wide range of US and international newspapers, magazines, and professional publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, China Daily, Forbes, Fast Company, and The Economist.

Dan earned a PhD from the University of Florida writing on game theory.

Celebrating the Spirit of GBSN Beyond

Nine years ago I read about a $150 million gift to start an innovation center at Stanford University. What’s special about an innovation center in Silicon Valley? Well, the gift was specifically to alleviate poverty by creating the Stanford Institute for Innovation for Developing Economies. The institute, known as Stanford Seed, would bring together scholars across the campus but would be housed in Stanford Graduate School of Business.

It makes a lot of sense now. After all, the motto of Stanford GSB is “Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world” and Stanford Seed is now a member of the Global Business School Network (GBSN). But the announcement surprised me at the time and had a major influence on my thinking about business schools. In fact, there have been many such moments throughout my career that contributed to my beliefs and, ultimately, influenced my views about the mission and direction of GBSN.

Sometimes it’s about getting an inside view of what business schools do. It has been a privilege in my career to have daily conversations about the amazing work of leading business schools. I recall my first meeting with the leadership team at Hanken School of Economics and learning for the first time about the school’s global leadership in humanitarian logistics and how important that has been during the covid pandemic. In a recent meeting with the leadership team at Leeds University Business School, I could feel the incredible power of inspiring and enabling an academic staff of over 200 people, and connecting them across disciplines within the school and across institution to address global challenges that can enable business to be more sustainable. I was in a conference room in MIT Sloan’s Global Programs office, when an introduction to MIT REAP transformed my thinking about executive and experiential education, illustrating how innovative such approaches can be and how such programs can impact a whole community and not just an individual or organization.

I’ve learned throughout my career by working closely with schools, experiencing their people, culture, and commitment. My first time in Egypt, in the Moataz Al-Alfi Hall on the new campus of the American University in Cairo, I was struck by the importance and depth of cross-sectoral dialogue in the anniversary business forum I participated in. In another context, I recall meeting Michaela Ranken of Monash Business School for the first time because she traveled from Melbourne to Mumbai to voluntarily contribute to our experiential learning workshop for Indian professors. I remember the unbridled enthusiasm of the remarkable student team from Universidad de Los Andes who took the top prize in our first HUMLOG Challenge.

It’s not just the universities and business schools in the higher education ecosystem. I remember hosting a team from Capsim and having a creative discussion about their Inbox product. I learned from the meeting that we need to take steps to teach and enable, with authoring tools for example, professors to build more interactive experiences for learners.

With more than two decades working in business education globally, I could have listed many more examples. But all of the organizations I highlighted have something in common; they are high-level sponsors of GBSN Beyond. Sure, it is one way to say thank you—to demonstrate our appreciation for “Going Beyond” in their contribution to our mission.

These organizations embody the spirit of GBSN Beyond. They reflect the culture and commitment of GBSN to its mission “to improve access to quality, locally-relevant management and entrepreneurship education.” But as the examples illustrate, the organizations not only embody the spirit of GBSN Beyond, they helped to create it. And they live that spirit—part of their sponsorship commitment enables schools from lower income countries to participate in Beyond.

You see, GBSN Beyond is about breaking boundaries, paving new territory for business education. It’s about the work of business schools across sectors—at nexus of business, government and civil society. It’s about being inclusive of a wide range of schools in the Global South as well as Global North. It means connecting globally to make a positive impact locally.

The spirit of GBSN Beyond is embedded in the core experiences we’re providing. From the student HUMLOG Challenge offered with Hanken to the faculty Microsimulation Development Lab with Capsim. You’ll see the spirit written into the criteria for our Going Beyond Awards, which we’re initiating with EFMD. And you’ll see it in the fantastic program featuring a diverse set of leaders from academia and beyond, including organizations such as Visa, Amazon Web Services, and Deutsche Post DHL to name a few, all addressing our core themes related to advancing climate action, health, human rights, and humanitarian logistics, as well as the transformative role of business schools.

Finally, and most importantly, the spirit of GBSN Beyond is embodied by the participants in GBSN. We already have nearly 60 schools from more than 30 countries signed up to engage their students, faculty, and leaders in the core experiences and virtual conference. They are the stars of Beyond, creating new insights and solutions, building bridges across borders and sectors and disciplines.

If GBSN Beyond reflects the purpose and spirit of your school, we would love to have you. Register here. If, like the schools mentioned above, send me a message.


Dan LeClair, CEO

Dan LeClair is CEO of the Global Business School Network (GBSN). 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. As a lead spokesperson for reform and innovation in management education, Dan has been frequently cited in a wide range of US and international newspapers, magazines, and professional publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, China Daily, Forbes, Fast Company, and The Economist.

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