The 6th International Business School Shanghai Conference IBSS was hosted by Antai College, the world-class business school of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, built 120 years ago.
This conference that takes place every two years attracts business-leading educators from around the world, in order to expand their network and share their best practices. International accreditation institutions such as EFMD, AACSB and AMBA were all present as facilitators of the huge business education global network.
Prestigious speakers took part in the conference, such as the Dean of Yale School of Management, the Dean of HEC Paris, the Dean of ESCP Europe, the Dean of Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and many other Deans from famous universities from Asia and from different parts of the world.
Different topics related to Technology and Management were tackled. The speakers talked about the impact of technology on management education and the way a business school should respond to these changes, by giving several examples of business schools that lead in this trend. Technology has made the world flat, and this flatness offers opportunities, through Technology and Globalization. Actually, these two are linked and are the two main reasons why a business school is either in the digital world or out of the race.
However, technology is also a threat because there are new entrants that may be partners today but competitors tomorrow, such as the online courses developers (ex: Coursera), company’s academies, and also consulting firms that are moving to the education business. Actually, these firms are offering a holistic approach from organizational diagnosis, to consulting services, including designing tailor-made training programs, delivering the training and coaching the teams…
Caught between virtualization and corporatization, the business schools have to find a new positioning. The competition linked to the digital disruption should be balanced by an added value of the face-to-face teaching. Real contact hour sessions should be a transformative experience, an exclusive one that cannot happen remotely.
Most participants agreed that executive education, that became an important part of the business model of the business schools, offers an experimentation field for digitalization. Faced with resistance, administrators can put the seed in executive education, than transfer successful experiences to academic programs. Actually, there is a paradox: It seems like Innovation is not an easy task in business schools, although it is theoretically taught as a key factor of success. We are still in avery conservative environment, while we have to face a quicker evolution of the market place and companies needs.
Anyway, sooner or later, academic programs will have to go through the experience of blended-learning, because we either disrupt ourselves or we get disrupted. There is no way we can stay conservative in this VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous). For a teacher, that shift means moving from stage to screen. The role of the business school is also changing from delivering knowledge to facilitating the development of the mind set of the students, taking into account these shifts and opportunities. We are even moving from creating knowledge to co-creating it with the students themselves. They become involved and take charge of their self-education.
This idea of co-creating is particularly relevant when it comes to executive education. It is amazing how leading companies and business schools can work together to co-create, co-design and even co-deliver customized training programs. Executive education is now expected to enhance a cultural and organizational change; that’s why it needs to be a “joint project”, involving both the company and the business school input and talents. It is not a one-way process.
Another future collaboration path is to be developed between business schools and engineering schools. As there is a closer connection between business operations and technological tools, employers nowadays are keen on hiring employees with both technical and managerial skills. This is also true when it comes to group entrepreneurial endeavors. On the one hand, engineering students can design new products and manufacturing processes. On the other hand, business students can get market information, promote the product and get it to the customer at the right place, at the right time, at the right price. Therefore, the intersection between business schools and engineering schools are unavoidably increasing.
Actually, the business schools environment in general is a collaborative one. And this is why it is not uncommon for business schools to join management education associations such as EFMD, AACSB, AMBA etc. Besides their accreditation system, opportunities for networking, tutoring, corporate connections are of considerable value to business schools. These organizations position themselves as business education intelligence services providers, facilitators of globalization shifts and catalyzers for innovation in management education. They are also considered as enablers for global prosperity by including ethics and corporate social responsibility as inclusive assessment criteria.
As Groupe ISCAE was the only African business school present at the conference, we have raised two questions that caught the attention of the participants and created debate:
1-Lately, many famous international business schools went global by entering markets with huge potential of development such as Africa, by using their own brands.These brand names might or might not mean a lot to locals, especially that it doesn’t offer the same premium quality as in the original location. It is usually “second class” programs, less selective than the flagship ones. Wouldn’t it be more relevant to rather partner with local well-established local business schools that already have the field experience? In what specific segment this partnership would really work, academic programs or executive ones?
What would be the added value?
2-African business schools have difficult access to international accreditations because most of the selective schools are state owned. On the one hand, the budgets are tight. On the other hand, the demand for those schools exceeds the offer, so their priority is to keep quality rather than to go through an expensive and time-consuming international accreditation process. Considering that, how can the global management education associations adapt to these particularities? Is there any other ways of assessing those business schools, such as their recognition and alumni positions in their local markets? There must be a correlation between the schools reputation locally and its access or not to international accreditations.
In conclusion, all speakers, panelists and participants agreed on the fact that the future business school evolution will be entrepreneurial teaching,digital learning and government regulations will have to adapt. It will have to accompany the new global business model (Executive Education as an unavoidable source of revenue) and the need of innovative curricula and practical teaching…