New report seeks to create a world view of management education

Editor’s note: the globalization of higher education can be conceived of as a complex of processes shaped and mediated by a myriad of people, institutions, networks, technologies, events, and structural forces. In GlobalHigherEd we have been welcoming guest entries from key actors associated with the globalization process, including representatives of universities, stakeholder associations, and the like. The logic behind guest entries is to let key actors speak for themselves versus us speaking on their behalf. Guest entries in an open access blog like this also enable actors to reach new audiences, and create new forms of thinking and dialogue about issues we are all concerned about, even though there are inevitably varying viewpoints and points of consensus on such issues.

On this note, today’s guest entry has been kindly produced by representatives of the Global Foundation for Management Education (GFME), a joint venture between the two largest associations of business schools, the US-based Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), and the Belgium-based European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD). The GFME aims to identify and address challenges and opportunities in the practice of management education worldwide, and also to advance its quality and content. The GFME is focused on thought leadership and collaboration rather than on accreditation, and seeks to collaborate and cooperate with organizations and individuals throughout the world, recognizing the cultural aspects and sensitivities of its global constituency.

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Growth in higher education around the world has been nothing short of significant in recent years, with tertiary education enrollments growing 94.1 percent between 1991 and 2004 according to UNESCO statistics. While the growth in higher education enrollments encompasses a variety of programs and disciplines, evidence suggests that growth in the demand for business or management education has been particularly strong. This is not surprising. As the world of business itself becomes more global, so does the demand for management talent. The spread of democracy, transitions to market-based economic systems, and more widespread participation of countries in the global economy all have helped to fuel this growth, and it is likely that these trends will continue to strengthen the need for management education in all parts of the world.

Much of the research that has so far studied management education has taken a local or regional perspective. Given the uniqueness of higher education structures and environments across regions, and even across countries, this research has proved important in understanding and improving management education in different settings.

The Global Foundation for Management Education (GFME) , however, believes that the recent growth and increased integration requires leaders in academia, business and government to be informed by a worldview of management education. This is the motivation for its recent report, The Global Management Education Landscape: Shaping the Future of Business Schools. The 72 page report includes an examination of the global forces impacting management education, recent developments in management education, and common challenges faced by the global business education community.

In the report, GFME challenges leaders to consider how management education will be affected by powerful global forces, including accelerating economic integration, demographic shifts, advances in information technology, and emerging priorities related to social responsibility, governance, and sustainability. Economic integration, it says, will necessitate greater emphasis on global perspectives in education and skills development, but not at the expense of the need to develop locally relevant educational resources. Rapid advances in information and communications technology offer many opportunities to expand access to management education and efficiently deliver educational services, though the impacts of this technology are uneven due to the digital divide among and within countries. Long-term planning for infrastructure, programs, and staffing will be affected by demographic changes, such as regional increases or decreases in the traditional tertiary-age population, changes in consumption patterns, population migration, and accelerating urbanization. And growing global interest in social responsibility, governance, and sustainability have implications for the missions, programs, and activities of business schools.

Within the context of these macro trends, GFME provides a comprehensive survey of the management education landscape in order to identify ways in which management education has adapted to the changing global environment and to discover the critical obstacles to meeting the global community’s emerging and changing needs.

Included among these observations is the recognition of significant variance in degree structures across countries. In some regions the delivery of management education is being harmonized through efforts to align higher education, such as the Bologna Process in Europe. At the same time, management education is also being diversified through the rise of private-sector education and the emergence of new institutional forms, such as distance-education providers, virtual universities, and franchise universities, as well as the development of new program models targeted at niche markets. Significant growth in demand for business education is occurring at the same time that, in many cases, government financing is shrinking in proportion to growth in overall institution expenditures. Often, business schools are being pressured by institutions and governments to take on more students without commensurate increases in resources. The report expresses concerns about the world’s ability to support the growing demand for quality management education, especially in rapidly developing and transitioning countries.

The growth in demand for management education is also outstripping the production of doctoral faculty. Faculty recruitment and retention issues were among the challenges most often cited by business schools in a recent study, and these issues will continue to be aggravated by the high cost of providing doctoral education, the absence of business doctoral programs in many regions of the world, and perceptions that academic salaries are low compared to those for careers in the private sector.

Business schools are also finding it harder to keep pace with the evolving needs of their constituencies. Increased student mobility, global competition for students, and growing demand for global perspectives mean that business schools must balance their global aspirations with the needs of their local communities. For countries, this means supporting high quality, globally competitive institutions while also ensuring sufficient levels of access to quality management education across the broad population. Regardless of whether business schools are serving a global or local constituency, or both, they are challenged to lean about, predict, and react quickly to emerging organizational and societal needs. Surprisingly few industry-level collaborations exist between business schools and the business community; interactions at the individual school level, though common, are often disconnected and informed by personal experience, rather than broad discussion and analysis.

To address the pressing challenges identified, the report calls for numerous global efforts including: advocacy for quality assurance for the benefit of students and employers; stronger collaboration among business schools; gathering of more data and information about management education; and deeper engagement of business and government leaders to envision the future needs of organizations and societies. Each of these recommendations requires the involvement of leaders in management education, higher education policy makers, governments, corporate leaders, and management education associations such as AACSB International and the European Foundation for Management Development. It is the hope of GFME that its report will provide a foundation for constructive dialogue, collaboration, and investments in the future of management education.

Global Foundation for Management Education

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