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

Articulating the value proposition of the Humanities

gyasmeenpic.jpgEditor’s note: this guest entry was kindly produced by Gisèle Yasmeen, Vice-President, Partnerships, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). SSHRC is an arm’s-length federal agency that promotes and supports university-based research and training in the social sciences and humanities. In this position, Gisèle is a key member of the senior management team, responsible for leading and directing partnership development and knowledge mobilization — an important pillar of SSHRC’s strategic direction. She also oversees the management of the suite of SSHRC targeted programs, including joint initiatives, Community-University Research Alliances, the International Opportunities Fund, strategic knowledge clusters, and strategic programming. People with particular interest in the theme of this entry should note that the Sixth International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities will be held in Fatih University, Istanbul, Turkey 15-18 July 2008.

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Discussions over the last several decades in both North America and Europe have questioned the ‘place’ of the humanities particularly with respect to science and technology and questions have been posed regarding the value and ‘usefulness’ of liberal arts education and scholarship. Similar discussions have taken place in GlobalHigherEd on the relationship between the Fine Arts, Business Schools and the ‘innovation’ agenda. A recent piece in Times Higher Education entitled ‘Soul Searching’ nicely lays out the crux of the matter, namely, clearly articulating an effective value proposition for the humanities without falling into the trap of facile utilitarianism. Matthew Reisz explains:

There is no shortage of people wanting to study the humanities, so the only real test of the ‘crisis’ is whether academics can offer compelling arguments for the value of what they are teaching, in both senses of that phrase – the importance of the subject matter and the positive effect it can have on students’ lives.

As scholars such as Chad Gaffield and David Bentley have articulated in several papers over the years, it is essential that the foundations of the value proposition for the humanities be balanced between articulating the intrinsic as well as the extrinsic worth of the liberal arts project. This balance, and the link between both types of value, is needed to ensure that the intellectual contribution of humanities scholarship is not lost to potential audiences.

Humanities scholars are well aware of the intrinsic value of what they do. Indeed, a major focus of humanities scholarship is the study of values in and of themselves. The challenge is for the uninitiated understanding of what is often taken for granted, namely, the fundamental importance of languages, literatures and other narratives/texts, as well as philosophical and historical considerations as central to the framing of human consciousness and intellectual activity. Words and narratives have power, enable us to give meaning and are rooted in culture, beliefs and value-systems.

For example, women’s suffrage or the abolition of slavery did not emerge overnight but were the result of the articulation of values juxtaposed with various texts including fiction, essays, legal treatises and other uses of rhetoric which eventually resulted in entire societies being persuaded of the need to change their belief systems, mental models, governance and modes of production.

Humanities scholarship, rather than being a disciplinary exercise, is about approaching knowledge in a certain way; one that privileges a close interpretive examination of languages, meanings, values, culture and aesthetics. Hence, the so-called ancient ‘battle’ between ‘arts’ and ‘science’ is, in many ways, a spurious one. We ought to, instead, see these approaches as complementary types of human intellectual activity.

As in renaissance times, a well rounded, educated human being ought to be knowledgeable about a variety of areas and, of course, be skilled as thinker, communicator and leader. This brings us to the question of the extrinsic value of humanities education and scholarship. To be sure, the value-proposition does tend to be defined in these terms (or not) by the media, governments (including granting agencies) and, sometimes, universities. The ‘development of talent’ is a crucial argument to be made for a humanities education, which is an essential building block for success across academic, public, private and not for profit sectors.

Interesting trends to note in the Humanities

There are three profound trends to note in the humanities that warrant being mentioned as they provide concrete examples of the value-addition of the humanities in far-reaching and innovative ways:

  1. Expansion of the traditional ‘western’ humanities canon: As scholars such as Leslie Monkman and Sachidananda Mohanty have been writing for many years, the development of a corpus of work which ought to be known by the “educated” is a moving target wrought with political and historical implications. We are fortunate now that the boundaries around what ought to or can be studied and known in the humanities have expanded considerably over the past thirty or forty years resulting in a cornucopia of literature, theatre, poetry and other texts that have been (re)’discovered’, (re)interpreted and made more available to a wider audience. This expansion is thanks, in part, to the growth in information and communication technologies, which brings us to our next example.
  2. Digital humanities: the rapid advancement in computer technology, in particular the internet and the World Wide Web, has led to ‘mass collaboration’ of a scale and complexity never before seen in the humanities. The use of new technologies in the humanities increases the capacity for scholars to do their work more quickly while still allowing for the subtle ‘layering’ of analysis, interpretation and argumentation. It has thus also resulted in humanities scholarly work being made accessible to a much wider audience – including those outside the ‘typical’ humanities disciplines and, indeed, those operating in sectors of society other than academe. This brings us to our final example of exciting developments in the humanities.
  3. Campus-Community linkages: When Earl Shorris piloted the first Clemente course in the humanities for low-income participants at the Roberto Clemente Family Guidance Center on East 13th Street in Manhattan, in 1995, an international trend was born. An article on his work in Harper’s magazine inspired students around the world. Examples include the University of British Columbia’s Humanities 101 initiative, the University of Ottawa’s (St. Paul’s Campus) Discovery University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Humanities Exposed (HEX) Program [logo below]. Similar, in some ways, to the Philosophers’ cafés which emerged around the same time, the Clemente course and its offshoots provide renewed vigour for a humanities contribution to the campus-community dialogue.

hexlogo.jpgIt is a thoroughly exciting time to take an interest in the humanities. To be certain, there are challenges associated with maintaining and increasing public and private resources for the humanities to thrive. However, the cornerstone to establishing a successful strategy, as Mary Crossan argues, is the development of a solid value proposition. This includes effective rhetorical strategies for those committed to the ‘interpretive and linguistic turn’ – as part of a framework for strategic analysis and action – explaining why their scholarship and teaching are so very important to various constituencies across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors with whom partnerships and alliances are essential.

Gisèle Yasmeen