B-schools must disrupt to stay relevant, says new book by GMAC

Wednesday, August 21 2013
A new book commissioned by GMAC examines the key challenges faced by business schools by offering insights into a rapidly changing global MBA market and provides a blueprint for change in management education
The book offers specific ways to renovate current models and practices, such as curriculum content and delivery, student engagement, faculty development etc.

MBA education, the world over, is going through a period of churn and rethinking. A new book commissioned by Graduate Management Admission Council, owners of the GMAT exam, examines the key challenges faced by business schools by offering insights into a rapidly changing global MBA market, and provides a ‘blueprint for change in management education’.

The book comes three years after ‘Rethinking the MBA’, the much talked about book by Dr Srikant Datar, faculty at the Harvard Business School. While similarities exist, this new book draws upon the experience of large number of respected academics, and covers a broader range of strategic issues.

‘Disrupt or Be Disrupted: A Blueprint for Change in Management Education’, whose authors include Rakesh Khurana of Harvard Business School and Dipak Jain of INSEAD, draws on the contributions from international academics who offer specific ways to renovate current models and practices, such as curriculum content and delivery, student engagement, faculty development, and other issues of concern and debate.

Introducing the book, authors Brooks Holtom of Georgetown University and Lyman W. Porter of the University of California-Irvine, point out at the challenges facing MBA education. “Marketplace forces, such as new competitors, technological advancements, globalization, and economic fluctuations are challenging the very core of graduate management education,” the authors note.

In the chapter titled ‘Building the Case for Graduate Management Education: Ensuring and Enhancing Future Value’, the authors Erich Dierdorff, Denis Nayden, Dipak Jain, Subhash Jain pose key questions that anyone involved in providing graduate management education needs to be able to answer: Why does this type of education matter? Does it provide measurable value? If so, how do we know?

In an engaging chapter, ‘Framing and Making Strategic Choices’ by Michael Hay of the London Business School, the author delves into a core issue that schools of all sizes and types face: how to position the school for the future. He outlines four forces making such positioning vital:  globalization, increased international competition, new business school models, and the “arms race for talent.” Against these challenges, author examines strategic positioning questions for B-schools.

Authors Jikyeong Kang, Andrew Stark from the Manchester Business School examine the financial environments within which business schools function today. With insights from interviews conducted with large number of business school deans and directors in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including Ajit Rangnekar, Dean, ISB, the authors suggest that the choice of business school model or consideration of a change in business model requires an in-depth analysis of the inter-relationships between existing and potential funding sources, the role of research, and development of reputation and brand and how these open doors to key resources.

In the chapter ‘Intellectual Signatures: Impact on Relevance and Doctoral Programs’, authors J.C. Spender and Rakesh Khurana, focus intensively on four exemplar management schools—at Harvard, Chicago, Carnegie Mellon, and Yale—and discuss how each has placed its own intellectual stamp on doctoral education for future faculty members.

Other chapters in the book talk about the need for more holistic curriculum, the challenges involved in increasing the quality of teaching and delivery of course content, Student Engagement, and the need for a comprehensive approach to measuring the quality of graduate management education.

The book ends with the assertion that the status quo is no longer sufficient for sustaining the value of graduate management education into the future. There exists an urgent need to change and innovate, note the authors.

Endorsing the book emphatically, Professor Eric Cornuel, Director General, EFMD, says, “Anyone in a position of leadership in the world of management education—indeed, anyone with any interest in the subject—needs to read this book.”

 Talking about why GMAC decided to bring about this book, David A. Wilson, GMAC president & CEO, said “What matters most to GMAC is that the best ideas and solutions to the challenges graduate management education faces today are given a strong platform on which to be heard. We commissioned this book to bring together an accomplished roster of contributors to spark and then lead the discussion and provide new insights and new ideas.”

For MBA educators in India, the book offers a good worldview of issues that face the MBA educators in more matured Western markets. The book offers an opportunity to reflect and anticipate the shape of future of Indian MBA education, as we integrate with the globe, and take proactive steps to position themselves better than peers.

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