The Learning Curve: How Business Schools Are Re-inventing Education
October 17, 2011
Business schools were the educational success story of the twentieth century. From humble beginnings in the US, they have spread to every corner of the world – and business studies is now the most popular subject among those seeking higher education. But, for all their success, business schools have also attracted critics and have been vilified for their part in educating the business leaders involved in the financial crisis. So are business schools the blueprint for the higher education institutions of the future? Or are they simply an educational experiment that went wrong? Illustrated with fascinating examples drawn from interviews with some of the most influential figures in business education around the world, this book offers a compelling road-map for educational leaders in the twenty-first century.
What the world needs now, more than ever before, are good managers and more entrepreneurs, not only in Business but also in Politics, Education and in all spheres of social life. Good Management and Entrepreneurship are the best antidote to many of the world’s illnesses, especially in times of crisis. The Learning Curve analyses how business schools can become effective educational hubs for the development of managers and entrepreneurs. Starting with the main trends in management education today and the criticisms targeted at business schools as a consequence of the crisis that started in 2008, the author proposes fundamental initiatives that business schools may implement to fulfill their key mission of developing good managers and entrepreneurs:
- Fostering a new model of Faculty, denominated “Kangaroo” by the author. Differently from Gurus -intellectuals who focus mostly on generating bright ideas- Academic Kangaroos are able to jump from Research to Teaching and from there to Interacting with the actual world of business, performing in all the three facets with similar levels of excellence.
- Bridging the Academia and the Agora, the university and the world of business. The way knowledge is generated and distributed today, along with the impact of new information and communication technologies, demands a revised role of universities in the value chain of knowledge.
- Including Humanities in the Business Curriculum and constantly renewing the contents of business education, given the clinical and changing nature of management, the object of its study. The Author contends that managers can receive a much better rounded education if traditional business disciplines are complemented with courses from Humanities and Social Sciences. Management is not about techniques, but rather about leading people in complex organizations in a widely diverse world.
- Further integrating Technology and Pedagogy, given the many advantages that technologies bring to a personalized learning process. In addition to the new educational platforms that extend the learning momentum asynchronously and ubiquitously, the blend of face-to-face with on-line methodologies provide a much richer, effective and personalized approach to education.
- Identifying and developing the different forms of intelligence of students. Traditionally, analytical intelligence has been the main personal asset measured and rewarded at most educational institutions. However, other forms of intelligence, such as emotional, political and artistic can be as important as the analytical for personal and professional success. Business Schools may actively identify these alternative forms of intelligence in their selection and learning processes to better nurture innovation and creativity in their students.
- Reinforcing the social commitment of managers. Entrepreneurs and managers can be depicted as the Architects of Social Structures when they perform their work with competence and honesty. The author also proposes that business schools devote particular attention to the learning and development of “managerial virtues” in their students.
The book also includes an analysis of the features of business education in countries such as China or India, which have become international education superpowers in recent years. It also contains a description of the increasing global convergence of business education and proposes alternative strategies for business schools to succeed in an increasingly competitive and multi-polar world. The author also proposes a definition of what could be consider a good manager. He explains that there is neither a magic formula nor other short cuts for turning somebody into a consummate manager. Good managers are made over time, based on the systematic exercise of good habits and routines, and as a result of accumulated experience of their sector and their relationships. To reach the heights of management excellence requires discipline and hard work, and is not simply achieved through the passage of time. The learning curve is steep and requires the combination of three basic conditions: (i) the systematic practice of what might be called the ‘virtues of management’; (ii) the importance of lifelong learning; and (iii) combining the study of the different management disciplines with the Humanities and other Social Sciences. In the words of Paul Danos, Dean of Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and author of the book’s Foreword, “this book is a must read for those who want a succinct analysis of what created the vast current world of management education and who want views and opinions from a key global participant in that world who does not match to the conventional drummer”.