How business schools are gearing up to create future global business leaders

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How business schools are gearing up to create future global business leaders

How business schools are gearing up to create future global business leaders


Vitaya Saeng-Aroon

Top-notch local and international business schools gathered in Bangkok recently to examine their responsibilities and future in light of growing pressure to create the next generation of business leaders.

Since the focus nowadays is not just on making profits, but also on caring for people and protecting the planet, we wanted to know how they tackled these challenges.

“I don’t think most of them have the answer. In higher education, there are new challenges. Business managers now go back to school, and they need a new skill set to make societal changes,” said Caryn Beck-Dudley, president and CEO of the Association of Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) in an interview with The Nation.

While working as dean of the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University as well as the College of Business at Florida State University and the Jon M Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University, Beck-Dudley identified the persistent demands of enterprises and challenges faced by business schools in producing future leaders.

So what qualities should future leaders have to successfully run businesses?

“Historically, they were taught to make profits. That cannot be the goal anymore. They have to make societal impacts as well. Business leaders should have these new skill sets: compassion, empathy, and depolarisation, which is the ability to deal with conflicts,” she said.

In addition, she said, business schools should collaborate more across disciplines. From her experience and observation, business schools are well behind other disciplines like law, engineering, medicine, and architecture in getting connected to industry.

“It has become apparent, following the pandemic, that we are globally connected. The world has difficult and complex problems. To solve these problems, [we] require a whole bunch of people to work in a whole bunch of ways,” she said.

AACSB is a non-profit organisation, providing quality assurance, business education intelligence, and learning and development services to over 1,850 member organisations and more than 950 accredited business schools worldwide. AACSB’s accreditation processes are ISO 9001:2015 certified.

At the annual two-day Asia Pacific Annual Conference, held recently at Samyan Mitrtown in Bangkok, participants were provided with networking opportunities and stages to discuss a variety of topics, ranging from the classroom in the post-Covid era; application of technology and innovation; integrating diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging; and supporting changes in the faculty’s role, both in terms of research and teaching.

Geoff Perry, executive vice president and Chief Officer: Asia Pacific at AACSB InternationalGeoff Perry, executive vice president and Chief Officer: Asia Pacific at AACSB International

“The purpose of the conference is to bring together business schools around Asia-Pacific to share and analyse challenges and trends in business education. We also talked about details around credentials. We support networking,” said Geoff Perry, executive vice president, and chief officer for Asia Pacific at AACSB International.

One challenge for business schools is that the pandemic has accelerated online learning. There are growing concerns about how teachers now engage students in learning, he said.

“Business schools should be more ‘purposeful’ to differentiate themselves and that’s what students are looking for. Students tend to have more interest in companies with a bigger purpose,” he said.

In April 2022, the organisation released an insight report titled “Five Forces Driving the Future of Business Education”. The 25-page paper points out how business schools should adjust to the changing landscape of the market’s demand by lining up five areas of development.

1. Commit to a positive societal impact
The new generation of learners is rethinking what business education could – and should – be as customers and employees to push businesses into prioritising their purposes.

While many business schools are enmeshed in structures that impede them from increasing societal impact, they are called to generate good change in the communities they serve. The development of the information, abilities and behaviours necessary for future leaders with societal effect will require educators and administrators to think strategically about how they might generate research with impact.

Suggested action: Encourage the faculty to explicitly address societal effects in their research, teaching and outreach in a way that is consistent with your institution’s mission, values, and impact goals by increasing incentives and success indicators.

A session on AACSB: Asia Pacific Annual Conference:  Lessons on Hybrid PedagogyA session on AACSB: Asia Pacific Annual Conference: Lessons on Hybrid Pedagogy

2. Embed principles of DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) into organisational culture and strategic planning
Business schools should incorporate DEIB into all aspects of their operations, from faculty hiring to programme development to student enrolment, to fostering inclusive and fair work cultures that advance their goals, values and the communities they serve. To improve standards, business schools should encourage DEIB among their students, teachers, and staff, much as corporations seek workplace diversity.

Suggested action: Examine your strategy for enhancing DEIB by identifying shortcomings or potential improvements. Invite your co-workers to do the same, and after getting input from various stakeholders, create a micro-strategic plan to handle DEIB.

3. Evaluate existing partnerships and create new ones to ensure the business school is solution-driven and relevant to the learner and industry needs
To maintain objective alignment and market distinction, business schools must evaluate how collaborations will affect every aspect of the institution, from curriculum development and educational delivery to research and outreach programmes.

Successful partnership necessitates a deliberate strategy, such as prioritising cross-disciplinary cooperation to address difficult problems or utilising education technology providers’ experience to enhance educational delivery.

Suggested action: Analyse present alliances critically, making sure they support strategic objectives. Are you in agreement on concrete initiatives or are you just checking boxes? Check the relationship’s worth versus organisational goals to see if the effort is paying off.

A session on AACSB: Asia Pacific Annual Conference: Transforming the Face of Higher Education Through Innovations.A session on AACSB: Asia Pacific Annual Conference: Transforming the Face of Higher Education Through Innovations.

4. Strategically invest in technology that serves diverse learners’ needs and addresses the educational demands of the future
All forms of learning are now accepted, and business schools are required to provide for them. Both online and in-person learning will benefit from technological advancements, for example, immersive platforms to increase distance learners’ engagement or AI-enabled tests to measure each learner’s skill attainment specifically.
Business schools will need to catch up with developing technologies, such as decentralised finance, or DeFi, in their curricula and learning experiences as the future ushers in a workforce that is driven by technology.

Suggested action: Examine the learners’ experience for chances to produce more individualised and experiential learning. Keep up with industry best practices as the business IT landscape changes and create curricula that support the future workforce. They may use cutting-edge technologies, such as decentralised finance (DeFi), in their curricula and educational activities.

5. Equip faculty for success as their roles expand to meet new expectations
The faculty will need to adjust to technology and hybrid models that are essential to the success of their school in addition to taking on new, demanding duties. Faculty now serve as mentors, facilitators, and counsellors in addition to teaching and conducting their own research, which necessitates that business schools support faculty in a variety of ways, enable the sharing of best practices, and recognise creative online teaching initiatives.

Suggested action: Determine whether faculty members in your institution have the essential skills required to achieve the objectives and deliver results by reviewing their portfolios. If not, think about recruiting a more diverse pool of faculty and determine which areas require more support and training to guarantee effective delivery across a range of delivery modalities.

Vitaya Saeng-Aroon

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Vitaya Saeng-Aroon

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