The Achievements and Future of Business Education
20 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2016
Date Written: Summer 2016
The dean of Columbia Business School is joined by the deans of Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton in discussing the challenges and opportunities facing today's graduate business schools. Most business schools aim to provide students with a certain body of knowledge - in disciplines such as marketing, finance, and accounting - as well as some general management and leadership training and skills. The biggest challenge to this model of business education is now coming from the high cost of the traditional two‐year MBA program and the threat of disruption by “online” alternatives. But the consensus of the four deans is that the combination of training and experience provided by today's top business schools will enable them to withstand the threat from online alternatives. And thus for the leaders of these top schools, one of the main challenges in designing and maintaining a successful business school program is to find the right mix of theory and practice, classroom and “experiential” learning. To the extent the schools succeed in achieving and maintaining this balance, they should continue to produce graduates who are sought by employers that include not only companies large and small, but non‐profits and, at some points in their careers, even the public sector. What's more, the deans all sense the growing demand for business to play a larger role in addressing social problems that have traditionally been seen as the responsibility of government and non‐profits. And one implication of this demand is that business schools, besides producing talent that finds its way to the public as well as private sectors, should prepare to play a greater role in the public debate over solutions to social challenges, such as protecting the environment while at the same time trying to stimulate enough economic growth to limit rising inequality.
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