Authenticity-Based Strategizing: Moving Business Schools Beyond Accreditations and Rankings
Journal of Management Development https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-12-2016-0301
Posted: 20 Jun 2018 Last revised: 23 Jan 2019
Date Written: April 1, 2018
Purpose – Massive open online courses (MOOCs), Millennials, a major financial crisis, and legitimacy issues in a mature sector, ridden by mass imitation, have plunged many business schools into an unprecedented turmoil. Most deans are struggling to address it. In such a mature sector, differentiation is a strategic option to protect profit margins. While accreditations and rankings have reinforced imitation, the purpose of this paper is to propose authenticity as a strategic differentiation mechanism to turn this turmoil into a renaissance of purposeful, credible, and successful business schools.
Design/methodology/approach – The authors use an inductive, qualitative approach based on the
multiple case studies analysis of six American and European business schools.
Findings – Accreditation-based reputation alone is no longer a competitive advantage. It is based on credibility and reputation. Authenticity can be used to regain credibility. The authors propose to define authenticity as the specificity of the education and the local embeddedness of a business school. Authenticity emphasizes the student experience’s idiosyncratic nature. Building on idiosyncrasy allows business schools to differentiate themselves, maintain credibility, enhance reputation, and regain market share in a mature market, ridden by imitation.
Research limitations/implications – The paper is based on a limited number of cases in three developed countries. Emerging markets are not considered.
Practical implications – The paper opens new strategic perspectives for deans.
Originality/value – The paper promotes the concept of authenticity-based strategizing, used successfully in the wine industry, for business schools to cope with their turmoil and to maintain high margins as their market matures. It emphasizes the idiosyncratic dimension of education and its strategic value.
Keywords: Case studies, Globalization, Leadership, Strategy, Business schools
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