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Delivering MBA courses – the case of Warwick Business School

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A global concern for management education

Howard is also very proactive in the field of management education: he has been vice president of the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), chair of the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), is the current chair of the Association of Business Schools (ABS) and chair elect of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). His wide teaching experience has given him a unique perspective on the difference between management education in North America and Europe. He recently published an article entitled, "The competitive (dis)advantage of European business schools" based on research in the literature and the rankings.

How do European schools differ from their cousins across the pond?

European schools are smaller, more international; they are less well endowed and more likely to be supported by public money. Their educational methods are based on a learning style rather than a teaching style: problem-centred, project-based learning with plenty of opportunity for action learning and reflection as opposed to transmission of discipline-based knowledge. They are also more likely to offer flexible, innovative delivery, by distance learning. And there is no such thing as an overall global brand: national and regional considerations play a strong part in driving individual philosophies, hardly surprising given the unique identities of the diverse nation states within the European Union.

He also believes that in America, the rapid acceptance by the market of the MBA led to a standardized model based on MBA delivery, which in turn led to the mass production of business education.

"From the 1970s to the early 1990s we followed that model slavishly, but since then we've adapted it quite heavily. So European schools have become quite diverse: for example, the Imperial College Business School is more analytical; the University of Leicester School of Management has an orientation towards 'critical management studies'; some schools emphasize the arts and humanities, others such as WBS emphasize social sciences.

"And a lot of European Business Schools are up there in the top 30 Financial Times and MBA rankings, including ourselves. But why do the Americans dominate? The old story, mountains of money. The position of the top 15 schools has hardly altered in six years. Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, Columbia, MIT, North West, all built brands and endowments, which enabled them to build first class resources and get the top students – and stay on top. The endowments of these schools just dwarfs anything that even the top, standalone European schools such as London Business School and INSEAD could achieve."

Howard's concern that management education should be a global phenomenon, and not just one confined to North America and Europe, has led to his association with the Global Foundation for Management Education (GFME), of which he is chair. Set up by AACSB and EFMD, the GFME's mission is to develop quality management education worldwide.

An early task was to do an inventory of what was going on in management education globally, which was published in the Global Guide to Management Education. The next task was to look at economic and business trends, as well as developments in management education, and see how these would affect business schools in particular regions: this study was published in 2008 in Global Management Education Landscape: Shaping the Future of Business Schools.

The report made five recommendations:

  1. global quality assurance,
  2. mechanisms for dialogue with business and political leaders (perhaps through regional and global associations of business schools),
  3. investment in doctoral education in order to grow the next generation of business school faculty,
  4. creation of a global clearing house for data about business schools as there are still some important countries where information is scarce,
  5. information on models of international collaboration among business schools.

"GFME is concerned with raising awareness and ensuring that management education has a genuinely global reach, not just within the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, but also in places such as Africa and South America. We are concerned to encourage participants in the western or largely western economies to build bridges and alliances."

Howard and Emerald

The Journal of Strategy and Management

Howard's work with GFME (and EFMD) brought him into contact with Emerald, which published both reports. He is consulting editor of the recently launched Journal of Strategy and Management (JSM), a role which involves having a watching brief and helping the editors, Abby Ghobadian and Nicholas O'Regan, shape the journal.

He believes that JSM will provide an important outlet for people who want to publish behavioural, qualitative or conceptual research that does not fit into the conventional economic and analytical paradigm of other journals. Especially as strategy has been, over the last ten years, one of the largest growth areas in management.

Academic adviser

Howard also acts as an academic adviser to Emerald, and he indicates his support for John Peters' (Emerald's former chief executive) view that download statistics should be seen as an alternative to citations.

"I suspect we are going to see much more use of downloads, including pre-publication ones, as the publishing world goes more online. The Social Science Research Network already uses download statistics and puts papers online six to 12 months before publication."

But alongside his keenness to launch an alternative journal on strategy is his passion for management education, which he wants to continue publishing in "quite heavily". With organizations like WBS, AACSB and GFME to keep an eye on, he should be kept busy. And it's a comforting thought to think that, just maybe, his philosophy will permeate through to the rest of the management education world.

Reference

Antunes, D. and Thomas, H. (2007), "The competitive (dis)advantages of European business schools", Long Range Planning, Vol. 40, pp. 382-404.