Business Schools Struggle to Adapt to Globalization

by Vault Education Editors | February 11, 2011

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A massive 346-page, three-year study on management education in the time of globalization has yielded the following conclusion about how well business schools have adapted: needs more effort.

Business schools are falling short of adopting successful strategies that will prepare students for the realities of globalization, according to the report, issued by the AACSB. Richard Bruner, head of the task force that wrote the report, and dean of UVA's Darden School of Business, told : "Schools have a long way to go when it comes to globalizing their curricula, and the majority are still in their infancy in figuring out how to do that."

The Chronicle writes that the report critiques schools for a "frustratingly wide curriculum gap" and "large risks of misdirected and incoherent strategies." Schools, for instance, are prioritizing studying abroad over developing or integrating global content into courses. The reason for that? A lack of "globally ready faculty". Tight school budgets. Few outlets where scholars can publish on global issues. And professors hoping for tenure and promotions have no incentive to tackle such difficult international issues.

The lack of success hasn't been for a lack of effort, though. Many business schools formed partnerships with schools overseas in order to spur faculty to go abroad or encourage more student exchanges. Bruner told the Chronicle that one bschool leader told him that he had made alliances with 34 different schools. Others, nearly 100. On that topic, UVA's associate dean Peter L Rodriguez had this to say:

"Everybody wants to link up with the best dance partners," he said. "If you're a top school in China, you're the belle of the ball." On the other hand, "a lot of schools are pretty promiscuous. Some of their connections amount to a couple of pixels on a Web site."

Given the ephemeral and shallow quality of many of these foreign partnerships, business schools need to know they can't hide from globalization, as Bruner notes. The recommendation given in the report is for schools to begin incorporating required global content into their curriculums earlier or follow the leads of schools like Stanford or Northwestern, who have invested heavily in establishing a globally focused center for research or joint degree programs.

Or, if they have the money, they could be like Duke and just build their own facilities in five different countries.  

Filed Under: Education

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