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Do business schools need to catch up on globalisation?

A 335-page report recently released by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) titled Globalization of Management Education: Changing International Structures, Adaptive Strategies, and the Impact on Institutions issues a stern warning for business schools around the world: Broaden your scope of internationalisation or get left behind. The report is written by AACSB's Globalization of Management Education Task Force, which includes ten distinguished faculty from business schools around the world. They note that business schools are in the midst of a rapid and oftentimes ‘romanticised’ globalisation wave, whereby international alliances and partnerships are increasingly commonplace, ‘teatime’ activities for university administrations. However, business schools are not adequately providing the requisite knowledge base or helping students to effectively develop the concrete skills most needed by future business leaders in order to be successful in an increasingly globalised economy.

The report asserts that business schools are in the unique position of having both the most to gain from the outcomes of globalisation and the most to lose if they are fearful of adapting to the evolving context. In addition, the AACSB report highlights more reason for worry: Business schools are not adequately preparing their students in terms of cultural sensitivity issues or for careers in international management. Management education is not only steeped in the drive for increased market shares, but, according to the report authors, also has the constructive, large-scale potential to narrow income gaps and increase the transfer of knowledge and resources in society at large. Current approaches to international management education are not addressing this aspect of the field to the degree necessary.

Further, the task force authoring the report pinpoints a mismatch between the methods by which business schools seek to globalise and the outcomes of these efforts. Traditional approaches include facilitating short-term international  experiences for students, involving things like team projects, short-term visits to other countries and student “partnership” activities.  However, little has been done to attract faculty and staff with foreign academic and work experience. The report recommends greater emphasis be placed on internationalisation at home by altering curricula to reflect the growing economic, political and cultural diversity found within different contexts. Lastly, the task force stresses the importance for business schools to closely monitor globalisation trends not only for the sake of improving teaching and learning, but because globalisation is, indeed, a fragmented and fragile phenomenon with the best example being the recent world economic crisis whereby few national economies escaped unscathed.

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)