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The evolution of management education
Dean Paul Danos writes in B&E on the evolution of management education and how the field can continue to stay relevant with changing times.
Issue Date - 08/12/2011
The master’s degree in business administration has evolved since its inception at the Tuck School at Dartmouth in 1900, when only four students graduated. Today, hundreds of thousands earn the MBA each year, and it is offered in many formats: full-time two year, full-time one year, part time, executive, distance and more. The MBA is offered by an increasing number of schools, which already number in the thousands. This is truly a world-wide phenomenon, fuelled by the needs of ever-expanding businesses, which are growing in sophistication, and this creates a continuing demand for talented leadership.

What accounts for the MBA’s continued success and what has to be done to keep it relevant for the future? Certainly, the leading full-time programs have healthy demand from prospective students and strong demand for their graduates in the job markets. As a matter of fact, the last two years have been two of the strongest for both admissions and placements in Tuck’s 111 year history. And this comes in the wake of the continuing financial crises and the ensuing recessions.

As the world’s market globalizes and as companies extend their operations into more and more locations, the demand for young, well-educated leaders will continue to grow. The MBA from a top school gives the student, who has several years of experience after his/her first degree, the tools and the global mindset that growing companies need. The amazing reach of banks, consultancies and corporations must be matched by managers and leaders who are primed to flourish in those environments and who can give their organizations competitive advantages.

One major reason for their success is that the leading business schools have changed with the needs of the markets. The richness of the experiences in the MBA programs is incredible, with projects, workshops, executive visits, world-wide treks, ethics and social responsibility coverage, and leadership training; all supplementing the core materials that faculty experts deliver in the classroom. And because these schools foster a network of their graduates, the learning and sharing lasts a lifetime, with continuing contacts between graduates and their faculty. I know of no discipline that has responded more in terms of offerings to the practical demands of the employment markets and life-long needs of graduates as have the great MBA programs.

To remain relevant, an MBA program must select great leadership prospects and it must give them exposure to thought-leading professors. In addition, the evolving business landscape must be continuously monitored and innovations in student exposure must practiced and perfected. Finally, I believe that the campus life with all of the interaction and sharing among a diverse student body, with representation from many cultures and life experiences, is crucial for developing the total, principled leaders that will be needed in the demanding times ahead. Education is a social thing, and even though programs can be supplemented with electronic connections, the interaction of human beings who live and learn together will remain the heart of the most prestigious programs.



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