How B-Schools Can Still Be A Golden Ticket
As Western economies falter, business schools need to equip students to take up opportunities in emerging markets.
To find out how business schools contend with fluctuations in the business world and national economies, while meeting students’ needs and expectations, we spoke with the Dean of Grenoble Ecole de Management, Thierry Grange.
Our recent survey, ‘What Makes MBA Applicants Tick?’ showed that 35% of respondents undertook an MBA to improve their salaries, 26% wanted to switch industry, 12% wanted to learn new skills, another 12% wanted to network, and 9% took it for a variety of other reasons.
Business schools often make promises such as job opportunities or an increase in pay to incentivise candidates to sign up for degree programmes but some of these promises are becoming increasingly difficult to meet.
However, in a recent Economist article, Philip Delves Broughton - a Harvard MBA who is a prominent critic of business schools - said that: “More and more students are finding the promise of business schools to be hollow”.
The MBA is no longer regarded as a "golden ticket" and, with over 300,000 business students worldwide, business schools have to search for niches to differentiate themselves.
Thierry Grange, Dean of Grenoble Ecole de Management, says that: "The new role of business schools is to gather people together to show them the kind of knowledge they can rely on and create a forum for evaluating this information in order to generate competitive advantages for companies".
The biggest incentives business schools offer are job opportunities on graduation or a salary hike. Grenoble emphasises its links with international companies such as L’Oréal, Siemens, IBM and the 'Big four' consulting firms.
Dean Grange says: “We don’t guarantee students will get those jobs but we certainly do our best to guarantee the necessary conditions”.
It is of course impossible for every student to be placed in the exact role they had in mind when they started b-school. Additionally, tighter immigration rules in Europe, notably France and the UK, mean that some business schools now face an additional roadblock. This introduces the question of how nimble business schools are to changes in their role as '‘fulfiler of expectations', says Grange.
Adjustments to MBA programmes can generally be made quite quickly and easily to meet new demands. Internationalization of the programme and student body is being pushed by Grenoble because students want a chance to have unique interactions and learning experiences, expand their networks, and broaden the scope of their expertise. Likewise the globalization of production processes and services means that companies want to hire people with international experience.
The school has developed programmes in partnership with local institutions in China, Singapore, Moldova, Georgia, Russia, Malta, the UAE and the UK.
These partnerships enable Grenoble's European students to study in different countries during their programs. They will also allow Grenoble to deliver education to students in emerging markets who want quality education, but are finding it difficult to justify studying in Europe because of the cost and increasing difficulty of finding a job afterwards.
In tandem, Grenoble's careers office is building links with innovative enterprises in emerging markets.
Grange is determined that Grenoble will continue to train managers with the knowledge and know-how to excel in business, and who are equipped to take up the best opportunities wherever in the world they might be.
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