Blended Learning And More Specialization On The Agenda For MBA Programs Of The Future

Deans and Directors from 125 business schools in 43 countries gather in Barcelona to debate future scenarios for the MBA degree

Deans and Directors from leading business schools in 43 countries gathered in Barcelona for the Association of MBAs (AMBA) annual conference, to address innovation and the future of postgraduate management education. 

Here at BusinessBecause HQ, our ears are always peeled for plans to improve postgraduate business education. On the agenda at this conference: flexible models for future business schools, joint programmes and international partnerships, MBAs from schools in emerging markets and embracing diversity, creativity and technology!

AMBA is a leading international MBA accreditation and membership organisation, and the event drew deans and directors from 125 business schools. 

A diverse range of speakers and panelists from leading international business schools, the corporate world and the creative sector, provided thought-provoking insight and ideas. Renowned conductor Itay Talgam illustrated important lessons for all leaders by demonstrating a musician’s sense of collaboration and a conductor’s strength as a leader. 

The keynote speech was given by Ibon Zugasti, Chair of the research organisation The Millennium Project in Spain, who gave an overview of the future of the business world. This was followed by a plenary session on new and exciting ideas in MBA programme delivery, content and curriculum.

Predictions for the business school in 2022 were presented from Adolfo Ibáñez University’s School of Business in Chile, INSEAD, Institute of Business Zurich, HEC Paris. Five Chinese business and management institutions shared innovations in Chinese MBA education, and the Boston Dean from Hult International Business School held a workshop on managing Deans in a complex environment.

Panel discussions also addressed trends and innovation in management education with research presented from GMAC, the EMBA Council and the Association of MBAs. 

Prior to the conference, the Association of MBAs undertook three surveys which captured the themes of innovation, engagement and development of MBA courses. Two hundred deans and directors responded to the survey. The results of the survey showed that whilst the majority of respondents felt it is important for business schools to innovate and engage with practitioners and the local community, fewer respondents felt that their schools were very good at doing this.

The Association of MBAs International Deans and Directors Conference survey showed:

  • Collaboration with other business schools and faculties is common, as is the use of entrepreneurs or practitioners to teach on MBA courses:

            - 80% reported that their school has ties to local businesses
       - two-thirds have MBA placement schemes with local businesses
            - 65% felt MBA tuition fees would increase over the next five years
            - 64% felt MBA programmes will increasingly specialise over next five years

  • When asked which areas the MBA might specialise in, the results showed:

            - 56% in sustainable management MBA programmes
            - 36% in emerging markets
            - 31% in health
            - 23% in finance
            - 21% energy

  • More than half of the respondents felt that blended learning would be the mode of delivery that grows the most over the next five years, but only 9% predicted that the online MBA would be the mode of delivery that would increase the most.
  • When asked to the rank how important innovation was to business schools from 1 (not important) – 10 (very important), 58% of respondents said innovation was very important. But only 2.5% felt their school was the best it could be at innovating.
  •  60% claimed their school was good or reasonably good at innovation.

On the final day Professor Julian Birkinshaw from London Business School looked at how management and business is taught, what can be learnt from the past and where to look for fresh ideas. He predicted that MBA programmes and faculty will become more diverse with a switch from western influence to countries such as China and India.

Views from the business world were explored in a panel that looked at the changing corporate environment. Chair of the panel, Professor Debashis Chatterjee, Director of the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, said innovation comes from aspiration and desperation and needed to start in business schools since it is has such high social relevance.

Panelist Jeanette Liendo, from Microsoft, said it was important for business to play a more active role in society with the next generation of leaders forming strong connections between society and business.

Summarising the conference, Sharon Bamford Chief Executive of the Association of MBAs said: “An overarching theme from many speakers was that change has to be fast if you want to develop. It was also agreed that flexibility is the model for the business school of the future, joint programmes and integrated international partnerships will increase, and all MBA programmes will embrace diversity, creativity and technology. We will also see a growth in the MBA from China, India and the emerging markets.”

“AMBA’s International Deans and Directors Conference 2012 was an excellent opportunity for our accredited business schools to come together to exchange knowledge, information and ideas. It is clear that innovation is here and now and schools have no choice but to innovate,” she added. 

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