The concept of emerging economies has evolved from a condescending buzzword that used to denote countries amid development and reform, to symbolize the next frontier.
For MBA programs on the frontline of globalization, keeping up with emerging markets—Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) are the key players—is no longer optional.
Recently, The Economist reported that the exchange rates of emerging economies enjoyed their ‘best 18 months since 2011.’ This makes them attractive investment propositions from the outside. Consequently, more and more business school students have begun to look for ways to invest in and grow businesses in low-to-middle per capita income countries on the crest of modernity.
To operate in emerging economies, MBAs need to be able to handle the risks involved, knowing how to do so ethically and responsibly.
BusinessBecause spoke to representatives from three top US MBA programs to find out how their curriculum is adapting to the demands posed by emerging economies, and an increasingly globalized business landscape.
MIT Sloan School of Management
MIT Sloan School of Management offers extensive opportunities for students to immerse themselves in both the cultures and economies of emerging markets. MIT Sloan’s Global Entrepreneurship Lab, for instance, gives students hands-on experience starting and managing new enterprises outside of the US.
“In the design of MIT’s Global Entrepreneurship Lab (G-Lab) we seek to do more than just offer an emerging market course,” says Michellana Jester, course manager for the Global Entrepreneurship Lab.
“By using real-world business challenges as a learning vehicle, Sloan student teams tackle projects that build concrete value for the startups and fast-scaling firms in emerging markets that partner with us.” G-Lab student teams have analyzed over 375 startup and new companies in over 50 countries throughout the world—and those numbers continue to grow.
Teams of students work with enterprises, as well as fellow business school peers, from China and India when they immerse themselves in MIT Sloan’s India and China Labs. They work on economic growth plans within their teams, before working on-site with sponsored companies.
The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship is the pinnacle though. Students in their graduating year can score a fellowship of up to $50,000 to work on their own venture—other students applying can be awarded up to $25,000.
Benjamin Awuondo, an MBA student and one of the 2017/18 fellows, is working on his company Additive Africa, which uses 3D printing to design, manufacture, and sell spare parts for bikes and motorbike taxis in Kenya.
Alicia Chong Rodriquez, another of 2017/18’s fellows, is using her stipend to work on Bloomer HealthTech, her venture that develops advanced fabrics that allow personalized monitoring and treatment of women with heart disease in Chile.
Berkeley’s Haas School of Business
Pam Joyce, interim executive director of Berkeley Haas School of Business’s Institute for Business and Social Impact, says that the school’s popular experiential learning and global programs “build on the school's defining leadership principles: question the status quo, confidence without attitude, students always, and—especially—beyond yourself.”
Haas isn’t just focused on the bottom line or return on investment for emerging markets; Pam emphasizes that meaningful, innovative engagement is the real intention here.
The Institute for Business and Social Impact (IBSI) is a fitting resource for future-minded MBA students interested in creating social change. The Institute addresses social and environmental challenges through student activities and research.
Students dive into a world of emerging possibility on the International Business Development Program too. They work as consultants in partnership with companies and nonprofits in Kenya, Brazil, India, and more. Denisse Halm, a Haas MBA graduate from the class of 2017, worked with a foundation in West Africa to integrate education technology into low-resource environments in the region.
Tuck School of Business
Tuck prides itself as an MBA with a thoroughly global mindset, where students cultivate cross-cultural skills and an openness to unfamiliar terrain. Associate director of communications, Lindsey Walter, explains that all Tuck MBAs have to satisfy a TuckGO requirement, in which they must "participate in at least one course in a country that is new to them."
For Tuck hopefuls interested in emerging markets, the school has developed a set of international courses where participants are fully immersed in a distinct business culture.
In addition to a first-year project, an on-site global consulting assignment, and an international exchange with one of Tuck's partner institutions, Lindsey highlights Tuck's Global Insight Expeditions (GIX) modules, which take place during the March break. Emerging markets make more than a few cameos.
Professors Gordon Phillips, Anant Sundaram, and Adam Kleinbaum lead just three of the modules focusing on nascent nations, taking students to China, India, and Israel respectively—while there, MBAs work on technology, entrepreneurship, and the emergence of a new wave of business demand.