Ashridge’s New Masters Marks A Departure From The Traditional Business School Model

Executive Masters in Organizational Change ditches the MBA case method in favor of real-life, action-based learning

Even at top-ranked business schools like Harvard and INSEAD, MBA and Executive MBA students spend a bulk of their time looking at case studies, learning about models and methodologies used in the past.

But the business world is constantly changing. Today’s executives face new challenges: sustainability, ethical leadership, digital disruption, and the shift from the traditional economy to the sharing economy dominated by the likes of Uber and Airbnb.

Ashridge Executive Education is launching a new Executive Masters in Organizational Change. The specialized Master’s program ditches the traditional case method in favor of an action-based learning approach with participating executives bringing their own real-life projects to center stage.

Ashridge is involving companies in the course design, actively seeking a mix of big corporates and professional services firms, as well as public sector organizations.

“We’re more concerned with making executive education fit for the world that we are running into - a good future that’s sustainable, ethical, and participative - rather than the world that we have just come from,” says Steve Marshall, co-designer of the new program.

“People in contemporary organizations need practical tools and approaches now,” he continues. “We’re inviting them to put their own practice as executives under the microscope.”

The two-year, part-time program combines online learning and webinars with a series of six intensive, three-and-a-half-day workshops held at Ashridge and Schumacher College in the UK. Its first intake is set for October this year.

According to GMAC, applications to specialized, non-MBA Master’s programs grew in 2016, while applications to two-year MBA programs stagnated. Ashridge’s new Master’s marks a departure from the traditional MBA and business school model, in format and curriculum.

“We talk about the relational and practical aspects of what it takes to be an executive,” Steve explains. “How power relations work, how to bring influence to bear, how to know when to give or take in negotiations; these kinds of things are rarely taught by MBAs.

“Methodologies are necessary but not sufficient,” he continues. “The magic that people bring is in the relationships they form, the way they work with gut feel, and encourage conversations about change and innovation.”

Ashridge’s Executive Masters in Organizational Change is open to professionals – typically, experienced leaders, managers, executive coaches, facilitators and consultants - with a bachelor level degree and at least five years of work experience.

For Steve, the aim is to bring a community together to foster better leaders in business, and contribute to the movement for greater social, ethical, and environmental responsibility.

“I think organizations that are environmentally and ethically aware put themselves in a position to be more successful in the future,” he says.

“We’re looking for activists. Whether they’re inside or outside of organizations, we’re looking for people who are interested in making a difference.”

Find out more about the Executive Masters in Organizational Change.

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