Academic journal article SAM Advanced Management Journal

The Direct and Indirect Benefits and Costs of AACSB Accreditation

Academic journal article SAM Advanced Management Journal

The Direct and Indirect Benefits and Costs of AACSB Accreditation

Article excerpt

American business schools not accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business--AACSB International--will undoubtedly face the decision at some point whether to seek this "gold standard" accreditation. The process is lengthy, with direct and indirect costs that are reviewed in this article along with the advantages of becoming accredited. Direct costs include accreditation fees plus ongoing costs associated with higher-qualified faculty and larger library and technology budgets, to name a few. Indirect costs include the time consumed in preparation, strategic planning, developing the required assurance of learning program, improved data collection, and dealing with potential internal resistance. Since the process could alter a school's overall culture, the decision to see AACSB accreditation is a major one.

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For American business schools, the gold standard of professional accreditation has long been that of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, AACSB International. Formerly known as the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business, AACSB broadened its focus in the early nineties and has since aggressively pursued international growth. As of May 2011, 620 institutions held AACSB accreditation, including 484 business schools in the United States and 136 internationally. While much of the Association's recent growth has come from schools outside the United States, American institutions continue to seek accreditation.

The standards provide extensive detail about AACSB requirements but debate continues about the benefits and costs of accreditation. AACSB's Chief Accreditation Officer, Jerry Trapnell (2007), asserts that AACSB accreditation "stands as an externally validated hallmark of excellence in management" and provides "key stakeholders, students, faculty and employers, with a decision criterion for selecting institutions with which to be associated." Furthermore, Tullis and Camey (2007) argue that while "first tier" business schools have already achieved accreditation, smaller regional and private institutions regard to AACSB accreditation as critical to their continued existence.

However, not all institutions have embraced AACSB accreditation. Some schools have questioned whether the cost and value of specialized accreditation is worthwhile (Kelderman, 2009). Others have sought accreditation from competing organizations including the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and the more recently formed International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education. Roller, Andrews, and Bovee (2003) surveyed 122 deans of business schools and compared their perceptions of benefits of costs by accrediting body and accreditation status. On a global basis, AACSB competes with the European Foundation for Management Development that offers accreditation under the title EQUIS, and the Association of MBAs, begun in the U.K. and focused mainly on European schools.

This article chronicles the benefits and costs, including the indirect, nonfinancial, and cultural effects, of specialized accreditation by AACSB International. The next section reviews the benefits of accreditation with respect to a school's external and internal constituents. Following that, the costs of accreditation are considered, including both the direct financial costs and the important, but less easily quantifiable, nonfinancial and cultural costs. Finally, the conclusion summarizes the main points.

Benefits of AACSB Accreditation

Any school thinking about pursuing AACSB Accreditation should carefully review the benefits and costs. As Trapnell (2007) notes, many of the perceived benefits relate to improved relationships between the school and its external constituents, including prospective undergraduate and graduate students, employers of the school's graduates, prospective faculty, and donors. …

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