Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Comparing Topic Importance Perceptions of Industry and Business School Faculty: Is the Tail Wagging the Dog?

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Comparing Topic Importance Perceptions of Industry and Business School Faculty: Is the Tail Wagging the Dog?

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Collaboration between industry and academia has become an important issue for business schools. This collaboration manifests itself when faculty are asked to work in partnership to create a curriculum that serves both students and industry. Unfortunately, the curriculum topics considered to be most important by academia are not necessarily the same as the topics that are important to industry. While academia's primary objective is to provide business students with a broad range of skills and experiences that will serve them throughout their entire careers, industry often seeks specific skills to meet its current requirements. Therefore, academicians should be interested in identifying those topics in which significant disagreement exists and in developing a resolution strategy.

The authors compare data from (Evans, 1996) and (Weinstein et al., 1998) to that of follow-up surveys to examine these differences. They find that the preferences of both parties change over time. On some subjects, academia's preferences move towards those of industry, while on others, industry's preferences move towards academia. In some cases the preferences of both moves towards each other.

Our empirical evidence supports the benefit of collaboration between academia and industry. However, it also suggests that neither party should assume it will have a better perspective in all cases.

INTRODUCTION

Representatives of academia and industry struggle to define the nature of their relationship relative to curriculum development. Should academia remain independent or follow the lead of industry? One argument is that because industry hires business school graduates, it is better qualified to determine the competencies students will need in order to compete successfully in the job market (Plice & Reinig, 2007). A counter argument is that while industry seeks specific skills to meet its immediate requirements, business schools are more qualified to provide students with a broad range of skills and experiences that will serve them throughout their entire careers (Azevedo et al., 2012). The unique value of the university business school lies not in the disseminating of specialized content to meet industry's needs, but in its ability to teach students to relate and utilize their knowledge through the cultivation of creativity and problem-solving skills (Chia, 2014).Thus, academia faces the challenge of finding an equilibrium between these competing viewpoints. While acknowledging industry's perspective, academia must also balance these views with its obligation to provide students with the foundation skills they will require. Faculty has the responsibility to provide a curriculum that addresses the needs of both students and industry--both important stakeholders of the higher education system (Weinstein & Sanders, 1997). Faculty commonly identifies and satisfies students' requirements (e.g., satisfaction of prerequisites for subsequent classes, graduation, employment, and preparation for graduate programs, etc.). However, too often they do not identify and satisfy the requirements of industry. With the growing call for increased collaboration, industry is called upon to play multiple roles in its relationship with faculty and schools of business. These roles include providing financial support, creating opportunities for professional development and consulting, and participating in strategic and operational planning through membership on corporate advisory boards. Because of decreasing state funding, schools of business increasingly turn to industry to fund student scholarships, supplement physical plant needs, support research, and sponsor special events (Ping, 1981; Muller & Sepehri, 1988). Moreover, industry often influences the preparation students need to enter the workforce by providing cooperative education opportunities, internships, and projects. Industry representatives participate in the academic process as adjunct faculty and speakers for classes and student organizations. …

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