Academic journal article Review of Business

The Changing Face of Business Education: Challenges for Tomorrow

Academic journal article Review of Business

The Changing Face of Business Education: Challenges for Tomorrow

Article excerpt

Three enduring trends promise to shape the economic landscape of tomorrow: international integration; innovations in information technology; and the diversification of the American labor force. This article outlines the challenges facing the business world today, and plots a course for universities to follow in providing business students with the shills they need to succeed in this complex environment.

Introduction

As we enter the new millennium, it is time to re-evaluate the materials and methods educators use to prepare business students for success in the workplace. While the United States continues to deliver the best post-secondary education in the world, this position may be much more tenuous than most people are willing to admit.

Far too many educators rely on outdated and inefficient teaching methods, failing to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in today's increasingly complex business environment. While the Socratic method and lecture/discussion framework currently employed in most of our business school classrooms provide a convenient and comfortable way to disseminate information, our ever-evolving student population demands more. We must adapt - quickly -- if we are to retain America's preeminent position in the delivery of business education.

Three continuing trends promise to change and shape the economic landscape well into the 21st century: 1) continued globalization of business; 2) enhanced information technology; and 3) increasingly diverse workplaces.

While these trends are not new, their importance continues to grow. No longer can we brush aside these issues as the latest "buzzwords" to be discarded as soon as something better comes along. We must prepare our students for the challenges and opportunities each of these trends represents. The following sections outline what I believe to be the most important aspects and opportunities afforded by these emerging challenges.

Challenge #1: Globalization

From a competitive standpoint, the greatest challenge faced by many American industries over the past 20 years has been the enhanced competition provided by foreign and international firms. Trade barriers continue to fall and trade agreements continue to proliferate. For example, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) has reduced the average tariff from over 40 percent shortly after World War II to just over 3 percent by the mid-1990s. In addition, while the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the European Union (EU) garner most of the headlines and debates, a wide variety of other nations have also entered into trade agreements designed to enhance their international trading opportunities [2]. Exhibit 1 provides a list of some of these more notable pacts and their participating countries.

What do these trends mean for our students, how are we addressing them and how should we be addressing them? First, the next generation of business students must understand the continuing globalization of business if they hope to be successful. Specifically, they need to understand international business trends, as virtually every sector of the economy is influenced significantly by international economic events; students must be able to make informed choices regarding the career opportunities available (and associated threats) within a given industry.

For example, the recent financial crises in Southeast Asia and Russia have altered the financial landscape in these areas. Students must be made aware of the continuing implications and fallout from these events, particularly with regard to how they will influence the American economy and their own career paths.

Similarly, students must understand the global economy in order to fulfill their quest to remain competitive and mobile within the job market/labor force. The demographic composition of many graduate business programs today reveals a tremendous degree of diversity. …

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