Academic journal article Competition Forum

The Analytical Competitiveness of Undergraduate Business Programs: Are We All near the Same Starting Point?

Academic journal article Competition Forum

The Analytical Competitiveness of Undergraduate Business Programs: Are We All near the Same Starting Point?

Article excerpt


Many undergraduate business programs emphasize curriculum as a point of distinction. Recent headlines have noted the resurgence in need for strong analytical skills in business along with a corresponding shortage of qualified talent. As schools grow programs to meet this demand, it is time to examine the similarities and differences in business curricula and their analytical starting points. Specifically, we examine the amount of required remediation in lower level mathematics courses and the presence of required higher level (or competitive) math courses across schools of business. A detailed analysis of factors contributing to analytical remediation and analytical competitiveness is conducted.

Keywords: Curriculum, Mathematics Courses, Quantitative Competitiveness, Higher Education, Business Schools


The combination of skills in analytics, business, and communications is expected to be in high demand. Investments in information technology in the past decade have resulted in companies being awash in data. The ability to use this data to conduct fact-based analysis will continue to be a source of competitive advantage (Davenport, 2006).

Corporations seeking to hire people with a strong combination of skills in analytics, business and communications are finding that there is a shortage. While some of this shortage can be addressed by off shoring practices, companies that require analysis that involves discussion with decision makers will find that the distance between the decision maker and the analyst may be a difficult barrier to overcome (Davenport, 2006). U.S. Business Schools are one of the main providers of skills in business including analytical and communication skills.

The ability to meet the rising demand in business for analytical skills is hampered by the decreasing competitiveness of mathematical skills in secondary skills. U.S. pre-collegiate students consistently rank below most of their peers around the world (Ginsburg, Cook, Leinwand, Noell, & Pollack, 2005). The decline in mathematical skills of secondary school students has been discussed as a contributing factor to the U.S.'s decreasing global competitiveness. Most of the discussion has been in the context of engineering and science students, however, the decline in mathematical and quantitative skills of students entering universities in the U.S. (and the U.K.) is observable and significant across a variety of non-scientific degrees as well (Lawson, 2003; Mulhem & Wylie, 2004). There is also a decline in international students enrolling in U.S. universities. This is problematic in that international students have made significant contributions to the analytical brainpower of the U.S. and are a key asset in the U.S.'s ability to compete globally (Higdon, 2005). Many universities are faced with a good share of entering students that require remedial mathematics work and have math anxiety (Zanakis & Valenzi, 1997). At many universities these remedial courses are a necessity and remediation is becoming considered a core function of the college or university (Waycaster, 2001).

This study examines the demographic and curricular factors within schools of businesses that require remedial mathematics courses. It then examines what factors contribute to the schools' requirements of higher order or more analytically competitive mathematics requirements. It places no inherent value on the presence of these courses, nor does it recommend that all schools attempt to become analytically competitive - this study is simply an examination of the current state of mathematics education in business schools.


Curricula from 148 AACSB accredited schools within the United States were randomly selected from the AACSB database of 440 member schools. Selected school's demographic data reported to AACSB were supplemented with each school's quantitative curricula. …

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