Academic journal article The Journal of Research in Business Education

Factors Influencing Success in Integrating the Four-Year Business School Curriculum: Implications for Business Educators

Academic journal article The Journal of Research in Business Education

Factors Influencing Success in Integrating the Four-Year Business School Curriculum: Implications for Business Educators

Article excerpt

Abstract

Background: Previous research has advocated the use of an integrated business curriculum, and has examined issues related to content, design and delivery of an integrated curriculum. However, no study was found that evaluated deans' perceptions of the importance of integration, the status of integration efforts, and the resources necessary for implementation. Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the status of curriculum integration in business schools, factors influencing deans' perceptions of an integrated curriculum, and the actual implementation of such a curriculum. Method: Business school deans were surveyed. Then, survey logistic regressions were used to identify factors influencing a deans' perception of the importance of integration and resources influencing the actual implementation of an integrated curriculum. Results: The respondents indicated that the strongest motivation for curricular integration was the belief that it is critical to the future success of students. Faculty support was perceived to be one of the necessary resources for implementing curricular integration, and only 10% of respondents believed that an integrated curriculum would lack faculty support. The only significant stakeholder variable was encouragement from the advisory board. Conclusion: The results generally indicated that resource availability is crucial to both the deans' perception of the importance of curriculum integration and to the actual implementation of the integrated curriculum. Interestingly, while the deans' perceptions of the importance of integration are not influenced by perception of faculty support for the task, faculty support is a key resource necessary to ensure implementation of an integrated curriculum.

Introduction

One of the recurring themes (Bohanon, 2008) in any discussion of the four-year business school curriculum is the concept of an "integrated curriculum." An integrated curriculum is an innovative method of business education with a broadbased, multi-disciplinary, organization-centric approach which departs significantly from the traditional function-centric business education (Athavale, Davis, and Myring, 2008). While curricular integration has long been advocated by both business and academic leaders, few schools have made significant progress towards its implementation; and few resources have been deployed towards its attainment (Athavale et al., 2008). The purpose of this paper is to examine the status of curriculum integration in business schools, factors influencing deans' perceptions of an integrated curriculum, and the actual implementation of such a curriculum.

The evolution of the business school curriculum is often dictated by the needs of business school graduates, and the current emphasis on integrating the business curriculum is the result of the recognition that an organization-centric approach is crucial to the future success of business school graduates. Early references to the concept of business curriculum integration were made by Donham (1922, p. 22) who stated, "Yet there is a great need that men should from the beginning of their work build toward a coordinated structure of training rather than toward isolated units whose interrelationship is beyond their vision." The need for curriculum integration was reinforced by AACSB (2002, p. 20), which discussed the concept of blurring disciplinary boundaries, and stated:

A prime example of concerns about currency and relevance of business curricula relates to the functional silos that provide the organizational framework for departments, core curricula, and even elective courses in typical business degree programs. Yet actual business problems or solutions rarely present themselves in neatly organized vertical silos.

Paradoxically, much of the prior research in the area has examined the need for integration within specific functional areas. Brunei and Hibbard (2006) discussed the use of student teams to leverage cross-functional and marketing learning; Miller, Holmes, and Mangold (2007) discussed the integration of information systems applications into the marketing curriculum; David, MacCracken, and Reckers (2003) considered the incorporation of information technology in accounting education; Molyneaux (2004) discussed the potential benefits, student reactions and practical difficulties in integrating ethics in the accounting curriculum; Morris (1997) emphasized cross-functional integration and concurrent decision making in teaching production operations management; and Finley, Taylor, and Warren (2007) explained that one of the benefits of international travel in the business curriculum is a greater understanding of multi-disciplinary integration. …

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