Magazine article New Zealand Management

Manager-Manage Thyself! Why MBA Beats DIY: On the Surface, Most Managers Agree Formal Management Training Is a Good Thing. but How Much of This Is Simply Lip Service? Do New Zealand Managers and Owner Managers Really Believe Management Courses Deliver Self Growth and Business Advantage?

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Manager-Manage Thyself! Why MBA Beats DIY: On the Surface, Most Managers Agree Formal Management Training Is a Good Thing. but How Much of This Is Simply Lip Service? Do New Zealand Managers and Owner Managers Really Believe Management Courses Deliver Self Growth and Business Advantage?

Article excerpt

In October, Economic Development Minister Trevor Mallard told this magazine that while New Zealand needs skilled managers to improve economic performance and grow more globally competitive firms, the will to build up that management capability is not always evident.

"There's a concern that while New Zealand managers and owners are positive about developing the skills and capabilities of their employees they don't embark on their own formalised training or take advantage of the wide range of capability development tools available to them," said Mallard.

Is this a fair comment? Management training leaders certainly think so.

"I think that's a fairly good generalisation; we are 95 percent small and medium-sized business and at the heart of that is entrepreneurs who have done it with the number eight wire mentality," says John Tucker, MBA programme leader for the University of Waikato.

Tucker suspects too many New Zealand managers pride themselves on their gut feel for business and management, approaching the practice of management as an art rather than a science, when it is a mix of both.

"We still need that innovative and entrepreneurial flair, but because we are a small agrarian economy in a global market we have to look beyond gut feel and number eight wire mentalities to take into account global changes in management and business," says Tucker.

Andy Hamilton, CEO for business incubator The Icehouse, also agrees with Mallard, saying there is not generally an attitude of lifelong learning among New Zealand managers comparative to other countries--something he attributes to the relative immaturity of the New Zealand management style. He says the Business Capability Partnership--led by the NZIM, EMA and Chambers of Commerce among others--will this year focus on management capability with themes including how to encourage managers to start the formal training journey, how to draw off and use new learnings and how to maintain the momentum.

"Our experience is that it is good to help people grow their businesses experientially. Yet we have one of our team who we have encouraged to start an MBA next year because we want [that person] to have better functional and business commercial skills. [That person] is very intelligent but lacks experience," says Hamilton.

And global comparisons are relevant. According to a report published in early 2007 by the United Kingdom publication Financial Times, MBA programmes in the UK and United States are seeing an upsurge in applicants with students competing vigorously for places in the best programmes. Data collected for the Financial Times shows that three years after graduation, alumni from the classes of 2001, 2002 and 2003 reported substantial salaries and salary increases, with an average salary increase from the start to the end of a three-year MBA of 127 percent.

In the report, the associate dean of student recruitment and admissions at the University of Chicago graduate school of business said applicants as well as employers are placing greater emphasis on the long-term value of an MBA, which fitted with GMAC research global database figures which showed the number of US business schools grew 10 percent between 1999 and 2006. In India the number of business schools grew from 639 to 953; more schools than exist in the US. Perhaps surprisingly, new business schools in management-mature Europe also exploded from 181 in 1999 to 658 in 2006, while Germany has 150 separate, if small, MBA programmes.

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Patricia Fulcher, executive education manager for Massey University's northern region, says a lack of formal management training amongst New Zealand managers could have an adverse effect on the ability of New Zealand managers to keep pace with their international counterparts. She says Indian companies like Tata Consulting Service (rated third of 500 'most valuable' businesses in India according to India's Business Today) award staff wanting to do a MBA in New Zealand time off and a cash contribution in addition to keeping their jobs open. …

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