Magazine article Management Today

In My Opinion

Magazine article Management Today

In My Opinion

Article excerpt

Institute of Management companion Ray Wild, principal of Henley Management College, predicts changes in relations between businesses and their educators

With the emergence of corporate universities', the dominance of the internet in learning and the current review of business schools by the newly DfEE-created Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership, business schools and their relationship with businesses are now, more than ever, being put under the microscope.

True, the relationship between business and business schools is always evolving -- but now the changes are more fundamental. Behind this metamorphosis are two main drivers -- technology and ownership. It's obvious that business schools -- like any other service providers -- are subject to the transformational effects of B2B e-commerce. If they can't 'enable' their service provision via the internet, they will wither.

Those that enthusiastically adapt to this e-business world will thrive and will retain their traditional high-touch attendance courses at campuses and country retreats. Attendance at such courses will increasingly be a privilege for a few managers, in terms of taking a few days out from the workplace. Equally, the retention of such activities and their related resources will be the privilege of only a few business schools.

This style of management development activity will probably become the educational equivalent of live pop concerts, theatre and sport. Most people will get their main diet by sitting in front of a screen, but will still value the opportunity of occasional interaction with the live event. So it will be for managers and management education, and the consequence for business schools is clear.

To add to the instability, another, related, change is occurring. It is to do with power and ownership. No longer is there a simple supplier/consumer relationship between business schools and business. For the 30 years since business schools proved their relevance and overcame the scepticism of some industrialists, the power has remained with the supplier. Star faculty, business school gurus and attractive facilities, coupled with the inexperience or lack of confidence of business as buyers of management education, have preserved this relationship.

Now it is changing. Businesses no longer accept a passive role in what is finally recognised as an activity critical to business success. They demand services to suit their needs, at times and places that suit them. They demand clear relevance, an applications orientation, high and consistent quality and value for money. They wish to attach their name to the activity, to have ownership of it -- they seek control. The evidence is there for all business schools -- through the continuing decline of long, open, senior management courses at schools and the rapid growth of customised courses. …

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