Management Education in Poland

By Wankel, Charles; Advocate, Monika | Review of Business, Spring 1992 | Go to article overview

Management Education in Poland


Wankel, Charles, Advocate, Monika, Review of Business


Management education in Poland during this transitional period to a market economy is finding its feet. Already there are four- and five- year programs in established degree granting institutions of higher education such as universities, and newer, often private, schools whose programs typically are of one or two years in duration. The new schools generally include only business courses in their curricula, while the established programs in universities have their business courses included in a broader offering of academic subjects. Some of the new schools claim to be offering MBA-equivalent degrees and require a previous university level degree for admission, although sometimes they will let students who have not graduated but are near completion transfer from university-level institutions.

The established programs have offered degrees in several business-related disciplines such as management and economics for some time. However, their curricula have been notably weak in marketing and finance, and these subjects are now being integrated into curricula, though to a varying extent and at varying paces.

Until recently, Polish organizations were largely mired in politics and bureaucracy. In such a context, Polish language management textbooks were heavy on what is called, in the United States, the traditional management paradigm. This is rooted in ideas derived from Taylor (1947) and Fayol (1916) and supports a view of management involving extensive emphasis on lines of authority, and controlling the work of subordinates. It thus fitted well with the then-existing bureaucratic conditions. In the future, a need for lean organizations with rapid and flexible decision-making through the empowerment of those closest to the customers and the technologies is needed. The new paradigm involves focal commitments: to the satisfaction of customers and other stakeholders, to the long-term survival of the organization by exceeding customer expectations, to quality products and services, and to continuous improvement of the quality of processes which produce those products and services (Stoner & Wankel 1991; and forthcoming 1993).

A typical Polish management text from before the nation's recent past would cite Taylor and Fayol abundantly on the one hand,. and Marx and Lenin equally generously on the other. This approach has been called "state Taylorism" (Stoner & Wankel forthcoming 1993). Translated American management textbooks are in use (e.g., Webber 1979; Koontz & O'Donnell 1964). However, these too are in the traditional paradigm and iII-suited to world-class business now. One positive development has been the recent acquisition of recent American business texts by the management schools. Also translations of books that provide a vision of the range of business in a market economy are becoming available (e.g, one of Nickels, McHugh, McHugh 1990).

Polish management academicians have had contact with visiting Western management experts in Poland and through visiting institutions abroad, frequently in the United States. Much of these exchanges involved research and many instructors of management in Poland are now very interested in learning Western business teaching techniques such as the case study method.

On December 6, 1991 the Scientific Society of Organization and Management [Towarzystwo Naukowe Organizacji i Kicrownictwa or TNOiK] held a conference of representatives of 70 institutions offering business programs, of which 37 were recently opened ones. TNOiK offered to coordinate these schools' activities as well help to develop appropriate minimal standards for Polish business schools. An external standard that they decided to use initially was that of the International Society of Business Education (ISBE). They translated various ISBE evaluation inventories for Polish business schools to complete to see which schools met the criteria, to spotlight where improvement might be needed, and to assist in developing new Polish standards. …

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