Enhancing Management Education Relevance: Joint Creation of Knowledge between Business Schools and Business

By Xie, Chuanyin; Steiner, Susan D. | Business Education & Accreditation, July 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Enhancing Management Education Relevance: Joint Creation of Knowledge between Business Schools and Business


Xie, Chuanyin, Steiner, Susan D., Business Education & Accreditation


ABSTRACT

Management education has been criticized for its limited contribution to both students and business. Yet, the traditional education approach has not undergone fundamental changes in decades. A number of new educational models have been proposed, but challenges seem insurmountable when it comes to implementation. This article explores how an effective change in management education could be made through joint creation of management knowledge between business schools and the business community. We argue that this collaboration in knowledge creation complements the new management education models and is helpful to their implementation.

JEL: 120, 121, M10

KEYWORDS: Management Education; Business Relevance; Joint Creation of Management Knowledge

INTRODUCTION

Management education has been criticized for its irrelevance to the real world practice and limited contribution to students' career success. The wave of criticism was triggered by business failures such as the loss of U.S. dominance in the world car market three decades ago. Hayes and Abernathy (1980) contended that American managers have led the way to economic decline because of their analytical detachment and focus on short-term cost reductions. These inferior managers were often educated by business schools, so Leonard (1984: 47) argued that "the disastrous American emphasis on short-term, bottom-line management owes less to science classes at Central High than to MBA classes at Harvard."

More recently, scholars and practitioners have intensified their criticisms. They complained that graduates can use very little of what they were taught in school (Derrick, 2002); business schools foster specialists, not managers (Mintzberg & Gosling, 2002); consulting firms can reproduce a two-year business school experience in three weeks (Preffer and Fong, 2002); and employers hire MBA students because they are "a prescreened pool," not because they believe that the education delivered in the classroom creates value (Leonhardt, 2000). Therefore, business schools appear to have been "on the wrong track" and lost their way (Bennis & O'Toole, 2005). They are less successful than the burgeoning number of MBA graduates might indicate (Preffer & Fong, 2002), and their "golden days" seem to be over (Bridgman, 2007).

Facing the widespread criticisms of management education, scholars have proposed a number of new educational approaches and models. Some of them are incremental, focusing on improvements in curricula and/or teaching methods, such as requiring a business ethics course in the undergraduate core curriculum (Rutherford et al., 2012), team teaching (Greiner et al., 2003), using executives as professors (Clinebell & Clinebell, 2008), learning-on-demand (Armstrong & Sadler-Smith, 2008), and design thinking (Dunne & Martin, 2006). Other educational proposals are more radical. According to Grey (2004), incremental solutions are not sufficient for addressing the problems business schools face. The problems in management education should be tackled with changes in pedagogy rather than changes in curricula (Campbell et al., 2006). A less-than-relevant curriculum may be a main culprit, but "the curriculum is the effect, not the cause, of what ails the modern business school (Bennis & O'Toole, 2005: 98). Thus, some more radical approaches are proposed, including the student-as-partner model (Ferris, 2002), the student-as-client model (Armstrong, 2003), the professional model treating management as a profession (Bennis & O'Toole, 2005; Khurana & Nohria, 2008) and critical management education (Bridgman, 2007; Dehler et al., 2001; Grey, 2004).

Despite all these responses from management educators, the traditional educational approach has not undergone any fundamental change (Welsh & Dehler, 2007). Countless calls for changes have been made, but the "pleas seem to fall on deaf ears" (Bell, 2009). According to Pfeffer and Fong (2002), a profound change in contemporary management education will be limited in the U. …

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