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Effectiveness Of Internationalizing Management Education With The Diminishing Borders In Business

There is lot to achieve towards effective borderless management education through collaborations and exporting management education

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Globalization has been recognized as one of the most significant forces of change for business in the current scenario and to a large extent enabler of increased prosperity around the world.  How effective is management education for the globalized market space? What are the implications of globalization for the management education? How should the business schools prepare themselves to stay relevant in the globalized business environment? Is it within their means to comprehend the capability gap and engage in capacity building, beyond their own local context? These are some of the key questions that confront the business schools as they prepare themselves to address the challenges which come with growing organizational complexity in a rapidly changing business landscape and a need for new capabilities among employees. 

Free trade and the gains from comparative advantage, understood since David Ricardo’s ground breaking work in 1817, have encouraged deeper integration of markets with reduced trade barriers. Expanding the scope of the business by going for geographical diversity has become the preferred strategy for future growth. The developed economies have shown low growth rate with home markets maturing, while the contribution to the global GDP from emerging markets has grown steadily. Firm strategies envisioned for achieving growth targets above industry average are centered on tapping new customers as well as resources in unexplored markets. All this has resulted in an expanded business landscape of firms focused on multiple markets across borders and competition becoming global in nature. Despite the strong intent to capture a significant share of the global market, most firms feel limited by their global leadership capabilities. 

The demand for managers capable of dealing with the emerging challenges and opportunities of globalization will continue to be on the rise. In a survey of senior executives, reported in a 2012 McKinsey article on ‘Developing Global Leaders’, by Pankaj Ghemawat, 76 percent believed their organizations needed to develop global-leadership capabilities, but only 7 percent thought they were currently doing so effectively. 30 percent of US companies had admitted that they had failed to exploit fully their international business opportunities because of insufficient internationally competent personnel. This is in sharp contrast to the mindset shift seen amongst the management graduates who are motivated to work in an international environment as they get comfortable with the rapid advancement in technology and the enhanced ease in mobility. 

Business schools need to respond to the demands of the profession they serve. Through significant changes in the curricula and development of academic collaborations, business schools globally are trying to focus on capabilities needed by management professional to face the incomprehensible international business environment. A large number of business schools have undergone structural transformation of their programs to offer a more globalized education experience. Their pursuit for shaping global leaders is often driven by the rising demand for managers who can deal with the complex business environment, as well the growing number of managers aspiring for international careers. The pursuit is also driven by the desire to create a strong global brand and generate revenues by attracting international applicants for the management programs in International Business.

The business school curricula has evolved to focus on sharpening of the cognitive skills, ability to work through the incongruities diverse work environments demand; and developing social and networking skills for management graduates who seek international careers. Managers who can lead in a global context prove to be a critical resource for innovation and economic development. Content driven approach through class room learning of concepts and theoretical frameworks can achieve that in a limited manner. It is understood to work as a precondition but not a substitute for experiential learning. While there is much emphasis on theory-driven practice, there is incredible value in practice-driven theory. Therefore the emphasis on learning by doing through live projects and internships in different locations is being increasingly adopted by business schools. Use of technology to facilitating management education through distance learning is on the rise. Teams can be connected virtually to work on projects allowing them to share their own views on problems identified. Global alliances amongst business schools and institutions will play an important role in shaping the management graduates who should possess international experience, cultural awareness, and the ability to work in cross-cultural environments.

Efforts to invent delivery models which serve the global industry demand for international business graduates, has set a trend towards establishing cross border partnerships amongst universities and schools to facilitate student and faculty exchange. Business schools globally have expanded their networks to incorporate international perspectives into learning experiences through cross cultural exposure and global immersion programs.  To generate research insights about trends and best practices in global management of enterprises and markets, joint research amongst faculty has been promoted by most schools. 

Cultural diversity is very much valued by the schools which focus on preparing students for doing business with global impact. Academic collaborations for student and faculty exchange, multi-country campuses and multi-location programs have allowed seamless international education experience. Student exchange programs have been effective in experiential learning through immersion in the local culture, appreciation for the history of the region and the regional business landscape. Peer learning in a class represented by students from multiple countries is instrumental in expanding mental horizons and increasing creativity amongst the students. Dual degree programs delivered by partner business schools are becoming popular amongst students who would like to experience the diversity of cultures and economies. Ability to leverage diverse cultures and practices in pursuit of innovation and continuous improvement should be an important outcome of an effective management education process.

Business schools also need to be seen as drivers of globalization as they advocate the benefits of globalization while elucidating the negative effects for timely consideration. During times when international powers continue to shift; discontinuities, shocks, and surprises are common across industries; and right winged politics leans toward protectionism, it is the business schools that shall play an important role in providing the kaleidoscopic view of the changing future and ability to think through diverse scenarios. Management education should be able to prepare the graduating students to have a global perspective to perform competently and delve in global issues. 

Providing access to management education in countries and regions still struggling with developmental challenges is an important responsibility business schools will need to undertake to satisfy the talent needs. Economic growth of underdeveloped regions depends greatly on sufficient investment in management education. National regulations or policy for higher learning therefore needs to provide the business schools flexibility and the autonomy to accommodate the required changes in the curricula, redefine the form of alliances with global business schools, and the ability to move beyond borders. There is lot to achieve towards effective borderless management education through collaborations and exporting management education.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Dr. Sonu Goyal

The author is Dean International Relations and Exchange Programs and Professor of Strategy at International Management Institute, Delhi

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