Bulk of faculty have not lived and worked in multiple cities
By LEE U-WEN
BUSINESS schools in general are not doing enough to prepare their students to compete in an increasingly globalised world, according to a new report released by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
'We did a formal survey of business schools and found that many of them regarded themselves as international if, say, they sent their students on exchange programmes overseas.' - Prof De Meyer
A large number of institutions, too, have a narrow view of what it means to be truly considered international, said Arnoud De Meyer, a member of the 12-strong task force that spent nearly three years putting together the 342-page report.
The task force is headed by Robert Bruner, dean of the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business. Others in the committee include Indian School of Business professor and dean emeritus M Rammohan Rao and Peter Wolnizer, dean of the University of Sydney Business School. The AACSB is one of the world's leading accreditation agencies for business schools.
The report's findings, which were presented to deans at a conference in Arizona last month, make a strong case for why this is a 'major turning point' in fundamentally changing the way business schools should organise themselves, said Prof De Meyer, president of Singapore Management University (SMU).
'This is much more than simply teaching a little more marketing in the curriculum or adding a course on internationalisation.'
'We did a formal survey of business schools and found that many of them regarded themselves as international if, say, they sent their students on exchange programmes overseas,' said Prof De Meyer, a former director of the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge in the UK.
'However, this is just giving students the opportunity to have a different experience elsewhere, it does not mean that the school or the university is international.'
As far as faculty is concerned, the bulk of them lack the exposure of having lived and worked in multiple cities. The problem here is two-fold, said the 56-year-old management studies scholar.
First, many universities do not invest as heavily as they should in developing their teaching staff. The other hurdle that needs to be overcome is that academics would largely prefer to stick to their own discipline throughout their career, rather than branch out and become a global specialist in several areas.
'This is a big step for many faculty members, and there is that risk that you will be seen as being superficial,' he explained.
There is also a growing number of universities that have adopted the model of using multiple campuses to expand their reach in more markets, be it within their own country or overseas.
The downside, however, is that there is usually little interaction between the campuses as the different campuses tend to function independently, he said.
What's needed is for a repository to be created to consolidate best practices - in Prof De Meyer's words, a 'database of interesting ideas' - so that mistakes are not repeated and lessons are learnt.
As for SMU's own plans on how to ensure its graduates and staff are ready to cope with the challenges of a global world, Prof De Meyer said that the university had to invest more in the development of pedagogy and to expand its areas of research even further.
He also revealed that the management is exploring the possibility of 'company internships' that would see faculty spend a meaningful amount of time at an international organisation.
'We have to think about how SMU is projected outside of Singapore. Our brand is already very well known locally for our undergraduate education. Our research is good in some cases, but it is patchy and limited to Singapore,' he said.
'We owe it to the country on how we present ourselves to the world, so we are going through a strategic reflection on the internationalisation of SMU.'