Rethinking MBA: Gearing up for a major overhaul in business education
Singapore - Traditional MBA and executive education courses are not an effective leadership development tool if they do not personalise managers' learning process.
According to a recent study by global business schools INSEAD and IMD, conventional classroom leadership development courses may have to be redesigned to suit the evolving corporate world. The study followed a group of managers with high potential over one year in an international MBA programme to examine their challenges and progress. Research showed that companies have to be aware of how their leadership development strategy will influence a manager's ability to lead.
Gianpiero Petriglieri, associate professor of organisational behaviour at INSEAD and co-author of the study, said, "Many MBA and executive education brochures these days claim that the course will 'transform' managers into leaders."
Jack Wood, emeritus clinical professor of leadership at IMD and co-author, said it's no wonder MBAs and executive programmes have been slated. "Critics of MBA and executive courses argue that students' experiences in these programmes are too divorced from the real world to teach them anything about leading."
Companies should "be mindful of how courses not only enrich managers' knowledge and ability but also influence their identity," Petriglieri said.
However, the study found that management education programmes, especially residential ones, can act as "regressive domains". When managers are taken out from their daily work, their challenges and questions that would typically remain under wraps would surface. Findings showed that managers who underwent a personalised course would learn from these "unsettling experiences", instead of brushing them aside.
According to Wood, the real learning comes from getting managers to examine their "habitual responses" and learn to react differently in future. He said leadership development is no longer "telling them how they should lead according to academic models, personality tests or 360 feedback profiles".
The study also found that companies have to help managers develop a keen sense of self-awareness and act with integrity even under uncertain conditions or high pressure if they want to groom effective leaders.
The education regulator also wants to standardise the use of the case-study method in business schools. Top Global business schools such as NYU , City University of New York, HEC and University of Louisville are not resting on their laurels, they are either in the mist of revamping or have already re-design MBA Program with the central theme towards leadership or entrepreneurship.
For instance, The University of Louisville, a top ranked AACSB accredited business school has just launch their highly anticipated Global MBA program in Singapore which central on entrepreneurship thinking, critical for managers operating in the highly volatile global environment. Whist, HEC is trying to improve the linkages between business schools and industry, to help improve the recruitment of students for internships as well as post-graduation employment.
Jennifer Petriglieri, post-doctoral fellow in organisational behaviour at Harvard Business School and co-author, said inculcating such effective leadership instincts in managers would require companies to provide regular development programmes. HR professionals and leaders are also learning to appreciates the importance of talent management and leadership succession planning, courses which are taught through the Executive Master of Organizational Psychology & Global Leadership program offered through the City University of New York in Singapore.
Petriglieri said, "Sustaining the commitment, curiosity and courage to work with the emotional tensions, moral dilemmas and tough questions that are part of leading in a turbulent world is a central aspect of leaders' development."
To take the lead in this area, AACSB, the world most preeminent accreditation body of graduate education is organizing Redesigning the MBA: A Curriculum Development Symposium in Singapore with the aim to help business schools think strategically about questions of purpose, positioning, and program design. The symposium will draw on cutting edge research and best practices from business schools in the Asia-Pacific region, North America, and Europe. It will provide valuable insights about the content and pedagogies of MBA curricula, while also allowing the participants to network and exchange ideas.