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A nation at a glance: China

The MBA trend in China started nearly 10 years ago and opened up a new market for business schools. In China, so far, only a handful out of the total 233 business schools have been able to achieve one of the highly regarded accreditations from Equis or AACSB, and therefore many aspiring managers fell into the arms of foreign business schools.


Chinese flag, Wikimedia Commons

This however might change within the coming 10 years and China will develop its own world-class business schools with six b-schools already achieving high ranks in the FT ranking 2013 (see below) and luring foreign students as well as faculty to Chinese shores.

John Quelch, vice-president and dean of the China-Europe International Business School (Ceibs), is one high-profile example for this. After having worked at Harvard and London Business School, he explained his move to China in an interview with MBA Channel: “It’s a moment in time where Asia – especially China - is pivotal in world economic growth.” In his opinion the differences in business education in Asia, especially China and the U.S. and Europe are that “business education in China is very much weighted towards hard skills subjects: finance, economics, accounting, operations and management.”  The need for the development of soft skills is not valued as highly according to Quelch.

Today China has a population of 1.34 billion people, 550 million Internet users and an average 8-10 per cent annual GDP growth. These data alone show that it clearly is not a country to be ignored by multinational companies. And the more attractive it is to these companies the more attractive it is to MBA graduates – for their education as well as for a working destination. Two bloggers recently wrote an article in the journal of Wharton School titled: “China: The Number One Post-MBA Working Destination”. And fast-forward 20-50 years this might as well be the case, as people talk about the 21st century as the Asian century.

After their China experience the two bloggers summarized benefits and disadvantages as follows:


  • Showing positive results is easier in China, as in many industries it is sufficient to keep up with the market
  • China is a market that offers the possibility of a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 30-100 per cent with strong performance
  • Most local workforce has not (yet) been exposed to professional productivity techniques taught at business school
  • China offers lifestyle benefits as day-to-day living expenses are usually considerably cheaper allowing eating out every day, dry cleaning clothes, and even weekly housekeeping.


  • Rent and luxury products are quite expensive
  • Pollution is an issue in the big cities
  • Food safety can pose problems
  • Traffic is busy in the big cities

Currently career opportunities for MBAs are mainly found in the bigger cities such as Hong Kong, which is China’s finance hub. Here at least, compensation packages compare to the U.S., whereas other locations might only offer “local packages” with considerably lower income.

At the moment it is still possible to work in China without speaking Chinese, but more and more companies are encouraging employees to learn the language and immerse themselves more into the culture. Assimilation is of course necessary to develop relationships – something which is the key to unlocking the Chinese business world, as doing business in China is all about networking (Guanxi in Chinese).

Global FT Ranking 2013 of Chinese Business Schools

Rank 8: Hong Kong UST Business School
Rank 15 Ceibs
Rank 27 CUHK Business School
Rank 31 University of Hong Kong
Rank 66 Peking University: Guanghua
Rank 89 Fudan University School of Management

Financial Times ranking sourced from:

Other sources:
The Wharton Journal
Financial Times
MBA Channel

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