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Business schools need to broaden scope

The future of management education is bright - provided top business schools broaden the scope of who they serve and how they serve them, writes David Bach from Yale School of Management in an article for the Financial Times.


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The number of MBA applicants has steadily declined in the past years, but instead of fighting over the shrinking pool of applicants, business schools should be broadening their offer of management skills, recommends the Yale professor. 

“If business schools (…) approached the market with a demand-side lens — ‘who needs management education and how can we provide it to them?’ – they could tap into vast new markets,” anticipates Bach. He has identified three currently under-served populations: pre-MBA students, non-business professionals, and senior leaders.

In many countries, graduates struggle to market their predominantly theoretical skills to companies that increasingly expect immediate impact from new hires, says Bach. Tuck has long tapped into this market potential for example by offering a four-week summer Bridge Business Program, which offers a mini-MBA to more than 300 undergraduates, including leadership training and career support. Harvard’s Credential of Readiness (CORe) approaches a similar market via its online HBX platform since February.

Bach sees a second growth area in non-business professional sectors and cites hospitals, schools and police departments as examples. Doctors, teachers and police officers are rarely prepared for the management challenges they face but do need the training as more competition, media scrutiny and lack of funding leads to an increasingly demanding work environment.

The third and most promising market are senior leaders according to the Yale professor. In his opinion, leaders in their 40s, 50s or 60s would cherish flexible, self-designed curricula lasting between two and six months and this could fulfil business schools’ unfulfilled dream of life-long learning.

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