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UCLA Anderson School of Management Dean Examines Business School Landscape

In a recent article in BizEd magazine, UCLA Anderson School of Management Dean Judy Olian took a hard look at the global business school landscape, assessing the obstacles and triumphs of the past decade as well as the challenges that face its future. A decade out from chairing a task force that characterized management education as “at risk,” Olian says now that she sees reason for “tempered cheer.”

Ten years ago the concerns about the future of business schools were linked to a shortage of academically qualified faculty, a curriculum considered increasingly irrelevant and increased competition from non-accredited institutions, writes Olian. Today, though not eradicated, several of these problems have been addressed to some degree.

Though the number of U.S.-trained PhDs in business and management almost doubled between 2001 and 2008, an explosive growth in business schools globally has meant that the increase still hasn’t been sufficient to keep pace with demand, resulting in fierce competition among schools for qualified faculty. But a shift toward attracting professionally, rather than academically, qualified teachers has helped alleviate faculty shortages, Olian writes.

This trend toward embracing senior-level business professionals to fill faculty roles has also helped address concerns regarding the relevancy of the business school curriculum. “Schools have not only hired more practitioners as faculty, but also introduced creative curricula and pedagogical innovations that are more market-focused, career-oriented, technologically supported, and globally immersive,” she writes. Still, schools need to break free from traditionally rigid faculty department structures to better align programs with the real business world, and management education leaders need to lend their voices and ideas to important societal issues such as education, poverty, healthcare and sustainability, Olian stresses.

Fragmentation of the graduate management education landscape has only grown more pronounced over the past decade, Olian writes, with more types of providers, more campuses, and more diversity of programs than ever before. Meanwhile, the cost of business school has soared, rendering many schools inaccessible and unaffordable; the economic crisis has damaged job prospects for some graduates and critics of management education have grown more vocal, calling the virtuousness of business education into question.

“If I were writing a report today on the future of business schools, I’d title it ‘Realizing the Promise of Business Schools for the World: Still Much to Accomplish,’” Olian says.

For Olian’s complete article in Biz Ed magazine, click here.

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