Major trends in business education

Von am 5. Oktober 2015
Santiago de Iñiguez Onzoño IE Business School

Unfortunately, Globalization is not enjoying much popularity today. Despite all the positive consequences derived from the expansion of global trade, the internationalization of many sectors and the integration of the world’s economy, the rise of populism across Europe and elsewhere is threatening many of those social achievements.

One of the major positive results of globalization is the cross-border movement of students, faculty and talent at large. This free flow of talent is positive on many accounts, both economic and social. In the case of business education, particularly in Europe, many business schools have become truly international, with a diversified student class profile that enhances the learning process and produces internationally oriented managers. For example at IE Business School we host 156 different nationalities on campus and over 93% of the MBA class is composed of international students.

Globalization of business schools began three decades ago. A main catalyst for the globalization of business education has been the contribution of leading opinion makers and thinkers, particularly the specialized journalists in business schools, like the editor of this website. Their contribution has been key to further the internationalization of business schools, increase the transparency and comparability of the educational offerings and improve the quality of business schools at large.

Along with business schools, the entire educational world is going through a massive transformation. Certainly, a major driver is globalization, which is unstoppable, irreversible and, overall, positive for the sector.

Along with globalization, I find four major identifiable trends in business education, which will reshape the mission and the programs of business schools in the future:

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Prevalence of University-based schools

We live in the age of the university-based business school. Many business schools have traditionally functioned as autonomous institutions, even if they belonged to a university. Most US business schools were created for post-graduate students, and enjoyed considerable autonomy. But in Europe, they were even more independent. Insead, or IMD, for example, were not set up by universities but by business people, while in France, almost all the most prestigious business schools are part of the Grandes Ecoles system, functioning under the auspices of regional chambers of commerce.

But the rise of globalization has questioned this independence. Recent years have seen more and more business schools join forces with the universities they were set-up by, to try to exploit as many synergies as possible.

Rise of double degrees and diversification of curriculum

This increased integration of business schools within universities is reflected in the growing number of double degrees or joint programs with other schools in the university, such as medicine, big data and analytics, design, law, or engineering. In the future this could lead to more business schools amplifying their focus on the post-graduate market to develop programs aimed at undergraduates.

The growing importance of business schools within the universities they were set up by, could also make them benchmarks for other research and teaching institutions based on the income they generate, the number of students they attract, or the popularity of their programs. Business schools’ growing contribution to their universities will also limit the resentment that has sometimes been expressed toward them by other departments within the social sciences.

Wide typology of Students

Millennials or Generation Z members are not the only potential students business schools need to be attracting. Demographic change and longer life expectancy—and thus later retirement ages—in the years to come, the biggest demand for education will increasingly come from older professionals.

In fact, since management is a science that evolves over time, surely it makes sense for managers to return to school to learn new concepts, new tools and to update their managerial skills. Managers cannot rely on what they learned 30 years ago in their MBA programs. Like medicine or architecture, management is a clinical occupation, requiring professionals to update their knowledge and skills. One conclusion that may emerge from the current financial crisis is the need for managers to return to school to update their knowledge and validate what they do in the real world.

Lifelong learning must become the norm for all executives. The phenomenon of modern ageing provides business schools with many opportunities. On the one hand by broadening the spectrum of their programs to attract older people, and on the other by identifying products and services directed at this key area of society.

Growth of online, technology based and blended programs

Technology has and will continue to have a profound impact in education and the learning process. It is expectable that the symbiosis between pedagogy and technology, the internet of things and new forms of augmented reality, will transform the way students and executives learn. The role of professors is already experiencing a significant transformation. In addition, training and educational programs, particularly with blended format, which combine traditional face-to-face learning with new forms of technology assisted learning may contribute to expand deep personal and professional relations among members of different ages.

All these trends are fostering competition at a national and global level, and making business schools adopt new strategies to adapt to a new environment that will change more rapidly than ever before. The business education landscape has grown beyond its traditional academic borders and comprises a number of new species, new forms of education, which are altering some of the basic suppositions and changing the rules of the game.




Über Professor Santiago Iniguez

Santiago Iñiguez de Onzoño is President of IE University and Dean of IE Business School in Madrid, Spain. In July 2016 he began a one-year term as chair of the Board of Directors of AACSB International (AACSB) as the first Chairman of the AACSB Board who is Dean of a non-US based Institution. Iñiguez is on the Boards of Renmin University Business School (China), CENTRUM (Universidad Católica, Perú), Antai Business School (Jiao Tong University, China), Mazars University (France) the Russian Presidential Academy-RANEPA (Russia) and FGV-EASP Fundaçao Getulio Vargas (Brazil). He has been portrayed by the Financial Times as “one of the most significant figures in promoting European business schools internationally.” Iñiguez holds a degree in law, a Ph.D. in moral philosophy and jurisprudence (Complutense University, Spain) and an MBA from IE Business School. He has co-authored several books on moral and political philosophy as well as articles and case studies on business Management. His book “The Learning Curve: How Business Schools Are Reinventing Education” deals with the future challenges of management education and was published by Palgrave McMillan in November 2011.