Thomas, H., Cornuel, E. and Harney, S. (2013), "Management Education: unfulfilled promises and new prospects", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 32 No. 5. https://doi.org/10.1108/jmd.2013.02632eaa.001Download as .RIS
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Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Management Education: unfulfilled promises and new prospects
Article Type: Guest editorial From: Journal of Management Development, Volume 32, Issue 5.
About the Guest Editors
Howard Thomas, BSc, MSc London, MBA Chicago, PhD, DSc Edinburgh, Fellow of the British Academy of Management, American Academy of Management, Academy of Social Sciences, Institute of Directors and the Strategic Management Society, is LKCSB Chair in Strategic Management and Dean of Lee Kong Chian School of Business at Singapore Management University. He came to Singapore from Warwick Business School, where he was Dean for 10 years. Prior to that appointment, he was Dean of the College of Commerce and Business Administration and was James F. Towey Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He is the past Chair of AACSB International, the Association of Business Schools in the UK and the Global Foundation for Management Education. He was Vice President for Business Schools for the European Foundation for Management Development for 2000-2007.
Eric Cornuel has been the Director General and CEO of the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) in Brussels since 2000. He holds a degree of Sciences Po from IEP Paris, an MBA from HEC Graduate School of Management, Paris, and a DEA in Strategy and Management from Paris Nanterre University, together with a Doctoral Certificate in Strategy from HEC Graduate School of Management Paris and a PhD in Management, written on International Network Organizations, from Paris Dauphine University. He started his career as an entrepreneur by setting up a hydroelectric power plant in France when he was still a student. He was also the Director of the HEC Institute for Central and Eastern Europe (Paris). He then served as the Dean of KIMEP, at the time the leading business and economics school in central Asia, from 1997 to 1999. He was awarded an honorary professorship for his achievements there. From 1996 to the present, he has been Affiliate Professor at HEC Graduate School of Management, Paris. He has taught for 15 years at various management schools in Europe and Asia. His key qualifications are in the areas of strategy, international management and entrepreneurship and he is a regular contributor to the Emerald management journals. He is, among others, a board member of the European Institute of Advanced Studies in Management, European Business Journal, International Journal of Business in Society, European Academy of Business in Society, International School of Business Management, and Global Foundation for Management Education (GFME). He also sits on the board of several companies.
Stefano Harney is Professor of Strategic Management (Education) at Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Singapore Management University.
At the beginning of his study Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the American University, 1880-1980, Christopher Newfield writes, “the university is a corporate and a utopian environment at the same time, and has been the central site for considering the possibility that once modernity had irreversibly delivered a world of organisations, the corporate might be made utopian, and the utopian might be post-corporate” (2003, pp. 4-5). As a one-sentence history of the modern university, and not just the modern American university, this summary contains much of the promise and much of contention that fuels the essays in this special issue. Too often management education has been seen as a mere antagonist in this history, emblematic of only one side, the corporate university. Thinking of the modern university as a site for negotiating these corporate and utopian impulses, but even more, as a site of imagining a reconciliation, even a transformation of these impulses allows us to put management education at the heart of this project. Where better to situate this negotiation and to place these hopes than in the midst of these two words, embodying as they do the coming together of the corporate and the utopian personality of the university. Management is at base the recognition that, as Newfield says, our modern condition has “irreversibly delivered a world of organisations”. While on the other hand education is fundamentally the conviction that humans are capable of growth and development. Management education therefore ought to be an even more concise summary of Newfield's own summary. Moreover these two words ought to signal the potential of this communion of the utopic and the corporate.
Indeed, the essays in this special issue all operate in one way or another at the nexus of this possibility. They also do so with a sense of urgency. There is a sentiment running throughout these essays that now is the time to get management education right. The rising tide of the global knowledge economy is lifting higher education but it is also taking the university into dangerous waters. As Randy Martin notes in Under New Management: Universities, Administrative Labour and the Professional Turn, “higher education and the professionals who dwell within and issue from its quarters are ever more present in the world. But with this growth has come not the touted consolidation of autonomy, or the privileged knowledge makers scaling society's heights, but a vertiginous interweaving of these people and institutions within a larger field that makes claims on what was once theirs alone” (2011, p. 25). Surrounded by the knowledge economy, the university has no choice but to look itself in the mirror and ask what makes it special in a world where so much knowledge is produced in so many different places from firms to not-for-profits to chat rooms, all outside the ivy-clad walls. For several of our authors, this is exactly the opening to be exploited. If in the past, some university leaders (and many faculty from beyond the business school) saw management education as a dangerous wedge allowing powerful outside interests into the university, those distinctions are no longer so easy to make. With knowledge being produced outside the university, and new management practices being instituted inside the university, more university leaders are looking to management education as a potential model of negotiating the new realities of the university where the corporate and utopian impulses will meet both inside and outside the university's increasingly porous walls.
This is evidently the case inside business schools where leaders are acutely aware of the need “to engage in a period of sustained reflection about the purpose of management education”, as Howard Thomas, Lynne Thomas, and Alexander Wilson state in the opening paper of this collection. The authors are encouraged by the response to this call. They note, “our evidence indicates a common refreshing concern about revitalising curricula and encouraging diversity in teaching and learning approaches”. But they end their contribution with a question: can management education change given the need for leadership that can “manage autonomy”, the conflicting goals of academic legitimacy and management practice, and the typically short tenure of leaders?
The question is taken up in the affirmative by Arnoud De Meyer who presents a concrete plan for changing doctoral management education. Clearly De Meyer is aware as a university president of global tides rocking universities. He points out that “the overarching driver for change is the development of our economies into knowledge economies, i.e. economies where knowledge becomes a major production factor, and where many of the employees are, to a large extent, knowledge workers”. As a result stakeholders are paying attention not only to undergraduate or even MBA education alone. But with the thirst for more knowledge in the economy, increasingly scrutiny is falling on doctoral education. De Meyer argues that doctoral education must change to meet these changing conditions. He is careful to attend to the utopian side of the university's historic mission, arguing for a continuing category of postgraduate research that stewards a discipline, and he is equally attentive to the importance of the fundamental values of research imbued through what he calls intellectual communities. But De Meyer also sets out a bold vision for a new complementary form of doctoral education, more collaborate, problem based, and aligned with the needs of society. He envisions that graduates of such a doctoral education “will not be exclusively committed to an academic career, but may switch back and forth between academia and practice in knowledge driven industries”.
Nonetheless a second contribution from a university president in this collection hints at tensions that still haunt the relationship between the utopic and corporate in the university as they draw to a head in management education. Johan Roos was appointed to the Copenhagen Business School (CBS) with the “mandate to rejuvenate CBS so that it would become more of an international business school, truly engaged with the business community and with impact beyond academia”, or as he would put it in his inaugural speech “sharpen CBS's blurred profile as a center for research vs a top teaching business school”.
Roos tells a fascinating tale of mining the lost art of rhetoric to accomplish this task. His is an example of the orchestra conductor that Thomas et al. see as necessary to managing the autonomous body that the sociologists Christopher Jencks and David Riesman called back in 1968 the “unified faculty” where shared governance came to mean shared management of the university (Martin, 2011, p. 2). But within two years the project is over and Roos has moved on, leaving us this record of rhetorical strategies.
In their contribution to this issue, Gary C. Fethke and Andrew J. Pelicano acknowledge the tensions implicit in the contribution by Roos, and the way that management education can still stand for the distance between the corporate and utopian impulses of the university. They admit that is difficult “to fault those who resist applying business-like approaches to core disciplines in public universities”, because, as they concede “there are public-good aspects to higher education in both instruction and especially in basic research”. But they see the receding of public support as the chance to introduce new means to maintain these public-good ends. If they do not suggest a full communion of the corporate and utopian, they do suggest the corporate has something to offer in the courtship of the utopian. Ultich Hommel and Roger King offer a specific example of the business school resources that come to the surface in a university now afloat in a sea of new realities, including new regulatory forms. Risk-based regulation may be seen cynically as a disguised cost-cutting measure by governments like the UK which have implemented it. But this new form of management whatever its true motivations nonetheless produces new realities. In the case of this new regulatory form, it produces risk, as all risk management does. But as Hommel and King note it also shines the light on the business schools as places where risk management expertise resides. Lifting risk management from its bureaucratic emptiness to what they call “state-of-the-art” risk management will allow universities to develop sophisticated approaches to risk that may turn the imposed regulatory system to their advantage.
But does management education have more to offer than the means to protect the utopic ends of the university? The evidence from Thomas et al. suggest so. So too does De Meyer not just in his attention to stewardship and community but in his analysis of the knowledge economy rising around the university. Because in distinguishing the university from the rest of the knowledge economy in which it now sinks or swims De Meyer turns our attention back to the difference between education and production, between learning and application. The larger knowledge economy certainly produces and applies knowledge, and in the inelegant phrase of contemporary strategy scholars, it “transfers” knowledge too. But one could argue that the knowledge economy does not educate. Implicit in education, and in management education too, however, unrealised, is a sense of human development for its own sake, of history to be learned but also protected, as in this notion of stewardship, and cultures in which to be immersed for the ethical contributions they have made to producing a common humanity. Thomas et al. write, “there is a felt need to understand, through the lessons of history, how business schools got it wrong during the global financial crisis”. That collective feeling is the desire for education, this valuing of history, ethics, and human development, and as much as we might want it to play a larger role in the knowledge economy, it remains the specialty, the distinction, that separates the university from the knowledge economy, as the wealthiest sector of the knowledge economy, the financial sector, has unfortunately made repeatedly clear.
That collective feeling has also found voice in the movement of business schools documented here by Katrin Muff. The 50+20 agenda which she calls “management education for the world” is the initiative of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Through a global “collaboratory” the council hopes to promote three interlinked drives. First they want to focus on leadership and producing responsible leaders, something that the other contributors would no doubt support. Second they hope to persuade business organisations to serve the common good, and third they recognise that for businesses to do this, there would have to be shifts in the economy relieving the current pressure on business to show profits above all else. It is a tall order, and certainly utopic, but clearly it has caught the imagination of many management educators joining in this collaboratory.
But as we have suggested at the outset, the utopic also resides imminently in education itself. In the closing contribution, Harney and Thomas return to the origins of the modern university in the work of Immanuel Kant. Here the distinction between the utopic and the corporate was first figured as the distinction between the lower faculty, philosophy, and the higher faculties like law and medicine, and today, most certainly, business. Kant believed a reconciliation of these faculties was both possible and necessary for society and that the university, that education itself, could be the grounds for that reconciliation. In this contribution, we try to imagine what such a tentative communion would look like, and use the example of Singapore Management University and the term liberal management education to speculate on the possibility that through education, through that which remains the privileged prerogative of the university, the corporate might indeed be made utopian, and the utopian might become post-corporate.
Howard Thomas, Eric Cornuel and Stephen Harney
Martin, R. (2011), Under New Management: Universities, Administrative Labour, and the Professional Turn, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PA
Newfield, C. (2003), Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the American University, 1880-1980, Duke University Press, Durham and London