Deans Across Frontiers

Chris Greensted

Senior Advisors in the EFMD Quality Services Department

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As EFMD launches its Deans Across Frontiers initiative, Professor Chris Greensted looks at its mission of promoting excellence in business and management education worldwide.

EFMD’s social responsibility

EFMD has a mission to “promote excellence in business and management education worldwide”. This is partly fulfilled by its existing accreditation systems which are aimed at the top 10% of schools, about 130 in EQUIS and 50 in EPAS to date. While these systems have been very successful, EFMD also has a social responsibility to support all levels of schools, whether they are members of EFMD or not, but especially those that are constrained by resources. The launch of the Deans Across Frontiers (DAF) initiative is the response to this need.

There are an estimated 13,000 business schools worldwide. This staggering number encompasses a huge variety of structures, goals, resources, markets, and programmes. They will also be at different levels of development and quality. Around 1,000 schools have gained some form of international accreditation (EQUIS, AACSB or AMBA) and thus have achieved market recognition for a certain level of quality. Even so, international accreditations can signify different quality levels. (See the weighting system used by the French newspaper L’Express/L’Etudiant in its ranking calculations published December 2011.

Accreditation is not only about providing market information to help future students, employers and corporate clients to choose a school. Arguably more importantly, these accreditation systems are more concerned with fostering quality improvement through a process of international benchmarking and offering peer advice on areas for improvement. Therefore this means that only 1,000 schools are in a structured international process for improvement out of the 13,000. How can EFMD help the others to develop further?

The perceived need

Economic development depends on having an educated and trained workforce, including management capable of giving leadership and direction. University level business schools play an essential role in developing that management cadre. The quality of business schools therefore impacts directly on the quality of management and hence on the speed of economic development.

However many business schools in both developed and developing countries have a mainly local focus, and can lack resources, access to a good quality pool of students and faculty, and sometimes have to operate within a heavy regulatory environment. There is often a lack of clarity as to what constitutes a good or excellent business school. In such circumstances, external guidance or advice of a strategic nature would be beneficial not only to the business school but also to the parent institution or university.

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