Defining the role of business schools

Baback Yazdani

Professor Baback Yazdani is Dean of Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University, UK.

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Baback Yazdani, Dean of Nottingham Business School, looks at how business schools across the globe might define their role.

Today there are more than 12,000 known business schools across the globe, and the number is increasing every year. This is due to an increasing demand from the global student population, people at work who wish to advanced their careers, and of course the employers of graduates in business and management.

According to data collected by the Association of Business Schools (ABS) in the UK, 1 in 7 undergraduate students are now studying business or a related subject. This amounts to some 200,000 students across the country. 70,000 postgraduate students study business, management and closely related subjects; about 12% of the total UK postgraduate population.

The growth observed in the UK, is also reflected across the world with many new business schools being set up. This growth is a function of demand. All stakeholders, but particularly the students themselves, expect a lot from the educational experience we in the business school community provide. This puts a special responsibility upon our shoulders.

The stakeholders of a business school are a more widely-spread community than might be first thought of. Figure 1 shows a representation of business school stakeholders.

Business schools can be classifi ed according to the main focus of their work, and how they interact with the wider stakeholders which make up the sources of their operating income. a great variety and diversity exists amongst schools, which refl ects how they see themselves and their role and place in the world and how they respond to the pressures operating in their markets. These pressures, and market choices, include price positioning, rankings, and institutional focus.

We can however draw three very broad categories:

1: Research Focused

2: teaching Focused

3: Integrationists

at one end of the spectrum there are those schools which aim to focus on excellence in teaching, and who build their market position around the teaching and learning experience. at the other end of the spectrum there are those that predominantly focus on research, reflecting the character of their client base and institutional heritage. these two positions can become quite polarised. a third position is what I call the ‘integrationist’ position; integrating research, engaging with business,
and bringing research and business insights into its teaching and learning experience.

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