Business, Singapore Management University. Professor Thomas is internationally recognised as a leading expert in the field of strategic management. He is the author, co-author or editor of many
acclaimed management books, including the Handbook of Strategy and Management (2001), Strategy: Analysis and Practice (2005) and
Strategic Leadership in the Business School (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
Latest posts by Howard Thomas (see all)
- Africa: the management education challenge - June 21, 2017
- Does Africa Need an “African” Management Education Model? - June 16, 2016
- What is the European management school model? - July 18, 2016
Business schools need to focus more clearly on their dynamic capabilities in order to re-invigorate and re-develop themselves and their students.
If business schools are to be persuaded to embrace the strategic management concept of dynamic capabilities (which we believe they need to do), two perspectives are involved:
First, a review of the most relevant, appropriate and useful capabilities and qualities that management educators should develop in their students. These capabilities (also known as “core competences” or “strategic assets”) represent an organisation’s capability to deploy resources, usually in combination, through organisational processes to achieve superior long-term performance.
Such capabilities may include expertise in the areas of leadership, strategy, innovation, people management and delivery/customer service. These represent different kinds of skills, organisational systems, routines and so on. The management educator must make choices regarding which to focus on and nurture in their students in order to produce impactful, practical managers.
Second, there needs to be a thorough examination of the dynamic capabilities of the business school itself, addressing effectively the challenges of impact, relevance and competition.
Dynamic capabilities for students and the curriculum
Management educators have long questioned whether there is “a theory of managing”, and whether the necessary capabilities and qualities that should be developed in their students are clearly understood.
Basing our analysis on Henry Mintzberg’s 10 managerial roles, there are clusters of interpersonal, informational and decisional skills. Reinterpreting these, it is argued that management education should increasingly embrace a cross-disciplinary, holistic and interactive philosophy that covers:
- the intellectual skills of analysis, criticism and synthesis (advocated by Cardinal Newman and other proponents of liberal education)
- the study of the domain of management knowledge, (ie knowledge skills about the structure and functioning of organisations, including process skills about the interactions and interfaces between the different functions, for example marketing, finance and so on
- the range of Mintzberg’s interpersonal skills, including imagination, vision and leadership capabilities
- the multi-disciplinary nature of the managerial skill set required to develop the broader skills of global and cultural intelligence. This includes the need to be sensitive to ethical and socio-cultural differences and the adoption of a holistic view of the enterprise in global networks
The challenge for business schools is to produce students who have the skills, flexibility and training to compete in the new economy defined by globalisation, social responsibility and technological change.
For the full article, please read the PDF or listen to the Podcast and find out about: Managerial capabilities; Leadership and dynamic capabilities; Greater faculty differentiation; New competitors; Finances.
Many of the ideas in this article are based on the authors’ book: The Business School in the 21st Century.