Liberal Education Key to Business Success

John Johnson

John Johnson is a Boston-based freelance writer specialising in a wide variety of business topics, including education, technology, sustainability and marketing. He can be reached at jjohnson49@comcast.net

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A new form of business education that links business competences with a grounding in liberal arts and sciences is essential argues a new book. John Johnson reports.

The business world is undergoing tectonic change. From tiny start-ups to megacorporations, businesses are rapidly evolving as globalisation and the information revolution continue to create massive and disruptive course that will only accelerate in coming years.

As businesses seek to work more efficiently, increase profits and embrace corporate sustainability mandates, they need to react swiftly to the changes occurring around them. The old way of doing business – where silo departments worked autonomously and often for the good of their own group – no longer responds effectively or quickly enough.

In this new reality, a new kind of business education is needed – a fusion of core business competencies with a thorough grounding in the liberal arts and sciences. Today’s business practitioners must have knowledge of communication, science and technology, world culture, language and psychology among other liberal skills in order to operate successfully in the highly matrixed, global environment of 21st-century business.

Many business schools, however, have yet to adapt to the new principles required to prepare students for this business world, where training in the liberal arts and sciences can be just as crucial as traditional business studies.

A new book published by Palgrave Macmillan, Shaping the Future of Business Education: Relevance, Rigor, and Life Preparation, addresses these new realities facing business academics and educators around the world.

The book’s authors point to the need to produce well-rounded graduates who are capable of not only traditional tasks such as (for example) accounting but are also well versed in the ramifications of financial ledgers, what those numbers actually mean to an enterprise and how to best communicate them to senior-level management.

The authors include members of the business community and business educators from around the world, including nearly two dozen professors and lecturers from Bentley University, a business school in America that has successfully integrated liberal arts courses such as history and science into its curriculum.

Other contributors to the book include Anders Aspling, the Secretary-General of the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI), a joint venture between EFMD and the United Nations Global Compact, and Daniel LeClair, Executive Vice-President of AACSB

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