Andrew Crisp reports on a major new study that explores the future challenges facing business schools.
Turmoil is probably too strong a word but “uncertain” may not be strong enough to describe the landscape that business schools are operating in today.
Much has been written and many conference speeches given about the impact on business schools of the global financial crisis, growing international competition, the importance of sustainability and ethics, and more recently the likely impact of new technologies.
To put some data behind these predictions and get a view of what students and employers are thinking, CarringtonCrisp, with the support of EFMD, has recently run a new study called See the Future. With 5,375 respondents drawn from 137 countries, the data clears away some of the fog for those planning their business school’s future.
Conducted online, the study sought to seek the views of prospective students, current students, alumni and employers. Questions were set out under five broad headings: the role of business; the value of a business education; sustainability, ethics and corporate social responsibility; internationalism; and the place of technology. Data was collected in May 2013.
The good news is that more than seven out of ten respondents believe business is a force for good in society. However, few expect business to continue as it is. The same number also expects business models to change to allow better engagement with society. Over 81% agree that business and business education needs to be about more than just maximising shareholder value.
The starting point for the study was to understand better the attitudes to business as a whole. Recent media coverage of business, whether it has been the performance of the banks, chief executives of car companies using executive jets when their businesses are failing, youth unemployment in the eurozone or even cities going bankrupt in the US, will undoubtedly influence perceptions especially among young people.
While an overwhelming majority of respondents agree that business leaders should behave ethically at all times, 8% of prospective undergraduates disagree and the number rose to 15% among current postgraduates from China and 13% of current Indian undergraduates.
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