• September 1, 2015

Business Schools Worldwide Fall Short on Globalization, Report Says

Globalization is both the biggest opportunity and the greatest challenge for business schools worldwide as they struggle to keep up with the demand for graduates who can work across countries and cultures, says a report released today.

The 346-page report is the result of a three-year study by a task force of deans and scholars from top business schools worldwide. It offers a critique of the flurry of global activities that business schools have initiated in recent years.

Despite all those efforts, "a frustratingly wide curriculum gap remains alongside large risks of misdirected and incoherent strategies," says the report, issued by AACSB International: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

For instance, most business schools place more emphasis on studying abroad than on developing and integrating global content within the curriculum, the task force concludes.

That is largely because the number of new and prospective faculty members with significant global experience and insight is small, and schools' budgets are tight. And since scholars have relatively few outlets for publishing articles about global business issues, those who are hoping for tenure and promotions have fewer incentives to tackle complex international issues, the authors say.

The report includes nine case studies of globalization strategies used at schools on several continents. With so many choices for partnerships and programs, some business schools find the process a "paralyzing array of decisions and trade-offs," the report says.

Like Collecting Merit Badges

Robert F. Bruner, dean of the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business here, served as chair of the task force.

"So often, a successful globalization effort arises because of faculty who are passionate and knowledgeable about global business," he said in an interview this week. But "globally ready" faculty members are in short supply, the authors say.

"So many American faculty members are trained with reference to American markets," said Mr. Bruner. "But markets vary dramatically around the world, often in ways that violate standard assumptions that might apply in the United States or other developed economies." 

 To expand their global cachet, schools are under pressure to link up with partners overseas.

Mr. Bruner recounted a discussion with a business-school leader in East Asia who wanted to join forces. "In the middle of that conversation, he mentioned that his school already had alliances with 34 different institutions," Mr. Bruner said. Others have claimed nearly 100.

"It reminds me of the Boy Scout or Girl Scout who's collecting merit badges," he said.

Peter L. Rodriguez, associate dean for international affairs at Darden, added his own analogy.

"Everybody wants to link up with the best dance partners," he said. "If you're a top school in China, you're the belle of the ball." On the other hand, "a lot of schools are pretty promiscuous. Some of their connections amount to a couple of pixels on a Web site."

Mr. Rodriguez is working to start a global executive-M.B.A. program at Darden, which will bring executives from around the world together for a 21-month session that will include six two-week study trips to Brazil, India, China, Europe, Charlottesville, and Washington. The program will begin in August.

No Global 'Canon'

Even in financially challenging times, business schools need to expand their global reach, said Hildy Teegen, dean of the University of South Carolina's Moore School of Business, who also served on the task force.

"The demand is growing at an exponential rate, both in terms of the number of students globally who have entered the middle class and can afford business education, and the demand from business," she said.

At the same time, schools are struggling to provide international case studies and broader course content because of a shortage of business faculty members who have both Ph.D.'s and meaningful international business training, she says.

Another co-author is Pankaj Ghemawat, a professor of global strategy at the IESE Business School, run by the University of Navarra, in Spain. In 2009 he dismissed as "globaloney" the idea that regional differences don't matter when solving the world's business problems.

"In a world best characterized as semi-global, to attempt to reduce international management education content to a global 'canon' makes little sense," he wrote.

Courses should instead delve into the cultural, legal, and economic differences across countries and the implications these have for international business, he says.

John J. Fernandes, president of AACSB, hopes the report will spur more schools to action.

"We've been a leader in trying to globalize higher education's thinking process for some time, but we're not exactly leading a path of runners in this exercise," he said. Globalization is labor-intensive and expensive, he acknowledged,

"Many believe they can wait it out until retirement and it'll be someone else's problem."

Mr. Bruner, the Virginia dean, said he hoped the report would help business schools "pick up their game" when it comes to globalizing. "The big takeaway from this report is the sobering message that schools can't hide from globalization," he said, describing it as an "inexorable and disruptive force of change." That is true for even the most regional business schools.

"Businesses serving local constituencies may think their competitor is simply on the other side of town when, in reality, it or its suppliers may be halfway around the world," he said.

The report, "Globalization of Management Education: Changing International Structures, Adaptive Strategies, and the Impact on Institutions," is available free to members of the association and can be purchased by others. Information is available on the association's Web site.


1. 22260556 - February 10, 2011 at 08:31 am

It took AACSB heavy-duty deans three years to reach these conclusions? That is prima facie evidence on where academic leadership, and not just in business schools, falls short.

2. malhotrad - February 10, 2011 at 08:57 am

Most of the smaller schools only use this word only because it is the new buzz word. There is clear cut lack of commitment from the top administration. I do not think many administrators even understand the meaning of the world "Globalization".

3. dank48 - February 10, 2011 at 10:37 am

This is hardly the only, or even the most important, way in which business schools fall short.

4. justoneopinion - February 10, 2011 at 11:39 am

Most small business schools rely too much on academic research based on decades old data that has little basis in reality to teach about the world. If you spend years living overseas getting real world experience it means little as the entrenced faculty feel threatened by your presences.

5. justoneopinion - February 10, 2011 at 11:40 am

sorry "presence"

6. 12080243 - February 10, 2011 at 03:03 pm

When AACSB is challenged with real problems, it fails. Here's an example of not just AACSB failure but active participation in misconduct to support a fellow dean. All done in secret and learned through Mississippi Open Records requests.

See, "University and AACSB Diversity," published in the proceedings of the American Accounting Association Annual 2010 Meeting (http://commons.aaahq.org/post/3d4bfd4201), for a discussion of how the University of Southern Mississippi punished a professor who brought to the attention of USM faculty and administrators, and then to the AACSB, faculty plagiarism. Also see www.usmnews.net for documentation that supports the failed procedures used by President Martha Saunders and Interim Dean Alvin Williams to punish the professor for asking questions about USM's plagiarism. The College of Business at USM still reports the copied Academic Integrity Policy on its website that it took from Syracuse University "without proper citation"--a term used by USM faculty plagiarizers. Note that Syracuse provided extensive citations for the sources of ideas and words of its Academic Integrity Policy but when USM's College of Business copied Syracuse's Academic Integrity policy, its faculty and administrators did not copy Syracuse's citation list nor give credit to Syracuse. Since USM's Academic Integrity Policy was prepared for the reaccreditation process, the AACSB was among those who received the plagiarized Policy. The AACSB was advised of the plagiarism but it decided that the plagiarized Academic Integrity Policy did not violate AACSB standards and participated in the punishment of the professor who raised the issue. These secret decisions were learned only through Mississippi Open Records requests.
Chauncey M. DePree, Jr., DBA
School of Accountancy
College of Business
University of Southern Mississippi

7. carlinrob - February 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I believe that AACSB is as culpable as the institutions it faults. The inward-looking policies exposed by this association does little to further the debate and possibilities of a richer educational experience. I find that the only "international" component of AACSB is in the added "name" placed in front of it's association and the addition of a few international member institutions. Rather than promote international aspects of globalization, it encourages others to conform to outdated "American"standards.

Robert Carolin

8. carlinrob - February 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I believe that AACSB is as culpable as the institutions it faults. The inward-looking policies exposed by this association does little to further the debate and possibilities of a richer educational experience. I find that the only "international" component of AACSB is in the added "name" placed in front of it's association and the addition of a few international member institutions. Rather than promote international aspects of globalization, it encourages others to conform to outdated "American"standards.

Robert Carolin

9. carlinrob - February 12, 2011 at 12:50 pm


Add Your Comment

Commenting is closed.

  • 1255 Twenty-Third St., N.W.
  • Washington, D.C. 20037
subscribe today

Get the insight you need for success in academe.