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[THE KOREA TIMES] Rethinking MBA education / Professor Kim Yong-min

Professional business education faces a tremendous challenge globally.

In the United States, the Graduate Management Admission Council reports sluggish growth or even a decline of applications for business schools (B-schools) in recent years.

In the Asia-Pacific region, many MBA programs have seen a decline of applications due primarily to a reducing number of domestic applicants.

Korean B-schools are no exception. The ratio of applicants to admissions of MBA programs, full-time and part-time together, fell from 3.55 in spring 2009 down to 2.31 in spring 2013.

The reduction of applicants is even more drastic. It dropped from 4,600 in spring 2009 to 2,560 in spring 2013, shrinking nearly to a half. At this point, some B-schools should seriously worry about their future.

Besides the statistics, numerous concerns have been constantly raised about the added value of MBA degrees around the globe.

A few popular criticisms include: (1) high-paying jobs are no longer guaranteed to B-school graduates; (2) the costs of two years of education are way too expensive; (3) professors at B-schools are only interested in doing research that has nothing to do with real world business problems; (4) even after graduation, students tend to gain general knowledge of management, yet lacking practical experience and leadership skills; and (5) there are so many undifferentiated B-schools all around the world that make MBA degrees less attractive.

There is evidence among companies in the U.S. that the value of MBAs has fallen. While MBAs still count in certain job categories, some companies have begun to hire college graduates who, in many instances, are just as talented as MBA graduates but willing to work for about half the salary.

According to the Wall Street Journal, there has been a significant increase recently in job opportunities for undergraduate students in financial services and even in manufacturing industries that used to be filled up by MBA graduates.To cope with these various challenges, B-schools started a number of innovativeapproaches.

First, cross-disciplinary pedagogical methods were introduced in their curriculum. For example, Rotman School of Management in Toronto launched an innovative course — Foundations of Integrative Thinking — in which students learn how to become model builder rather than model takers based on the lessons from design processes.

Ross Business School in Michigan has run a Multidisciplinary Action Project, an experiential learning course that places teams of four to six first-year MBAs in the real business setting of a company to learn how to integrate various business disciplines and bring theory and experience together into action.

Companies take active roles in this course provide sites and help students investigate current issues inside their own organizations.

So far, six hundred organizations of various types, domestic, international, entrepreneurial, and non-profit, have sponsored more than one thousand projects over 16 years.

In response to widespread criticism that B-schools educate students with too general and impractical knowledge, they have invented or expanded specialized Master’s programs that customize the needs of a particular management function, an occupation, an industry, or even a company.

While MBA enrollment shrank to the bottom in the past five years, specialized Master’s programs have seen a 37 percent jump over the past five years.

The domain of specialized Master’s programs varies greatly from traditional business functions such as finance or accounting, to areas focusing on a particular industry such as healthcare, tourism, or sports, to intensively specialized areas such as luxury brand management or business analytics.

For example, Stern School of Business at New York University runs a one-year, part-time master of science in business analytics, an advanced business degree program teaching students both to understand the role of evidence-based data in managerial decision making and to utilize data as a competitive advantage.

What about Korea? Well, you will be absolutely amazed if you realize there are so many innovative specialized MBA programs with so many interesting titles! Kookmin Graduate School of Business (KGSB), for example, opened the Korea’s first MBA in coaching and big data in recent years. KGSB’s MBA program in coaching specializes in training students to be experts in business coaching.

KGSB plans to obtain Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP) from International Coach Federation in spring 2014.

KGSB also offers an MBA program in big data starting in 2013. Integrating diverse knowledge and skills in management, statistics, and data science, the program aims to develop students able to analyze the data from holistic viewpoints and support decision making at higher ranks of an organization, public and private, based on facts, not on sentiments.

Students can choose one of two tracks, marketing analytics or business analytics.

Two more things are worth mentioning to assure the bright future of specialized MBA programs in Korea. As we may well agree, innovation comes from fierce competition among competing ideas, people, and programs.

Dean-wannabes of B-schools, however young or old, tall or short, male or female, should be able to compete among themselves in the labor market to become a dean. And as long as the dean stays effective, he or she should hold the position. We have to remember that innovative B-school programs come from innovative deans.

As said earlier, MBA education has been criticized for the generic nature of knowledge covered and absence of real business issues.

To avoid such handicaps, deans must come up with programs that tie theory in class to problem solving in the real world. For example, students should practice role playing as managers of various levels and types. Big data students need to have ample opportunities to analyze company data in the program.
Kim Yong-min is the dean of the Kookmin Graduate School of Business Administration.
In order to have such programs, innovative deans go places to persuade industry partners to join. Companies and B-schools would benefit from closer cooperation to create effective learning initiatives. Don’t forget again, innovative deans are not born, they are made through competition. Keep your heads up, deans!

원문보기 : http://koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2014/03/602_152536.html


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