If not the MBA then the master of business what, the Australian Business Deans Council asks its members in a new briefing paper crisply written by Leslie Falkiner-Rose. They replied with an admirable academic balance, pointing to continuing demand for the MBA on the one hand but also outlining emerging alternatives, notably:
chunks of knowledge: Ian Palmer (RMIT) suggests that business schools will eventually allow students “design the knowledge they want,” receiving credits for skills developed. According to La Trobe U’s Paul Mather life-long learning will lead to “smaller, chunk size executive education,” people take across careers. And Swinburne U’s Keryn Chalmers suggests course refreshers will include two or three day campus study blocks and units on gamification, design thinking and analytics.
online learning: Uni Wollongong’s Grace McCarthy suggests a place for entirely on-line MBAs but it depends on what students want; “if a part of what you are doing is developing your professional networks then I think you can actually do that better in the face to face space.” Then again, ABDC president Trevor Travaglione (Curtin U) says digital delivery suits some people and can help universities to reach “diverse and disadvantaged groups.”
what’s taught: “The future is interdisciplinary. We will increasingly see business schools working with engineering schools, science schools, schools of medicine,” Colm Kearney from Monash U predicts. “There’s a lot of lessons we can learn from the way we’ve been developing doctors, in particular to bring into management education using problems to actually develop knowledge and learning styles,” his Monash colleague Patrick Butler adds.
And there is more to business education, than business, as UniSouth Australia’s Marie Wilson points out: “business education has changed to be more engaging and to look at social challenges and social problems as well as P&L, which are still important but are only part of the picture.”