Canada Jam: November 2018
Canada Jam: November 2018 was the fifth in a series of regionally focused dialogues on business education. Held in partnership with the Canadian Federation of Business School Deans (CFBSD) at the annual Dean’s Conference, this unique conversation brought together leading business school deans from across Canada to discuss the future of business education globally, and in Canada.
The Jam was co-hosted by Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business on November 5th, 2018, at the Segal Graduate School building in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Video of the Jam can be found below.
The Jam began with a kickoff by Howard Thomas, Ahmass Fakahany Distinguished Visiting Professor at Boston University Questrom School of Business & Professor Emeritus of Strategic Management at Singapore Management University, followed by a brainstorm on critical challenges facing business education.
Topics discussed included:
- How can business education enhance its value to students, employers, and society?
- How will technology continue to challenge the model of business education? With alternative learning models/ players, at what point will traditional, physical Business School education be disrupted?
- How can academia and industry better collaborate to make sure that students develop critical leadership and management competencies?
- What roles should B-Schools and industry play in developing the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators?
- In a recent GMAC survey, Canada was the preferred destination for a MBA program for only 7 % of the respondents while 57% favored the US and 24% Europe. How can Canadian Business Schools increase their attractiveness to international students?
- How should Canadian business schools cope with the “push” for more STEM investments in order to improve Canada’s performance in innovation and entrepreneurship?
A summary of findings included:
1) How can business education enhance its value to students, employers and society? With regard to students, the participants suggested that students were now more motivated, coachable, and particularly were strongly engaged by ideas of corporate responsibility, sustainability and social value. The educators present suggested the following set of improvements:
- Gaining interdisciplinarity in courses
- Offering life-long learning to former students and companies to create relevance
- Building skills such as flexibility, creativity, learning, listening, dealing with complexity and ambiguity
- Developing skills in entrepreneurship and business formation
- Through project-based learning developing project management capabilities
- Encouraging faculty and student partnerships in at least two areas, namely joint case studies and enhancing digital capabilities
Overall, there was a stress on creating value in terms of management education’s relevance to business and society.
2) How will technology continue to challenge the model of business education? There was a broad issue associated with technology which related to how business educators should teach and technology opens up the question not only of where we teach, but also the technological tools that become common-place in instruction. There was also a general belief that students and faculty need to continually upgrade and increase ‘their digital and technological fitness’. Indeed, it was argued that students and faculty should work together in leveraging technology so that courses and other learning opportunities maximise use of technology.
- Building technological knowledge in the online environment
- Understanding how blended learning can enhance student learning
- Stressing that technology should enhance but not replace the teaching functions
- Stressing that technology is not a ‘silver bullet’. Technology will allow corporates and private education institutions to sometimes replace and occasionally reinvent existing business schools and business school models
3) How can academia and industry better collaborate to make sure that students develop critical leadership and management competencies?
- Developing co-ops and internship programs with business, government and industry.
- Addressing life-long learning through the development of applied learning modules
- Hiring more practice-oriented faculty
- Encouraging the growth of more engaged advisory boards
- Offering faculty industry sabbaticals to better understand business
- Collaborating to develop leadership skills particularly in the area of reflective leadership
- Promoting project and research-based learning, e.g. live cases could be co-produced between business schools and industry and incorporated in the curriculum
Overall, there was a great stress on the need to build better linkages and partnerships with industry and government. Interestingly, the potential value of business schools collaborating to share good practices and approaches was hardly mentioned, but when it was it was argued that business schools generally seek to compete and rarely collaborate effectively.
4) What roles should business schools and industry play in developing the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators?
- There was a general view that business schools need to build eco-systems involving collaboration with other faculties in their universities and using existing incubators much more carefully to generate innovation and innovators.
- The culture of our business schools must change so that we encourage our parent universities to refresh their views of entrepreneurial mindsets. They stressed also that such mindsets must exist both within universities and across other universities in the system.
- It was stressed that humanity and humility must be built into the innovatory process
5) In a recent GMAC survey, Canada was the preferred destination for an MBA program for only 7% of respondents, while 57% favored the US and 24% Europe. How can Canadian business schools increase their attractiveness to international students? At the outset, it should be noted that the GMAC survey was, in fact, out of date. Actually, in the most recent survey both Ali and Michel pointed out that the data have reversed and Canada had become much more attractive. An interview granted by Ali and Michel at the time of the conference and published in the Toronto Globe and Mail stressed that Canadian schools had, in the current year, attracted a large number of students because not only of reputation, but the ability of international students to gain visas more easily but also more importantly, obtain 3-year working visas after graduation.
- Do we know whether potential students see Canadian business schools as quality providers of management education?
- It was pointed out that business schools need to lobby and work closely with government and other authorities to ensure that student visas and work visa guarantees are made even more attractive to potential students
- Marketing Canada better and stressing the attractiveness of Canada as a study location is an urgent requirement. In short, Canada needs to communicate better with international students.
6) How should Canadian business schools cope with the ‘push’ for more STEM investments in order to improve Canada’s performance in innovation and entrepreneurship?
- Develop minors and electives so that business and science students interact in the educational process
- Build other pathways for interaction such as creating joint projects between business and science students in universities
- Encouraging broader collaboration across faculty in universities so that other avenues for business and science students are developed.
- Considering curricula change such as liberal management education which balances humanities and technical skills
Common themes across the entire Jam:
- Students are now more focussed on balancing social value with economic value
- Students need to be taught a broader set of skills emphasising flexibility, adaptability, ambiguity, agility
- The technological issues require continually upgrading both student and faculty awareness of how technology can be leveraged and used in the educational process
- Collaboration is a multi-faceted concept. It is agreed that partnerships within universities help innovatory processes and partnerships with business and government increase the relevance of business schools. However, while business schools talk about collaboration with each other it generally doesn’t happen because they prefer competition to collaboration
- There was questioning about where MBA’s fit in a business school’s teaching offerings. Should more effort be directed towards improvements in undergraduate management education.
- Communicating and defining Canadian identity, both broadly and in educational terms is clearly needed in further building Canada’s reputation as an education hub.