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NEWS
Jacques Pauw - SA's immediate future remains bleak
Jacques Pauw - SA's immediate future remains bleak

2017: Truly an incredible year in South Africa
2017: Truly an incredible year in South Africa

Gordhan urges concerned citizens to step up
Gordhan urges concerned citizens to step up

The evolution of leadership
The evolution of leadership

Worrying erosion of Ubuntu in South Africa
Worrying erosion of Ubuntu in South Africa

The role of the private sector in higher education
The role of the private sector in higher education

The 4 most common questions about MBA programmes resolved
The 4 most common questions about MBA programmes resolved

Lack of accountability & ethics at heart of government rot
Lack of accountability & ethics at heart of government rot

SA's finance minister fails to come up with the goods
SA's finance minister fails to come up with the goods

Impact of political and policy uncertainty in SA
Impact of political and policy uncertainty in SA

Milpark MBA ranked 1 in the higher education private sector
Milpark MBA ranked 1 in the higher education private sector

Predicted decline for UK universities could benefit SA
Predicted decline for UK universities could benefit SA

New Energy Leadership Centre another first for Africa
New Energy Leadership Centre another first for Africa

Fashion success for small businesswoman
Fashion success for small businesswoman

The challenge of raising more authentic leaders
The challenge of raising more authentic leaders

New director of NWU SBG is ready to take on the challenge
New director of NWU SBG is ready to take on the challenge

Equal but different – Dr Judy Dlamini
Equal but different – Dr Judy Dlamini

The people imperative
The people imperative

Milpark donates to the Greater Benoni Child Welfare
Milpark donates to the Greater Benoni Child Welfare

New leaders needed to make companies fit for the future
New leaders needed to make companies fit for the future

What can firms do to prevent sexual harassment?
What can firms do to prevent sexual harassment?

Share repurchases and directors’ remuneration
Share repurchases and directors’ remuneration

Is Eskom in a financial death spiral?
Is Eskom in a financial death spiral?

5 things to consider near the end of the year
5 things to consider near the end of the year

Making the (down)grade: Can SA innovation weather the storm?
Making the (down)grade: Can SA innovation weather the storm?

Long-awaited GSB academic conference centre takes shape
Long-awaited GSB academic conference centre takes shape

Where are all the good guys?
Where are all the good guys?

Crisis in country calls for ethical leaders
Crisis in country calls for ethical leaders

The fates of SA and Zimbabwe are linked
The fates of SA and Zimbabwe are linked

The four essential pillars of future-focused learning
The four essential pillars of future-focused learning

'South Africa from hero to zero... and back again?'
'South Africa from hero to zero... and back again?'

Is the MBA still the most desired business degree?
Is the MBA still the most desired business degree?

Actis sponsors international scholarships
Actis sponsors international scholarships

UCT GSB Centre partners with UN research council
UCT GSB Centre partners with UN research council

Medium Term Budget more of a holding operation than a plan
Medium Term Budget more of a holding operation than a plan

To do an MBA or not to do an MBA?
To do an MBA or not to do an MBA?

GIBS again ranked as Africa's top MBA in FT rankings
GIBS again ranked as Africa's top MBA in FT rankings

New MBA timetable starts in 2016
New MBA timetable starts in 2016

EVENTS
Henley Africa MBA & PGDIP Open Day
Henley Africa MBA & PGDIP Open Day
27 January 2018,
Johannesburg



03 OCTOBER 2017
The future of business education
by Prof Eon Smit

Many of those who reflect on the future, appeal to the past for guidance on the premise that "the future is contained in the past" – frequently doing so successfully in situations where problems are well defined and tractable, where history repeats itself in a discernable pattern or evolves following a well-established trend, alternatively where known lead-lag relationships provide early signals of future developments. The history of management education provides a case in point illustrating how educational content follows business-led practices, technological progress or, by exception, mere fads or silver bullets, as some examples may illustrate.

A century ago business teaching emphasised scientific management and the optimisation of production, following Taylor and Ford's respective leads in the application of respectively work study and mass production, a little later to teach the concepts of brand management, as popularised by McElroy at Proctor and Gamble. During the sixties, business teaching followed business practice by promoting corporate growth, diversification and management by numbers with a resulting emphasis on analytics and quantification. In latter years developments in information technology led to a teaching emphasis on business re-engineering and still later, knowledge management. In reaction to the corporate excesses and accompanying failures of the past two decades - for which business school education had to shoulder a significant portion of the blame - schools took the lead by accentuating sustainable practises, good governance and ethical behaviour, resulting in a new perspectives on leadership, while simultaneously following business practice in preparing future managers for the challenges of global business.

Today most of these ideas, amongst others, due to their timeless relevance, compete for the attention span of overworked business students, while educators still face the perpetual challenge of providing learning for individuals, organisations and society aligned with their current best view of the demands to be placed on future leaders, trying to provide guidance in terms of purpose, destiny and direction, while developing knowledge, skills and values. Progressive business education institutions are already investing in the intellectual capital and delivery systems required to successfully compete on a playing field increasingly characterised by hyper-competition, technological change and innovation.

Analysis of current and recent trends in curriculum development, with an eye on the most probable educational needs of the workplace, point to, inter alia, knowledge and skill requirements in the broad (and sub-) domains of:

  • critical thinking abilities
  • big data analytics
  • digital disruption and digital media
  • innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship
  • artificial intelligence and machine learning and
  • science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) oriented industries in general.

While recent trends in educational delivery systems include:

  • technology mediated learning, blended learning, distance learning, mobile learning and online global learning, all supporting individualised, customised instruction
  • experiential education (internships and field-based projects)
  • project based teamwork
  • incubator and laboratory learning (including virtual reality)
  • the gamification of learning
  • the international integration of classrooms and international team activities and competitions
  • collaborative applied research in organisations and
  • learning through consultation.

The newly emerging educational universe will call for new institutional arrangements, factors and processes of production, as well as recalibrated business models replacing those that have become the industry norms over the past century. It is doubtful whether even the top schools in the world will currently command either the intellectual capital or the technological means to design and offer a significant proportion of the above content by way of the spectrum of new modalities listed.

Strategic choices will have to be made amongst the different knowledge domains and the accompanying delivery systems, keeping in mind the competitive positioning of the institution, the access to resources and the academic maturity and prior knowledge of the students, the clients and the business environment. Extremely scarce intellectual capital will have to be sourced in competition with the industry – to a lesser extent than now on a permanent basis. The most successful institutions in this regard will probably be those that can access scarce expertise from other departments, faculties or learning institutions, or from industry agreements on a collaborative basis. Within a university context, departments teaching computer and information science, and faculties of engineering and health science come to mind naturally, although not exclusively. Debatably, the most valuable co-operation, however, will be with world-class industries rooted in technological and information-age development and applications. The educational environment will most probably be characterised by one that is trans-disciplinary and collaborative – critical people capabilities of the future, unlocking the managerial potential to be at ease with both societal (humanistic) and scientific demands, in command of practical wisdom (Aristotle's "phronesis") and capable of solving deep global problems including those of business. Research will be judged to a far greater extent by real-world impact and will form the binding force of the extended learning platforms, creating in the words of Whitehead "a band of imaginative scholars and practitioners" in acknowledgement of a future reality where incremental and discipline-bound research will produce neither the questions nor the answers to solve future problems of increasing complexity.

The "New Age" of management holds implications for the business models and sustainability of business schools. We are currently experiencing a global drive in different modalities of on-line learning, which may lead to the massification of business education resulting in hyper-competition with prices being driven down to marginal costs. The leading schools should emerge (as in the past) as those commanding the highest quality of intellectual capital and most efficient delivery modalities, creating advanced learning outcomes highly valued by the market place. It would not be surprising to see the currently well-resourced institutions heading up the leaders' lists again. However, given the scarcity and the corresponding price of future scarce resources, it is possible to imagine that the inequality coefficient between educational institutions will increase, with fewer winners and more losers and with the developing world, in the absence of targeted support, falling further back in this Fourth Industrial Age.

In the new world of disruptive change, Black Swan events, however, are more likely than in the past to speed up, delay or totally invalidate our best held views of the future. It does not relieve us of the duty to try to future-proof our own futures and those of our institutions in the light of existing insights.

Professor Eon Smit is Emeritus Professor and past Director of the University of Stellenbosch Business School. He is also a member of the Boards of USB-ED and TSIBA Education. He is a past Advisory Board member of the University of Hull Business School in the UK and Professor Extraordinaire at Potchefstroom Business School. He has chaired more than forty international business school audit teams for accreditation agencies such as EQUIS, AMBA and the South African CHE?.

Source:

USB Executive Development (USB-ED)
USB Executive Development (Pty) Ltd, USB-ED, is the private executive development company of Stellenbosch University. We develop and connect leaders through innovative and transformational learning experiences because we believe that empowered leaders can bring about change. Our leadership and management executive development (short course) programmes are suitable for the private and public sectors and for individuals’ intent on carving their own future in business. Visit our website.

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