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Business schools get a road map for change

The Globe's biweekly business-school news roundup.

Stay ahead of the curve is a maxim as applicable to businesses as those who teach about managing organizations.

Amid uncertainty over potentially disruptive modes of educational delivery (online or otherwise), increased global competition for students and faculty, and rising employer demand for innovative and socially-conscious graduates, business schools around the world are feeling the heat to adapt – or perish.

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With those pressures in mind, one of the major global accrediting bodies for business schools spent several years mapping out five aspirational goals for business education. A report called A New Vision for Business Education, released at the annual meeting of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business in Boston this month, urges business schools to become "drivers of change" that spark innovation, share relevant research, rethink delivery modes, train ethical leaders and, not least, contribute to global prosperity.

"There were so many rapidly evolving situations facing business schools and many were feeling under threat, and there were many reports out about the future of higher education using words like avalanche, tsunami or other dire words to frame what was happening," says Juliane Iannarelli, vice-president of knowledge development for AACSB, of the impetus for the report. "As we talked to members at business schools, we got the sense they wanted to be responsive to these new ways of working and education but [also] to be proactive in driving the future they wanted to see."

AACSB members are not required to implement the recommendations, which are not tied to future accreditation. Some schools already practise what the report authors preach, such as revamping curriculum, enlisting students and professors in real-time problems posed by business, creating incubators for profit and non-profit entrepreneurs, and conducting research on disruptive forces, such as digital technology and artificial intelligence, on business operations.

"We hope schools will use it [the report] as a first layer of stimulating discussion and brainstorming and planning to come up with strategies that work well for the market they serve," says Ms. Iannarelli.

Fear, she concedes, is a possible barrier to change, including concerns that a potential bold move could jeopardize a school's standing in all-important global rankings. But business schools that push the boundaries will see a positive pay-off, according to the report, by adopting new ways to combine theory and practice, experiment with teaching, learning and community outreach, and collaborate across the campus.

"It means going beyond the ivory tower," says Ms. Iannarelli. "We are strengthening the perception, rightly so, of business schools as advocates for the greater good. … We think that is an important message for business schools to say it is not just about profit generation."

AACSB accreditation and other honours

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At the AACSB annual meeting, the dean of Lakehead University's faculty of business administration proudly wore a badge recognizing his school's newly-certified accreditation (as of last November).

Since then, says dean Bahram Dadgostar, his Thunder Bay faculty has seen a spike up in applications from international students.

"For a small school like ours and others in Canada who would like to put a foot in the international market, this is essential," says the dean. He hopes his faculty's new status will aid marketing efforts in the student-rich Greater Toronto Area and, potentially, catch the eye of a possible donor interested in rights to name the faculty.

Meanwhile, from 300 global submissions, AACSB cited 30 business schools, two in Canada, for innovations in business education.

HEC Montréal was recognized for creating an experiential business history course that includes a 12-day, 500-kilometre bicycle trip for students to learn about Quebec's industrial development.

In addition, Piers Steel, a business leadership researcher at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary was recognized for his development of a new search engine tool that speeds the hunt for evidence-based information.

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Canadian professors named among global rising stars

Professors from three Canadian business schools made this year's list of the 40 most outstanding MBA professors in the world for their classroom teaching and academic research, based on an annual survey conducted by the U.S. business education website Poets & Quants.

The three Canadian winners are: Murat Kristal, an associate professor of operation management and information systems at York University's Schulich School of Business in Toronto and program director of its master of business analytics program; Yuri Levin, a professor of operations management at Queen's University's Smith School of Business in Kingston and director of its master of management analytics program; and Andras Tilcsik, an assistant professor of strategic management at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.

For the survey, students, alumni and school officials nominated 75 professors from 40 business schools worldwide.

Entrepreneurship news of note …

April 29 is the closing date for applications to a summer boot camp sponsored by Brescia University College in London, Ont., for female high-school students with entrepreneurial ambitions. For participation in three sessions held in May and June as part of Brescia's female entrepreneurship initiative, students must be nominated by a teacher or community member, according to the university college.

At Nova Scotia's St. Francis Xavier University, a $1-million donation from board chair Mark Wallace will be used to expand scholarships and bursaries for entrepreneurial students across campus, including those at the Gerald Schwartz School of Business, who want to set up a company or create a product in the profit or non-profit sectors.

The University of Victoria's Gustavson School of Business has named Linda Hasenfratz, chief executive officer of Guelph-based Linamar Corp., as its 2016 distinguished entrepreneur of the year.

Follow Jennifer Lewington and Business School News by subscribing to an RSS feed here.

Contact Jennifer at jlewington@bell.net

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