Written by Alyssa Walker

BusinessBecause recently traveled the world to determine the trends that will shape this year's business education. Last year, they said that business school deans predicted digital disruption, virtual learning, and social responsibility.

This year, the predictions vary. At the top of their list? The emergence of specialized MBAs in Asia-Pacific. Aditya Singh, director of the Athena School of Management in India, said, "The MBA has a bright future in India. Its growth in popularity and demand will continue to be propelled by the twin pillars of corporate expansion and rising entrepreneurial ambitions resulting in start-ups. Also, international applications will continue to rise."

Imperial College Business School's associate dean, Leila Guerra, predicts that European business schools will adapt to global change. She said, "Higher education is at a crossroads and requires a revolution to address uncertainty, volatility, and the overwhelming offer of information, in addition to a demographic and generational change, and a shifting economy. European schools will have to work closely with students and faculty to maintain their impact on business, design impact-driven curriculums, and integrate technology more effectively into the classroom."

Most deans predict that business schools will focus more on social problems, foster a spirit of innovation and collaboration, and more networking between business schools and businesses. Inge Jan Henjesand, president of BI Norwegian Business School, gives the example of the FOME (Future of Management Education Alliance) agreement signed earlier this year between itself and other high ranked business schools, adding that it is a good example of how partnerships can redefine and digitize current programs. 

He added, “I believe the combination of protectionism, digitization, and a more volatile global economy will be picked up by business schools and turned into programs or directions with specialized content. The global economy has not healed entirely since the financial crisis of 2008-9, and I believe the programs on offer will show a greater degree of differentiation to reflect competence gaps in the markets.”

Frenz Heukamp, dean of IESE Business School in Spain, calls for business leaders who understand they are in a privileged position and who seek to "listen to the wider public to tackle [...] tricky problems" within society.

While digital disruption is nowhere near ending, there's a strong sense that the MBA will continue to thrive. Why? Raghu Sundaram, dean of NYU's Stern School of Business, said, "The MBA experience provides critical skills -- the opportunity to study both the language of business and cultivate the ability to inspire people to action. The relevance of the MBA education will not go away."


Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.
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