What’s next for business schools?

What’s next for business schools?
Published: 
June 2013

In our third issue of Momentum, we challenge business to consider: ‘What’s next?’
At UQ Business School, it’s not merely a question, it‘s our strategic position.

With our agenda of relevance, reach and impact, UQ Business School is reshaping business education to meet the needs of today’s leaders and tomorrow’s. And like all dynamic organisations, we are committed to asking, always, what’s NEXT?

The business school model emerged in the United States in the early twentieth century. As industry has evolved and the business landscape has shifted, the model has matured. Management is now a profession and the world’s business schools have been established at the centre of research into new theories and practises of business.

But this is the 21st century. The engine of economic growth is no longer the United States. The global landscape continues to change and business schools must work to remain relevant.

UQ Business School sits at a junction between two systems: the giants of Asian economic growth and the abundant potential of the Pacific region. And we are in the early stages of a new industrial era, with the full impact of knowledge and communication technologies, not to mention medical advances and demographic shifts about to remodel our understanding of ‘business as usual’ once again.

The model of business education that has relevance today and will impact into the future is being forged at schools like UQ Business School. The challenge we face is to support business to find new and better ways to deliver shareholder value, while at the same time equipping business leaders to contribute to the debate and resolution of the significant global, complex and, in many senses, yet to be defined business, social and environmental challenges that have emerged.

UQ Business School’s answer to the question or what’s NEXT? in management education is clear and compelling. We will set our agenda according to three dimensions: relevance, reach and impact.

RELEVANCE

Business schools like ours sit in universities. They are defined and strengthened by independent research, scholarly publications and deep expertise. They create a wealth of intellectual property that is an unrivalled resource for business leaders and policy makers.

From that foundation, business education must respond to the challenges that business practitioners face daily. They must provide the practical skills – accounting, leadership, analysis, strategic decision making – but there is more. Business schools can assist leaders to develop their wisdom, insight, and ethical parameters to consider old problems in new ways, and to tackle new problems with innovative approaches and judicious risk taking.

At UQ Business School, it is our mission to perform at the highest level of peer-reviewed academic research. We also believe it is a priority to provide opportunities to unlock this knowledge, to talk the language of business practice and to work in partnership with business so that the work we do can inform and contribute to today’s issues for the benefit of all.

REACH

It’s a global economy. Business is looking for leaders who can operate on the world stage. This means experience in international business contexts, exposure to different markets, sensitivity to the vast array of cultural and political frameworks.

UQ Business School attracts students who value an international dimension to their business practice, who see business education as a step to making an impact beyond their country or region.

Queensland employers operate on this world stage. Our leading industries – energy, tourism, agriculture – compete in the global marketplace. Sitting between the economies and markets of Asia and the potential of the emerging Pacific region, UQ Business School is international in its DNA. Our staff and student body represents 110 nationalities.

The Wharton Global Consulting Practicum is the premier international opportunity. Twice a year UQ Business School and Wharton MBA students take on international consulting challenges for real world clients.

The first project born of the UQ Business School–Wharton partnership which formed three years ago, was a US entry plan for Australian sports and fashion retailer, Lorna Jane. Lorna Jane has just opened its 15th store in Southern California, expanding to Northern California and Colorado later in 2013.

IMPACT

Companies shape the communities around them. They create jobs, invest in infrastructure, innovate, train, use scarce resources and create supporting markets. More and more businesses understand that this connection to the communities in which they do business is not one-way.

At UQ Business School we are seeing a proportion of business students seeking qualifications to help them create social impact businesses, both in the not-for-profit and the private sectors. Wise decision making, social engagement programs and movements like ‘responsible capitalism’ are opening the debate into how to build a firm’s purpose beyond profit.

Our Social Economic Engagement Programs (SEEP) develop business skills by working on social impact problems. Since 2010, over 110 MBA students have been involved in more than 30 programs with 20 different organisations, designed to challenge students to build their capability to exercise leadership in the community.

In a recent project, MBA students visited Fiji to investigate ways to improve the livelihood of pearl farmers. The work was carried out in conjunction with an Australian government initiative to boost agribusiness in the Pacific.

Our students volunteer for these projects. They receive no credit or assessment, but their commitment has forged ongoing relationships with organisations as diverse as as Yalari, OzHarvest and Youngcare.