EDITORIAL: The New Paradigm for Management Education

Increasing student opportunities and institutional performance through strategic alliances, mobile learning technologies and enhanced alumni participation.

Management education has come a long way since Sir Isaac Pitman initiated the first correspondence course in the early 1840s. Today, business schools are under growing pressure to engage in significant reforms due to the impacts of globalization, rising tuitions, technology, student demographics, and unprecedented economic uncertainty. These dynamics are impacting both the way management education programs are being marketed and delivered.

 

Three key ingredients in the ongoing reformation process include: 1) the establishment of strategic alliances on a global basis, 2) the adoption of mobile learning technologies, and 3) the expansion of alumni participation. Academic Analytics is the linchpin for effectively integrating these core elements into a comprehensive new paradigm for improving both student and institutional opportunities and performance.

 

The best way to predict the future is to create it! Peter Drucker (quoting Abraham Lincoln)

 

Higher education, in general, and management education, in particular, is undergoing a fundamental shift from a teacher-centric process to a learning-centric environment that focuses on customized learning. In management education this transformation is being fueled by the need to produce educated managers that can compete on a global basis. Today, most business schools are facing both intense competition and demanding customers. These forces tend to drive up the cost of student acquisition and retention. The emergence of the Internet generation as the new student body, who are web savvy and heavily engaged in social media, requires institutions to develop a more robust, real-time recruiting and retention capability.

 

… Custer at Little Big Horn — I’m not saying that I don’t accept some responsibility for what’s happened here today. But if our data-mining techniques had been a little more sophisticated, we would have known that this was a bad idea from the get-go… The Wall Street Journal, 11/24/12

 

Strategic Partnerships

 

The globalization of the economy has resulted in a dramatic increase in strategic business partnerships. Higher education is following suit. As an example, AACSB has recently announced the following institutional pairings:

 

  • Florida International University (US) with the University College of the Caribbean (Jamaica)
  • University of Reading (UK) with the International Center for Education in Finance (Malaysia)
  • Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal) with the Angola Business School (Angola)
  • Lancaster University (UK) with COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (Pakistan)
  • Groupe Sup de Co Montpellier (France) with Universidad ICESI (Colombia)

 

These illustrative groupings are designed to expand global educational opportunities, enhance institutional brand, leverage complementary strengths, and increase flexibility and convenience for students. Management education alliances, among other things, provide the vehicle for the virtual exchange of both students and faculty. Imagine a situation where a student is looking for an elective, but it is not being offered at their home institution at a convenient time or place. The student could instead register at a partner school that was offering a similar course. The same could apply to the faculty. Some specific characteristics of a management education alliance include:

 

  1. Centralized admissions process where applicants could specify their preference for one of the alliance schools, but would be considered by all the members.
  2. Maintenance of each institution’s mission, vision, tuition structure, and curriculum model.
  3. Centralized purchasing power such as textbooks and travel costs which will reduce the non-tuition costs for students.
  4. Integrated cloud platform offering dramatic cost reduction in IT support costs at each school while providing state of the art applications.
  5. Streamlined speaker series.
  6. Enhanced institutional stability and efficiencies.
  7. Common repository for student internships and employment opportunities.

 

Mobile Learning Technologies

 

Mobile learning technologies (MLT) provide the framework for implementing management education alliances. Typically mobile learning is defined as the acquisition of knowledge through conversations across multiple contexts via interactive technologies. MLTs embrace many options for presenting flexible content to students in both individual and collaborative contexts. MLTs are well-suited to meet the challenges associated with management alliances since they provide instructional content at a time, location, and pace convenient to the student. MLTs provide an opportunity for collaborative learning that can have a positive impact on the educational experience. Providing the broadest range of tutorial instruction options via mobile learning technologies optimizes the potential for effective learning. These exact same technologies can be used to connect faculty, administrators, and students with partner institutions on a global basis.

 

Alumni Outreach

 

Alumni should be a key player in both student recruiting and job placement. The degree of giving is one metric for measuring the commitment of the alumni community to the institution. At some institutions less than 3 percent of the alumni provide financial support. However, alumni, if properly motivated, can contribute in so many other ways including: student recruiting, mentoring, internships, and job placement. Typically all one has to do is to ask. One way to increase alumni participation in terms of time, talent, and treasure is through the use of an Analytics driven alumni collaborative network. Specific objectives of the network are:

 

1) To provide an outlet for interchange among alumni on the employment marketplace,

2) To identify pre-student recruiting opportunities, and

3) To provide university leadership a sounding board to interact with the alumni on critical issues.

 

The development of robust, sustainable, and accessible alliance-based exchange portal will allow alumni and educators to develop solutions to the current and future challenges facing management education. This initiative will spur increasing opportunities for connecting graduates to the global business community.

 

Why Analytics?

 

Institutions of higher learning are being inundated with growing amounts of archival and transactional data about student performance and administrative operations. Nevertheless, less than two-fifths of college presidents report that their institutions are “very effective” in using data to aid in the decision-making process.

 

Never before has there been a more important time for organizations to make better decisions based on fact-based Analytics. The financial crisis revealed the price of unreasoned assumptions, and today the same urgency applies to organizations in every industry. Pioneering companies are competing and thriving on using Analytics in a tough global economy that won’t tolerate intuition and chance. Thomas Davenport, Jeanne Harris, and Robert Morison, coauthors of Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Results

 

Recent evidence suggests that Analytics can assist in student recruitment and retention by leveraging the fact that some counselors are extremely successful in dealing with certain types of students. Matching prospective students based on given characteristics (e.g., educational background) to a specific counselor can significantly increase yield rates. Analytics can be used to look at past relationship data and develop an assignment schedule that optimizes recruiting outcomes. Additionally, Analytics can be employed to expand diversity by identifying a broader range of candidates with interests similar to the institution. Baylor University, the University of Alabama, Sinclair Community College, Northern Arizona University, and Purdue University were among the early pioneers in higher education to employ the Analytics paradigm on a wide scale basis. At these institutions Analytics is used to evaluate the entire recruiting process (inquiries, applications, acceptances, deposits) as a vehicle to enhance enrollment yields.

 

This process is very similar to the Analytics process used by the hotel, airlines and car rental industries. Yield management, used within the context of academia, is the technique of understanding, anticipating and influencing prospective student behavior to grow enrollments and thus revenue. Student seats are a perishable resource just like airline seats or hotel rooms. Once the school term starts an unfilled seat equates to lost revenue. Analytics provides the platform for expanding yields by examining patterns and proactively developing actionable plans that improve inquirer-to-enrollment conversion rates. In addition to improving administrative performance, Analytics can also be used for improving student managerial decision-making skills as well as assessing student performance. In this regard, a growing number of top ranked schools of business are now offering an Analytics emphasis in both their MBA and M.S. programs.

 

Action Plan

 

Establishing the overall culture for adopting the new management education paradigm is arguably the most significant challenge facing business school administrators. Typically, institutional change often comes with high initial costs and seemingly small early benefits. An Analytics driven, collaborative network provides a platform for helping overcome these perceptions. One of the primary functions of a collaboration network, in this context, is to provide like minded institutions with Analytics-based implementation strategies. Strategies that have been use successfully at one institution can often provide useful insights for other alliance schools. The integration of strategic alliances, mobile learning technologies and, alumni development via collaboration can serve as a dynamic catalyst to enhance student performance and opportunities, and improve institutional bottom line performance. All of this, of course, depends on establishing a plan of action.

Author of the article
Owen P. Hall, Jr., PE, PhD
Owen P. Hall, Jr., PE, PhD,

, holds the Julian Virtue Professorship and is a Rothschild Applied Research Fellow. He is a Professor of Decision Sciences at Pepperdine University’s Graziado School of Business and Management. He has more than 35 years of academic and industry experience in mobile learning technologies and business analytics.

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