As I look ahead to my term as board chair of AACSB Inter national, I see many opportunities for our organization to have a profound impact on the direction of management education worldwide. Among the most demanding tasks we face will be implementing the new standards for business accreditation that members approved earlier this year. The consequences of that landmark vote will be felt for a long time as association staff, members, and schools seeking accreditation work to implement the new standards. Not only will we need to develop an educational process to familiarize members and review teams with the requirements of the new standards, but we must develop the capabilities that these standards demand.
One of the most important elements of the new standards is that schools will now be required to offer assurances of learning outcomes, which means that AACSB must study and advocate the best practices in this area. In addition, the new standards call for us to review certain areas of the curriculum and explore how schools can meet these requirements. For instance, last year the New Issues Committee considered issues relating to business ethics in the curriculum. This year, we have created a task force to develop a resource guide on the topic. That report will consider questions such as the following: What should be the goals of an ethics education? What are the core topics? What are the pedagogies and resources available? This resource guide will be reviewed by the Accreditation Quality Committee, which will determine what kind of guidance we can give to our review teams. For the benefit of our member schools, we also will consider setting up conferences and workshops that reflect the work of this committee. The topic of ethics will move from the New Issues Committee into the core of AACSB’s operating activities.
As I look ahead to the future of management education, I see a great deal that excites me because I know that business can make the world better.
While much work remains to be done to meet the ethics requirement, the assurance of learning requirement, and other components of the new accreditation standards, I am pleased to note that our infrastructure is firmly in place. While many committees are dedicated to improving the accreditation process, two will be instrumental in making sure the new standards are implemented. The Accreditation Quality Committee is charged with assessing how the peer review process is working and it is continuously improving its efforts. The Accreditation Coordinating Committee, which comprises the chairs of the various committees involved in all phases of accreditation, will work to ensure consistency across all committees. During this next year, we will spend a great deal of time communicating to our members, educating them, educating ourselves, and making sure the infrastructure serves our mission effectively.
In the next 12 months, we also will begin the process of revising the accreditation standards for accounting. The accounting standards take their lead from the business standards. Now that we have passed the new business standards, we can focus our energy on accounting accreditation.
In addition, this year we will respond to the report from the Doctoral Faculty Task Force. Analysis and initial research have been completed; now we must identify our next steps. We need to determine how AACSB will participate in solving the problem posed by the shortage of doctoral faculty. Our efforts will include broad communication of the extent and implications of such a shortage. We are also planning an advocacy campaign involving key constituents such as leaders in higher education, foundations, research-funding agencies, and the National Research Council.
As for AACSB’s ongoing initiatives, globalization remains key. We are making a great deal of progress in our goal of becoming a truly international organization. We now have workshops and conferences in Europe. Still, the composition of our board needs to include more international members, even though the number of such members has grown significantly.
As part of our globalization efforts, AACSB is considering a partnership with The European Foundation for Management Development (efmd) to create a new joint venture, The Global Foundation for Management Education (GFME). Through this foundation, our mission would be to identify the global challenges facing management education and research ways to address those challenges, while working with governments and corporations to advocate necessary changes.
Finally, we need to make sure we continue with the other key initiatives that have been building up nicely to date. These include the branding of AACSB accreditation; the investment in our knowledge services department; and the expansion of our publications, conferences, and member services.
We have worked very hard in the past few years to introduce worthwhile initiatives and make wholesale revisions to each of the major units within AACSB. What makes our accomplishments remarkable is that we brought these initiatives to fruition during a very difficult economy. This is the first year we can assess how well our efforts are tracking, and we’re pleased. But that doesn’t mean the job is done. We must work hard to be smart and effective about implementation. It is very helpful that the membership approved a new dues structure, for this will allow us an adequate budget to implement these new strategic plans.
The Future of Business
As I assume my duties as chair of AACSB, I am keenly aware of the foundation laid by former chairs and the AACSB staff. The AACSB board and many committees spend countless hours addressing critical issues and planning bold actions to shape our future. CEO John Fernandes and the AACSB staff have made it possible to realize big ideas through the grittiness of disciplined implementation and painstaking attention to details.
We all recognize that the environment in which we operate is extraordinarily demanding and dynamic. The new standards, structures, knowledge services offerings, accreditation summits, and global engagements are designed for flexibility, continuous learning, proactive assessment of strategic forces, and proper governance. We pledge our best efforts and thinking to enable our members to fashion opportunities from change and to welcome the future with the confidence that comes from preparedness.
As I look ahead to the future of management education, I see a great deal that excites me because I know that business can make the world better. I hope my professional work will make a small contribution to the big agenda. I am committed to the idea that those of us in business education, through the way we engage our students, can bring about a better society—one that achieves prosperity in ways respectful of people and the earth. I believe we can achieve a wisdom that balances the now with the future, the tangible with the intangible. I believe we can mold hearts that expand the boundaries of “we” and “us.”
I feel privileged to be in education; it is a generous profession. One generation prepares the next to go places and tackle challenges that we will not be here to see.