Western business schools have been looking east for at least ten years as they sought ways to expose their students to business in China and other Asian countries. But as the world’s economies grow more complicated and interconnected, business schools are searching for ways to give students and faculty more extensive and meaningful experiences overseas. The goal is to make sure tomorrow’s business leaders develop a truly global awareness that will see them through careers likely to play out over multiple postings on multiple continents.
To discover how business schools are preparing their students for the next phase of international education, BizEd talked to institutions that have had a strong presence in Asia for a considerable period of time. Inevitably, they have changed their programs to meet the changing demands of business. But even more important, they have developed initiatives that will embed these programs more deeply in Asian culture, and they are planning expansions to other parts of the world. As business education becomes more global, representatives from these business schools emphasize that they too have added an element of “more” to everything they do. They’re bringing more complexity, more investment, and more sophistication to their curricula—and expect even more to come.
It’s critically important that program management itself be a role model of international management.
—Patrick Moreton, Washington University
Collaborations are more complex.
Many schools start their overseas ventures by partnering with an Asian university on student and faculty exchanges. Through a partnership, a school can test the waters—learning about the market, meeting potential partners, and introducing faculty to a different country—before putting more complicated plans in motion.
Duke University of Durham, North Carolina, has launched a multifaceted new partnership with Jiao Tong University in Shanghai in which the schools will hire joint faculty, run a joint PhD program, and manage several research centers. The alliance has mutual but very different benefits, says Blair Sheppard, dean of Duke’s Fuqua School of Business: “From Jiao Tong’s standpoint, it will help accelerate its development as a school. From Duke’s standpoint, it will help us understand China.” That knowledge will be exceedingly valuable as Duke constructs its own campus in a suburb outside Shanghai next year.
But Fuqua has decided to look for more than business expertise when it partners with universities overseas. It prefers alliances with schools—such as St. Petersburg’s State University in Russia—that can offer it relationships with colleges of arts and sciences in addition to schools of management. That’s because intercollegiate collaborations are proving as important to Duke as international ones.
In fact, Duke schools focusing on engineering, policy, law, medicine, and the environment eventually will have their own incubators at Fuqua’s new China campus. Sheppard sees these cross-disciplinary collaborations as essential because of the growing influence of business on all aspects of society. To solve the world’s current crises such as energy and health, he says, “we will all have to work together.”
No matter what level of involvement two schools have, the partner universities must treat each other with patience, respect, and honesty, says Patrick Moreton of Washington University’s Olin Business School in St. Louis, Missouri. He is associate dean and managing director of the EMBA program the school has run since 2002 with Fudan University in Shanghai. The alliances can be delicate, he says, because cultural differences affect everything from who is admitted to the program to what kind of relationship exists between faculty and students.
“It’s critically important that program management itself be a role model of international management,” says Moreton, who points out that the Olin School essentially rebuilds an international organization every year with an entirely new student body. “If we can overcome challenges and take advantage of opportunities, we are better able to help our students and their companies develop their own solutions.”
More schools are building their own campuses.
Some institutions with a long-time presence in Asia find it’s no longer enough to partner with a local school. They’ve moved to building their own campuses and their own brands overseas.
Duke’s Fuqua School is setting up a permanent base in China, having just signed an agreement to open an ambitious campus in the Shanghai suburb of Kunshan. The 200 acres will include a business school building, an executive conference center, 20 faculty apartments, a 200-room student dorm, and a business incubator. The Kunshan facilities will run programs, such as a pre-experience master’s degree, aimed primarily at a local market. The facilities also will host U.S. students completing overseas modules of international Duke MBA programs.
INSEAD is another school that maintains alliances when they suit its needs, but builds its own campuses in parts of the world where it wants to be more firmly entrenched. Its original campus, located in Fontainebleau, France, was supplemented in 2000 with one in Singapore and in 2007 with one in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. “INSEAD wasn’t founded as a French school, but as an international school based in France,” says its dean, J. Frank Brown. “Throughout our history we’ve focused on diversity as a source of learning and enrichment.”
Students who enroll in INSEAD’s ten-month MBA program must complete four months of core courses on one campus, but after that, they may move freely between locations. Says Brown, “Students don’t enroll at a campus based on what’s convenient logistically. What drives their decisions is the answer to ‘What part of the world don’t I know and what part of the world do I want to get to know?’”
Having permanent campuses in two different corners of the world makes it easier for schools to introduce students to widely different cultures—and to each other, says Eric Morse, dean of programs at the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey School of Business in London and Toronto. Ivey established its own campus in Hong Kong 11 years ago.
“We bring students from Hong Kong to North America for a couple of weeks, and we take our North American EMBA students to China for a couple of weeks. We integrate them whenever possible during those periods,” he says. Not only do students absorb firsthand information about doing business in each location, they form much bigger and more diverse network that will be more useful when they’re back in the working world.
More sophisticated technology keeps multiple programs connected.
As schools spread out over multiple continents, they must develop ways to stay connected and integrated. INSEAD’s three campuses are designed to function as one unit that happens to exist in three locations.
“Our view is, we don’t have satellite campuses. We have one school and we have one leadership team, so we have to make sure communication links are effective,” says Brown. “The dean of research and the dean of MBA programs are both based in Singapore, and they are responsible for global operations. So we must constantly be aware of what time it is in Abu Dhabi and Singapore in order to schedule meetings so everyone can attend.”
INSEAD relies heavily on video conferencing to accomplish everything from holding faculty meetings to running distributed classrooms. “We have PhD candidates on both our France and Singapore campuses, but we only run one set of classes,” Brown explains. “So, wherever the faculty members are, they use video to reach students on the other campus.”
Duke will also rely on a sophisticated telepresence when its China facilities are up and running in 2011. Certain Duke classrooms will be outfitted with 103-inch screens designed to unite three sites simultaneously—perhaps a speaker in one location and classrooms in two other locations. “The objective is to allow at least three classrooms from around the world to go to school together with phenomenal integrity,” says Sheppard.
Schools rely on technology to handle administrative challenges as well as classroom connections, according to Wash U’s Moreton. “Planning becomes much more important, because your ability to absorb or recover from an unpredicted event can be significantly more limited,” he says. That’s particularly true if the program administrator isn’t always on site. “Learning to get things done through e-mail and telephone calls requires new skills.”
More content is international.
Schools that want to strengthen their overseas presence have found that it’s critical to develop content suited to the class¬room in the developing world.
At Ivey, that task was started long before the opening of its campus in Hong Kong. The school formed an alliance with Beijing’s Tsinghua University in the 1980s, and founded its Asian Management Institute in 1997, and both initiatives gave faculty opportunities to create hundreds of Chinese case studies before the school opened the doors at its new facility in Asia. Now, as UWO explores an expansion into India, it has established a joint agreement with the Indian School of Business, and Ivey faculty are beginning to look at case studies that speak to the local Indian market.
The knowledge professors acquire from international research benefits the entire school, Morse says. “We develop domestic faculty members that have a much broader and deeper understanding of the Chinese market, which helps us with our global perspective. Every time I go to Hong Kong to teach, I come back to Canada with something I’ve learned.”
Courses designed for an international classroom can also enrich the curriculum back on the home campus. For instance, in preparation for opening its Kunshan facilities, Duke has been running two relatively new programs in Durham—the Cross Continent MBA and the Global MBA—which both require students to spend time in other parts of the world. Two courses piloted in the Cross Continent MBA prepare students for international immersions. One, a comparative markets and institutions course, examines the differences in regulatory regimes, infrastructures, and financial systems from country to country. The other, a civilizations and leadership course, looks at historical periods in certain countries that have led to the culture as it is today.
Says Sheppard, “We then pose the question, ‘What residue do you see and what does that mean for doing business in this country?’” These two courses are having a domino effect on the rest of the curriculum, he says, “because students in other classes are now asking questions such as, ‘How would that look in the Chinese banking system?’ The goal is to force us to use those lenses to look at everything we teach.”
More classrooms focus on cultural awareness.
In many respects, the curricula taught in overseas classrooms mirror those taught on domestic soil. That’s partly because degree programs must be sanctioned through governing bodies back home, partly because faculty teaching in Asia often teach on the home campus as well, and partly because delivery methods are often the same. But in many cases, course content definitely skews toward the specific needs of the Asian student body.
What you taught on China last year—or even last month—may well not be relevant this year.
—Lydia Price, CEIBS
An emphasis on Asian content has always been a central component of the programs at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), which was launched in Shanghai in 1994 as a joint venture between the European Commission and the Chinese government. CEIBS administrators consider it essential that students understand local knowledge and culture so they can identify topics that get priority among China’s leaders, says Lydia Price, academic director of the MBA program. A course on China HR practices is also crucial, “because employee development and retention are major concerns in our local economy,” she says.
Many schools running programs in Asia put an extra emphasis on teaching teamwork since they expect graduates to be working on diverse international teams. At CEIBS, students go through personality assessments to learn their levels of cultural openness, and then they’re assigned to cross-cultural teams. “They learn that they must get past cultural differences if they are to keep up with the curriculum,” says Price. “Our ultimate goal is to teach students to work together to tackle difficult assignments.”
In the Wash U-Fudan program, students are first put in teams with other individuals of similar experience; halfway through the program, the teams are re-mixed after faculty survey students to find who wants to work with whom. “This helps students understand the way reputations and networks work. It also creates a feedback loop in which people are rewarded for teamwork through the reputation they build in the first half,” Moreton says.
The program is designed so that executives from leading international companies will learn to “develop talent in a way that allows them to incorporate it into their global businesses,” says Moreton. This means Chinese employees must be able to translate their business knowledge to non-Chinese peers, bosses, and subordinates, while Western executives must learn how to “sort through cultural differences across multiple settings so they can understand the opportunities and challenges that these differences present.”
Faculty are more culturally aware.
Business schools with ties to Asia have learned that any successful international program must feature faculty who have developed an international perspective. Professors not only will develop the content to be taught in overseas classrooms, but also will carry that new knowledge back to the home campus, build networks with faculty in other schools, and embody the school’s culture in a new setting.
When the Berlin Wall fell, a lot of people expected the world to converge on a single political economy. That didn’t happen.
—Blair Sheppard, Duke University
Moreover, faculty who have developed deep knowledge about another country can ease a school’s transition into a new campus or program, Morse points out. “Any time you want to expand to another part of the world, you need a handful of champions willing to stand up and say, ‘I will help lead this initiative,’” he says.
Consequently, schools have learned to be strategic about how they hire and deploy professors. At CEIBS, faculty maintain a long-term presence in the country, instead of visiting for short-term teaching appointments. This forces them to wrestle daily with differences in cultural communication styles and decision priorities—and then transmit that learning to the classroom.
Staying in-country for the long haul also helps faculty keep up with ever-changing political and economic climates, Price adds. “What you taught on China last year—or even last month—may well not be relevant this year,” she says. “Faculty members not only must bring a wealth of global experience to the table, but also must be able to relate that to where China is today, and where China has come from.”
INSEAD follows a similar model, keeping faculty in place at its three main locations for long-term assignments. Currently, of its 140 resident faculty members, roughly 90 are in France, 45 are in Singapore, and five are at the new campus in Abu Dhabi. INSEAD offers faculty two-year mission contracts when they go to teach at a new location, says Brown, which helps create “the right opportunities and the right incentives.”
He adds, “It’s important to staff new campuses, at least temporarily, with faculty from existing campuses, because that really gets the culture going in a new location. For instance, the person who is heading the Abu Dhabi campus had significant experience in Singapore and France, which made him a great fit from the standpoint of understanding INSEAD culture.”
At Duke, faculty are encouraged to consider themselves citizens of the world, which might mean owning homes in both countries where they work and teach. For instance, says Sheppard, professors might spend nine months of the year in Shanghai and three months in Durham, “actually being comparative in the way they live their lives. Students in China can ask, ‘What’s really going on in the U.S.?’ If the faculty member spends three months in the U.S., he can answer that question.”
Plans for more expansion continue.
In the past, the very act of setting up a program in Asia marked a business school as international. But many educators believe that’s no longer enough. Even schools with strong presences in Asia believe they must expand to other parts of the world if they are going to prepare their students to operate in a truly global business environment. While CEIBS’ main campus is in Shanghai, it is opening a second campus in Beijing this year. It also operates an EMBA program in Accra, Ghana, offering courses to students from Ghana and Nigeria.
Duke plans to replicate its China template in places like India, the Middle East, Russia, Europe, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa. “If you’re located in a single place, it takes over intellectually,” says Sheppard. “The social psychology of a place is compelling.”
Therefore, he considers it nonnegotiable that Duke broaden its reach. “If our job is to represent the world with some veracity and to prepare people for that world, then we have to be highly embedded and connected in the places that will change the future,” says Sheppard.
Wash U’s Moreton believes that the CEOs of the future will be required to have a truly global perspective acquired by spending significant time overseas, not merely enduring a single international posting. “Given this trend,” he says, “the top business schools will have to be more global as well, with the ability to create a climate of international awareness in and out of the classroom.” He expects to see top business schools develop more programs that keep faculty and students away from the home campus for months, not weeks. He adds, “Ultimately, the top business schools will need to produce people for whom living abroad is completely natural rather than quirky, because increasingly the best opportunities will be found in global companies in emerging markets.”
As the economies of the world continue to evolve, says Sheppard, business schools must evolve right alongside them. They must teach students to answer whatever new questions are raised—wherever those questions are raised. “Chinese academics are asking what it means to operate in a post-Maoist Confucian market economy,” says Sheppard. “If you’re going to engage that question, it’s not a bad idea to be in Shanghai.”
He adds, “When the Berlin Wall fell, a lot of people expected the world to converge on a single political economy. That didn’t happen. People discovered that you can have a market-based economy without becoming Anglo- American. Now we have a world that’s politically diverse but highly interdependent economically, and we must ask ourselves, What does a tapestry like political economy really look like? What are the many forms a market economy can take? I believe you can’t answer those questions from Durham, North Carolina. You’ve got to be in the places that are experimenting with other models.”