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Creating Community: AACSB Spreading its Wings in Asia

By Eileen Peacock

As we celebrate our first accredited school in India, I thought this would be the perfect time to reflect on AACSB's progress in the Asia Pacific region. Adding India to our list of countries with accredited schools is significant because it demonstrates our commitment to working with quality, diverse schools. We look forward to welcoming additional members and accredited schools, not only from India but many of its neighboring countries.

When AACSB opened its Asia Pacific headquarters in 2009, there were 29 accredited schools and 132 members in the region. In just three years, these membership numbers have increased by more than 90%, and we now have 53 accredited schools and 232 members in Asia Pacific. We represent 18% of the total educational membership and 9% of the accredited membership, and our growth in Asia has had an enormous impact on the organization and our member schools across the globe. As we grow, we gain a deeper understanding of what constitutes quality in a variety of contexts. We often cite what the reviewed school gains from the accreditation process, forgetting to note that the review team and committees, as well as the AACSB staff, also learn from the schools they visit. The reviewed school's approaches to process improvement may be innovative, shaped from the specific circumstances of the institution resulting in the development of effective practices. But because each school faces different challenges, the teams usually discover a unique way in which each school has applied the standards.

While developing our conferences and seminars for the region, we worked hard to create content most relevant to "local" needs. Of particular note, we paid close attention to the increasing number of collaborations across continents and were struck by the variety and strength of such programs. In particular, we see not just East/West partners, but a significant growth of collaborations within the region, particularly between China and India. Our great success this past year was to develop an MBA business curriculum seminar based entirely on Asia Pacific experiences. The seminar will be continued this coming year, with a curriculum series based on the outcome of the previously successful MBA symposium.

Another important result of our growth in Asia Pacific is the increased diversity in our volunteer base. Volunteers are the backbone of accreditation, and the Asia Pacific dean representation on various committees and teams has developed an effective support system for schools in the region that are seeking or maintaining accreditation.

As the Asia Pacific region becomes more active in AACSB, awareness of the region's successes and challenges builds. Effective practices are identified, highlighted, and shared with the rest of the management education community. These effective practices are distributed formally, through articles, conferences and seminars, and informally through individual networks. Ultimately, the ripple effect inspires others to improve and innovate. In addition, we find much interest in the differences in organizational structure than was the norm for our membership some 10 years ago. These differences stimulate our thought processes and allow us, again, to think about how and why different structures evolve, the way in which each is effective in their own way.

With AACSB's expansion into Asia Pacific, the world of management education has greatly improved. Through the accreditation process and various services that support accreditation, volunteers, committees, and the board, we are committed to the advancement of management education in the region. This will happen as we engage the community in all aspects of our work, each of us learning as we listen, observe, and make changes. We know we have much further to go! We welcome your participation and feedback.


Eileen Peacock
Senior Vice President and Chief Officer, Asia
AACSB International