By Eileen Peacock
This past April, at AACSB's International Conference and Meeting (ICAM) in San Diego, California, USA, an announcement was made regarding AACSB's continued efforts to assist emerging economies in their pursuit of continued quality improvement in management education. Research into emerging economies has revealed an increase of 136% in higher education enrollment between 1999–2009, and more than double the number of global corporations based in these countries—from 8.2% in 2005 to 17.4% in 2010. The exceptional growth of education enrollment and the expansion of global business has created the need for further resources which AACSB is developing and delivering in areas including Latin America, the Middle East, Central/Eastern Europe, and the Asia Pacific region.
"It's becoming clear that business schools in these emerging economies are committed to providing the best education to their students and to having a positive impact on their communities and their countries," said John J. Fernandes, president and CEO of AACSB. "AACSB supports and encourages the journey these institutions are on, and is committed to providing the value-added services and resources to support their efforts of quality improvement."
In order to create a closer community of management education professionals in the Asia Pacific region, AACSB recently created the Asia Pacific Affinity Group (APAG) to facilitate networking, the exchange of ideas and sharing of best practices unique to the specific needs of the region. The affinity group unites individuals with common interests to facilitate deeper communications and enhance their respective quality and continuous improvement objectives. APAG members will shape the nature of the group, as each person brings their own unique perspectives and ideas for discussion. It also provides a platform for AACSB member institutions to draw attention to key issues and insights that may be of interest to the greater AACSB community, helping to drive new initiatives forward and develop content for future events. I welcome and encourage anyone interested in learning more about the region to contribute to the discussion.
In addition, AACSB is developing a plan to work with schools in emerging economies to support business school development. We are working to deliver a set of face-to-face, interactive programs at a manageable cost—programs that not only raise awareness to achieving quality within a school's constraints a school has, but also how established processes around essential stakeholders (such as students and faculty) build better quality improvement efforts.
There are many schools that may not consider entering the AACSB Accreditation process or even joining the AACSB community as a member because, from their viewpoint, alignment with the standards seems too remote. What is lacking at these institutions is not a desire to improve, but often a network to learn from, share with, and grow among. Schools develop their own systems and strengths within the constraints of their resources and their regulatory framework. But experiencing other scenarios and benchmarks can give ideas and inspiration. These schools consistently seek out new ideas they can adopt to further enhance their schools, their offerings and their outcomes.
The current efforts in the Asia Pacific region serve as our model for growth and fulfillment of our mission, with an eye towards additional emerging economies. Nevertheless, a challenging question exists: what is the most effective way to provide assistance in countries with developing management education programs where resources are limited, but increased educational offerings are needed? AACSB looks forward to meeting that challenge and continually move toward improved quality management education—no matter where it is.
We will continue to share our progress with you.