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BRC Proposed Draft Standards Ongoing Series—Strategic Management

October 2012

A focal point of last month's Annual Accreditation Conference was the numerous discussions related to the Blue Ribbon Committee on Accreditation Quality's (BRC) proposed draft standards. Many of the concurrent sessions at the conference were centered on specific sections of the standards, such as strategic management. Current AACSB Accreditation standards for business have five standards related to strategic management, which have been collapsed into three draft standards outlined below.

Increasing the focus on mission, proposed draft Standard 1 seeks to gain a deeper and richer understanding of a school beyond a single mission "statement" and inclusive of a school's vision, values, strategies, expected outcomes, etc. The primary intent being that actions should be in alignment with mission and provide review teams with greater understanding of a school compared to current practices—what makes them distinctive from other schools, as well as alike.

Most importantly, this standard is designed to be carried throughout the other proposed draft standards, as most now reference the phrase "consistent with mission, expected outcomes, and strategies."

Standard 1: The school articulates a clear and distinctive mission, expected outcomes it applies, and strategies outlining how these outcomes will be achieved. The school has a history of achievement and improvement and specifies future actions for continuous improvement and innovation consistent with mission, expected outcomes, and strategies. [MISSION, IMPACT, AND INNOVATION]

The BRC's proposed draft Standard 2 focuses on the difference and impact research can and should have on industry and higher education. As the direction shifts beyond counting peer review journals, the quality of research is viewed as equally important as the quantity. Over time the current Standard 10 and Standard 2 have been so connected that Standard 2 is often viewed narrowly as expectations about individual contributions and about refereed journal articles. In the proposed draft Standard 2, the school is the focus—data is requested in the aggregate—and intellectual contributions are defined broadly. More importantly, the data about how many intellectual contributions have been produced in the last five years is only the starting point. What matters is whether intellectual contributions produced by the school are aligned with its mission and have made a difference—in advancing theory, practice, and/or teaching.

To gain an understanding about ongoing potential for impact, the proposed draft standards looks for quality indicators of the most current portfolio with the emphasis on the school putting forth and discussing its "best work." To foster a focus on impact and encourage diversity, the BRC believes this new standard must also allow for flexibility on how the school defines impact and how it reflects alignment with their mission and outcomes.

Standard 2: The school produces high quality intellectual contributions that are consistent with its mission, expected outcomes, and strategies and impact the theory, practice, and teaching of business and management. [INTELLECTUAL CONTRIBUTIONS IMPACT AND ALIGNMENT WITH MISSION]

The spirit of proposed draft Standard 3 emphasizes models and strategies, in addition to actions and funds. Going beyond the current Standard 5, which was primarily concerned with where funding for new initiatives comes from, this standard looks at whether the financial model of the school can sustain quality and support innovation moving forward, and what strategies are in place for resource allocation. Not only should the school demonstrate the finances to support new actions, but there must also be more transparency for contingency planning and expansion of financial information, calling for information from the past five years.

As a result of member demands for better training and development (for themselves and for university leaders), and for more data and information to assist them in working with different models and negotiations, there is no doubt that this standard will become increasingly important.

Standard 3: The school has financial strategies to provide resources appropriate to, and sufficient for, achieving its mission and action items. [FINANCIAL STRATEGIES AND ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES]

Overall, the BRC seeks to encourage innovation, impact, and engagement throughout the proposed draft standards, positioning business schools and AACSB Accreditation as catalysts for change. AACSB will continue to provide a series of monthly articles focused on additional sections of the proposed draft standards for further discussion and feedback, leading up to the vote in April 2013.