By Bob Reid, Executive Vice President and Chief Accreditation Officer, AACSB International
The global members of the AACSB 2020 Committee considered an ambitious agenda when they first met in April 2014. AACSB’s Board of Directors charged the 2020 Committee members with recommending strategies and structures to significantly increase the association’s achievement of its global mission, with focus on membership value, quality improvement, and quality assurance.
The committee discussed at length the shifting environment of business education, with the following concerns at the forefront of conversations:
• Higher education enrollment growth during a 10-year period ending in 2009 grew by 136 percent in developing economies and 24 percent in developed economies.
Over a period of several months, the group met in person, via threaded discussion, on conference calls, and through other asynchronous methods to develop recommendations to address these issues. They collected information, reviewed research about the global development of business education, and, most of all, listened to feedback from AACSB’s global membership. The committee gathered feedback from 28 focus group sessions conducted throughout the world. These focus groups were asked how AACSB might be more relevant and valuable, as well as how AACSB should provide services that would be valuable to business school leaders as they worked to enhance their own educational institutions.
During the ongoing discussions of the 2020 Committee members, and with input from business school leaders globally, four themes emerged that framed the group’s discussion: (1) increase engagement, (2) enhance value through regionalization, (3) foster international collaboration, and (4) strengthen AACSB’s brand value and communication. As the 2020 Committee members discussed and considered options, they engaged with members of the AACSB Board of Directors. Feedback from the Board of Directors guided the work of the 2020 Committee. The 2020 Committee presented a final report to the board that contained three recommendations.
Recommendation 1: Regionalized Services
The 2020 Committee wants AACSB to continue making services more relevant and accessible to business schools throughout the world. Plans call for recruiting more facilitators with local experience to create and deliver seminars and other learning events, as well as forming additional affinity groups to facilitate sharing of ideas, benchmarking best practices, and discussion of topics of mutual interest. Building on the initial offering in Singapore for ICAM 2014, in April 2015 AACSB launched the Collaborations Concourse, providing schools with additional opportunities to identify potential collaborators. AACSB also plans to expand its data and information sharing services by increasing the number of country profiles and the number of schools participating in the core surveys, and systematically developing relationships with country and regional bodies. This effort will enable more international, as well as local, benchmarking and provide additional support for accreditation and research objectives.
Recommendation 2: Expand AACSB as the Central Node of Global Business School Information
This recommendation encourages AACSB to cultivate its global membership as a “knowledge network” by supporting the organization, analysis, and exchange of global business school information. Specific plans call for a suite of enhancements to the DataDirect benchmarking system that will include greater accessibility, more targeted benchmarking and reporting tools, quick-access to priority benchmarking data, and closer integration with the recently launched myAccreditation platform. Plans also call for AACSB to leverage these platforms and the information collected through accreditation reviews to help connect schools around the globe to effective practices and emerging trends. Furthermore, AACSB is exploring development of new pathways for individuals to share their knowledge with others in the AACSB community, as well as opportunities to collaborate with other organizations that collect and share management education data.
Recommendation 3: Global Improvement Network Pilot Project
This 24-month pilot project, focused on building capacity in emerging economies, will benefit AACSB in several ways. It will (1) enhance the organization’s knowledge about business education, (2) expand DataDirect participation, and (3) strengthen AACSB presence in regions. The pilot project will be undertaken in a collaborative manner with partner organizations. It will focus on two to three regions with cohorts of schools that share similar profiles and areas of interest. The capacity building will be done with and between schools, supported by coaches from more well-established business schools. Capacity building areas may include faculty development, curriculum development, and other areas of mutual interest. Participating schools will interact with the coaches in a consulting engagement, resulting in the development and implementation of a quality improvement plan with measureable outcomes. As the plan is being implemented, the participating school will report regularly on progress.
The implementation of these recommendations is in the initial stages. Stayed tuned for updates and outcomes that enhance the quality of management education globally.