The story of the next generation global managers

“We need to teach people to do things holistically. Part of the problem of education is who the suppliers are”, quips Louis Lataif (Former Manager – Ford & Dean – Boston University). Professor Lataif’s remark can hardly be doubted as a recent report by a team from the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) found a substantial gap between the real-world needs and management education in this era of globalisation.

Global Managers

The Early Years

The history of management education dates back to 1908 when Harvard Business School offered its first degree. Europe got its first business school even later with the establishment of INSEAD in 1957 and shortly after that Australia had its own share with the foundation of Melbourne Business School, in 1963. From its first class of 33 regular and 47 special students in Harvard, today over 250 thousand students globally take the GMAT test alone. In the recent century, management education has grown like no other education discipline has.

The Gradual Evolution

Over the years, management education has consistently evolved primarily as a response to the changing business landscape. In 1908, the MBA curriculum at Harvard Business School, like many other business schools of that time centred on the academic format that continued for the following four decades. Although the case study method of teaching adopted at the school gained global recognition, the overall teaching philosophy was no short of criticism. This was brought out in the Ford and the Carnegie Foundation’s report in 1959’s which criticised the American business management’s curriculum for its lack of relevance to real-life business.

The Turning Point

The 1990s were a major turning point for management education, where critics voiced out that business schools were divorced from reality. The focus, this time, was on programs to become more international in their outlook, emphasise on the soft skills that companies were looking for, and ensure a practical approach towards business education to align the interest of academia with practice. This brought in the era of experiential learning methods.

Globalisation and the Global Manager

The last fifteen years witnessed a massive impact of globalisation in corporation and for obvious reasons; students in business education could not afford to remain confined within the parameters of their countries. The questions that were repeatedly asked were, how do global managers work across distances, in different countries, among varied cultures and how do they understand this role and develop for it? This called for global managers, who could respond to the rapidly changing global issues, be prepared with the leadership traits of adaptability, flexibility, and ability to embrace ambiguity, be innovative, think lateral and remain unfettered by conventional wisdom. It is all about developing the global mindset.

A global manager is all about having eyes and ears around the world!

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