Summer/Fall 1995 Journal: New England B-Schools Warn of Challenges

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Oct. 12, 1995

BOSTON — New England is an international powerhouse in business and management education, but continuing reform is needed if the region’s B-schools and management programs are to prepare leaders for the 21st century, according to a series of articles to be published next week in CONNECTION: NEW ENGLAND’S JOURNAL OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.
About 17,000 students will receive bachelor’s degrees in business and management fields from New England colleges this year — more than double the level of 20 years ago, according to a New England analysis of federal data featured in the Summer/Fall 1995 issue of the journal.
An additional 9,000 students, more than half of them working and going to school part-time, will receive MBAs and other business master’s degrees from New England colleges — that’s about three times the level of 20 years ago. And the emergence of new market economies around the world will likely lead more students to New England management programs. Already, more than 7,000 foreign students — nearly one in every five of those enrolled on New England campuses — are in the region studying business.
CONNECTION is the journal of the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), a nonprofit, interstate agency whose mission is to encourage cooperation and the efficient use of resources among New England’s colleges and universities.

The new issue of CONNECTION’s “Cover Stories” feature comprehensive data on degrees granted in business and management fields, as well as essays by management education leaders, including:  Glen L. Urban, dean of MIT’s Sloan School of Management; Richard L. McDowell, former dean of Suffolk University’s School of Management; and Thomas Moore, dean of the Arthur D. Little Management Education Institute.
Northeastern University, New Hampshire College and Bentley College led New England in bachelor’s degrees granted in business and management fields in 1992, the latest year for which data are available, according to an analysis in CONNECTION. Harvard University, Boston University and Bentley led the region in master’s degrees granted in the fields.
In addition, the region’s B-schools, led by the MIT’s Sloan School, conferred 72 doctorates in business. Still, some commentators voice concern that not enough business Ph.D.s are produced to teach a new generation of business leaders.
National studies show the share of college freshmen interested in majoring in  business fields sunk to 16 percent in 1993, down from 27 percent in 1987. CONNECTION authors contend that business schools have historically overemphasized narrow disciplines such as accounting, finance and marketing, while neglecting qualities such as “teamwork” and international and technological savvy. The B-schools also have focused on preparing graduates for careers in big business, even as New England’s economy has been powered increasingly by small companies.
But management education has been undergoing a gradual transformation underscored by Harvard Business School’s recent curriculum realignment, according to CONNECTION. “Allston is not the only place where the New England management education enterprise is buzzing,” the journal reports. “In a region whose corporate icons have tended to be scientists and engineers by training, business schools and programs are turning out a new generation of manager/leaders.”
Business schools and departments have tried to make the management curriculum more closely reflect the growing complexities of the business world from the onslaught of new information technologies to the increasing diversity of the workforce and internationalization of the economy,  CONNECTION reports.
“Any business curriculum must be designed not to prepare middle managers to implement standard practices and procedures, but to educate a new cadre of highly adaptable leaders who can deal confidently with increasing complexity and rapid change,” writes MIT’s Urban.
Still, the authors warn of major challenges to New England’s business education enterprise, including a tenure system that encourages publication in highly specialized fields, a disturbing underrepresentation of minority students in the region’s B-schools and new competition from for-profit consulting firms, particularly in the “executive education” market.
“A failure to sustain innovation leaves the management education field wide open for corporate universities, which are unencumbered by the traditional academic structures,” writes Moore of Arthur D. Little’s master’s degree-granting institute. “In just a few years, business schools may be losing both prospective students and graduate placement opportunities to AT&T University and Motorola University.”
The Summer/Fall 1995 issue of CONNECTION also features an examination of the charter school phenomena by Virginia A. Greiman, general counsel with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education, a look at corporate expectations of higher education by former Council for Aid to Education President Judith S. Eaton and news and data from New England’s more than 260 colleges and universities.
NEBHE programs are principally focused on the relationship between New England higher education and regional economic development. Past issues of CONNECTION have focused on topics ranging from telecommunications and distance learning to emerging environmental technologies.


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