Business schools educate the industry leaders of tomorrow. Yet, according to a 2013 Lumina/Gallup poll, only 33 percent of business leaders agree or strongly agree that graduates have the skills their business needs. And according to a 2013 Inside Higher Ed survey conducted by Gallup, 96 percent of chief academic officers say their institution is somewhat or very effective at preparing students for the world of work.
That’s a big gap between industry and higher education leaders’ perceptions about how well prepared graduates are for success in the workplace. In industry jargon: business school offerings aren’t meeting customer requirements.
It is surprising, and yes, distressing to see the general lack of dialogue between academia and one of our major customers—employers of business school graduates—about what we do, how we do it, and how we can do it better. To build relevance and respect, business schools must better understand the needs of business and proceed to close the gap between industry and academia.
Taking action isn’t going to be easy, but the time to get started is now. Beginning tomorrow, September 30, and running through October 2, 2014, the School of Management, in collaboration with IBM and other premier sponsors, is launching the Business Education Jam. For 60 consecutive hours, thousands of people around the world—thought leaders, faculty, business school deans, students, corporate executives, talent leaders, and more—will come together in a unique virtual environment to brainstorm solutions to this growing gap between classroom and career.
This free online discussion provides a unique opportunity for you to help shape the future of education. While we are focusing on business education, the lessons learned at the Jam will impact education across the board. You can make a difference by signing up here.
There are abundant opportunities to build stronger partnerships between business and business schools. Employers need better-informed graduates who are ready to tackle the challenges of a complex and demanding global economy. This means more field seminars, internships, and hands-on practical opportunities for students. Together, academia and industry can construct a better approach to student learning so that graduates gain relevant exposure to real-world issues as part of their education.
Ethical leadership is another example. In business schools, we overlook the contributing causes of the recent Great Recession at our own peril. Today’s students need and want to understand what it means to become responsible, ethical leaders and to exercise informed judgment as they strive to make a difference in the world.
We can’t be complacent, sitting on our hands and waiting for business education to naturally evolve. So, where do we begin?
At SMG, we believe in the power of collaboration and are taking it to the next level through the Jam. SMG recently turned 100, and like a number of other long-standing business schools, we didn’t get here by playing it safe. To succeed for a second century, we need to embrace this time as a critical inflection point and advance the quality of management education worldwide. We must use this upheaval to redefine and reestablish the value of business education in a complex world—together.
Can a 60-hour global online conversation truly revolutionize the future of business education?
Definitely, it holds the potential to change the game.
Powered by IBM’s technology, 10 discussion forums will drive the conversation during the Jam and spark new ideas and approaches to business education. We are seeking real, actionable solutions to questions plaguing business schools today, including: What skills do millennials need to succeed? How do we nurture next-generation entrepreneurs? How do we foster ethical leaders?
Identifying answers to these questions and more requires thoughtful input from faculty, deans, administrators, executives, hiring managers, students, recent graduates, and anyone with an interest in business education. Every voice matters.
After the Jam concludes, the real work begins. This opportunity is too rare, and business school challenges too real, to permit the dialogue to end when the last participant logs off. After the Jam, we will summarize and share findings, including specific actions that can be taken by business schools and businesses to enable business education to become more relevant, progressive, and valuable for our students and the businesses that employ them. And, most important, we will use these findings to create new initiatives that will assure grads are prepared for the workplace.
Prepare for the brainstorm, register for the Business Education Jam, and share your ideas.
The Business Jam (register here) runs tomorrow, September 30, through Thursday, October 2, and is expected to draw 5,000 to 10,000 participants.
Kenneth W. Freeman, Allen Questrom Professor and Dean of the School of Management, can be reached at email@example.com.
“POV” is an opinion page that provides timely commentaries from students, faculty, and staff on a variety of issues: on-campus, local, state, national, or international. Anyone interested in submitting a piece, which should be about 700 words long, should contact Rich Barlow at firstname.lastname@example.org. BU Today reserves the right to reject or edit submissions. The views expressed are solely those of the author and are not intended to represent the views of Boston University.