GLOBAL: Future MBAs must consider long term

The global economic recession may appear to have been the direct result of negligent MBA graduates working for a quick buck. While this is not true these courses need to change, a senior business school academic argues.

Luis Timms, associate dean and director of graduate business programmes at Hult International Business School, said: "Some industry sectors are pointing their fingers at business schools and saying 'you're the ones who produce the MBAs and the MBAs caused the crisis, it's your fault'."

Timms says: "That's an over-simplification."

As the world struggles out of the recent slump, business school leaders are becoming more aware that past curricula are no longer viable in today's changing economic market, and need to prepare students for tough times as well as good.

"Business schools need to ... actually address these issues. Before, it was sort of an omission in the sense that we gave people the tools but we didn't specifically address the fact that there has to be a balance in the long term and there has to be more emphasis on corporate responsibility," Timms says.

He spoke following May's gathering of business school leaders in Berlin, Germany, for the annual Association of MBAs International Conference for Deans and Directors to discuss issues of responsible management hoping to find ways to improve their programmes.

Change was the key focus of discussion, Timms says, as schools realise that students need to understand the value of considering the community, the environment and the world, considering long-term goals and not just the next profit opportunity.

"Alumni tend to look at the short term," Timms says, "trying to maximise profits now for this year rather than looking to the longer term."

This attitude has to change, according to Timms. MBAs must be willing to look towards the long term and consider the effect of their businesses.

"In the last three years quite a few people have moved much more to a stakeholder approach rather than the profit centre approach to business education," says Rob Dixon, Dean of Durham Business School in the UK.

The stakeholder approach believes that concerns beyond those of the customers and societies are also important, including proper support systems for employees and strategic alliances with suppliers, Dixon says.

Balance may be what is needed to change business education and ensure future MBAs are more conscientious in their approach but Timms realises that the changes they desire will take some time.

"[The Berlin conference] was at least the first of a series of conferences that need to take place before change actually happens," Timms says. "Most of the people at the end of the conference were actually thinking about [ways to improve business schools] seriously."