Deans of China’s Top Business Schools demand new Global Economics Framework – Shanghai World Expo Higher Education Workshop
Are business schools to blame for the financial crisis? Is there a model explaining the economics of China? Do we need a new global economics framework? And, are Chinese business schools ready to go international? Titled “Challenges for Global Business Schools”, this Shanghai World Expo workshop was to shed light on these and other questions.
Shanghai is host to the 2010 World Expo which is expecting its many exhibiting national and theme pavilions to not only receive about 70 million visitors during operation but also host some of China’s leading education experts to reason about challenges China has to master on its way to becoming a truly global player. Deans of two of the world’s leading business schools, the Spanish ESADE and IE Business School, recently took this opportunity to compile a high-profile panel of China management education experts to convey their views to a sophisticated audience of higher education professionals and management students gathering at the Spanish Pavilion.
The world needs a new paradigm for global economics and for doing business
In his opening statement, Beijing University’s Guanghua School of Managment Dean Zhang Weiying described the role of his school as mainly educating managers of large-scale enterprises, with more importance attributed to executive management education (EMBA). He further narrowed the scope by saying that China’s many entrepreneurial and start-up companies were not envisaged targets.
Leonard Cheng, Dean of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Business School, foresees a “differentiation in program scopes and curricula for business schools to be able to meet the needs of the economy”.
Professor Rolf Cremer, Dean of the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai, pointed out that economies around the world “lack of an intellectual framework to accommodate the current world which has changed compared to 20 years ago”. According to Cremer, a new platform needed to be created which would support business in its role as driving factor for change. “We still employ the old methods, and we still use liquidity to solve liquidity issues – as seen in the recent Greek case”, said Cremer.
This view was shared by the Associate Dean of Fudan School of Management, Yin Zhiwen, who further demanded the development of a theoretical framework for explaining the Chinese economic habitat. In contrast to the Guanghua School of Management Dean, Mr. Yin sees merit in developing “specific programs targeting entrepreneurs and start-up company leaders in China”, a statement he turned into action later during the subsequent networking session by suggesting to evaluate the opportunity to develop a pilot program for international entrepreneurs.
Where were Chinese business schools with their perspectives when Harvard portrayed their view on Google pulling out of China?
When asked about the next steps in internationalising his school, Leonard Cheng stressed that HKUST Business School already had an international framework catering to international students: “This framework was jointly developed by my school and two existing international partners, and we are in discussion with another prospective partner from mainland China”, said Cheng. He further revealed his school’s plans to export management education to the Middle East and other Asian countries.
Chen Guoqing, Associate Dean of Tsinghua School of Economics and Management, sees internationalisation of his school still at an early stage, with enroling more international students, diversifying the program and adding international staff to the faculty portfolio being the major challenges ahead. He further envisages to start conducting academic research into management subjects. “Globalisation means a singular market with diversified clients, and our business schools need to be globally compatible.”
“It is an obligation to be global”, proclaimed Guanghua School Dean Zhang Weiying. According to Zhang, his school will internationalise by offering executive training programs for company board directors while conducting board meetings in their China subsidiaries. “These programs will have a China specific curriculum which should be derived from research into China’s economy patterns”, said Zhang.
For Cremer, internationalisation is all about not making the mistake of being mere copies of existing international business schools, and from experience he suggested to achieve this target by recruiting a concise, international faculty which should be encouraged to “want to work together”.
Shanghai Jiaotong University’s Antai College of Economics and Management “already had its initial and unsuccessful internationalisation test”, reported the school’s Dean, Lin Zhou, and he further attributed the failure to the immaturity of faculty members at that time. With a declared goal of being a global player in management education and a change from “gain to give” within the next 20 years, Lin sees accreditation, curriculum design, international faculty, and governance as main ingredients for achieving this ambitious target.
According to Fudan School Dean Yin Zhiwen, a global mindset is key for successfully internationalising his school, a characteristics he hopes will be achieved by equally sharing the teaching load between local and international faculty members.
Wondering when Chinese business schools would start building an international profile, CEIBS Dean Cremer remarked: “International media still goes to Harvard in order to understand China. Two weeks after Google pulled out of China, the case was portrayed to the public by Harvard Business School. Where were Chinese business schools with their perspectives?”
Business Schools are not to blame for the global finance muddle
HKUST Business School Dean Cheng stressed that “business schools cannot be made responsible for preventing a global financial crisis; this is all about regulation and governance”.
Supporting Mr. Cheng’s argument, Shanghai Jiaotong University Professor Lin claimed that even though “business schools are not to blame for the financial crisis, they have the duty to lead by example in all ethics-related areas promoting academic honesty – particularly in China. By disallowing faculty members to use knowledge without properly quoting the source, business schools could set the mark instead of just adding moral or ethics courses to their programs”.
“Our role”, Beijing University Professor Zhang said, “is limited, and we still focus too much on conveying factual instead of integrated knowledge” which would enable future leaders to holistically understand the consequences of their decisions. Zhang advanced by saying that “management failures are nothing but smart people making stupid mistakes”. According to Zhang, Chinese business schools are to “become roles models in business behavior” incorporating ethics and moral education in their curricula.
Professor Cremer believes that “business leaders are leaders of the society, and China is the best example as it delegates actual power to the private sector. Standalone business schools have more autonomy and are less burdened by feeding their integrated counterparts. But, when it comes to being a role model in ethics education, they are disadvantaged as they do not have the integration with other faculties”.
This statement was confirmed by Mr. Yin who concluded that “Fudan Business School students benefit from humanity subjects being taught by other faculties”.
The daily horror show of bailed out enterprises and now even entire countries suggests the urgent need for a new global economic paradigm, and it is honourable for the panelists to publicly declare their share in the ongoing process. However, as critical review of the past is integral part of developing any new model, one may wonder why none of the eight deans present at this high-profile panel saw a necessity to impute the global financial crisis at least partially to business schools’ failure to educate those making ethically questionable decisions.