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Management Education and Development in the United Kingdom - Page 4

European and International Dimension.

The following section paints a ‘broad brush picture’ of relevant activities within a European and International context.
In an attempt to standardise quality standards from a European perspective, in 1997, the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) launched a new quality initiative, the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS), designed to provide continuous improvement and accreditation of management education institutions. The Open University, in 2001, announced their MBA programme to be AMBA and EQUIS accredited Intensive work on the definition of the EQUIS project has taken place, on invitation by EFMD, over a period of two years within an association of national accreditation and quality assessment agencies called EQUAL- European Quality Link for Management Education. Membership of EQUAL includes the Association of Business Schools. AMBA was a member of the group until December 1996.

Albert Einstein was reputed to have commented, ‘nationalism is a disease, it is the measles of mankind. How well do our current compartmentalised national educational processes fit with the globalisation of trading, information communication technology and world wide business strategies? These relationships are becoming increasingly formalised as shown by the development of such alliances as the Community of European Management Schools (CEMS) and the Alliance of Management Schools in Europe (AMSES). Another grouping is the European Network of Business Schools set up between Bradford Management Centre, Group Atlantique in Nates, and the Universidad Commercial de Deosto in Bilbao. Participants spend one term each in Spain, France and the UK, taking courses in the language of the country and undertaking projects with local firms, eventually graduating with a European MBA

The Association of MBA’s detail in their guide to business schools, the theory of how quality standards are to be maintained through an international monitoring body.
An International Accreditation Advisory Board has been set up to ensure that the strategic issues within the international MBA areas are reflected within the accreditation criteria and process. The board consists of senior academics and representatives of corporate and international bodies and meets twice a year. Accreditation panels conduct the accreditation visits and they are drawn from a pool of academics who are closely involved with MBA programmes across a variety of international business schools and practitioners who are familiar with both business school academia and corporate management development. This combination ensures that each accreditation panel is well equipped to assess the quality of nominated MBA programmes.

The AACSB (American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business) has carried out ‘whole school’ accreditations in North America for many years. Recent expansion would suggest an intent to become a major international player in this field. Perhaps a detraction may be the rigidity of its application, whilst compatible with the traditional model of American Business Schools would not sit well with European centres.

In the early 1990’s much debate took place within the EFMD ( European Foundation for Management Development) to assess if the American model could be instituted in the UK. As a consequence of these deliberations, the EQUIS scheme was developed over a two-year period. The pilot was successful and by mid 2000, thirty-seven Business Schools were accredited with another twenty in the pipeline. The EQUIS system is based on a commonly agreed framework of high quality standards for institutions of international standing, with respect for diversity and the legitimacy of national standards. It has three major objectives.

  1. To provide market information to students and employers.
  2. To provide an instrument for comparison and benchmarking.
  3. To promote quality improvement throughout Europe.

The key characteristics of the process are:

In the early 1990’s, the Association of Business Schools and the Association of MBA’s worked together towards developing threshold guidelines for ‘quality’ MBA programmes. The Association of Business Schools adopted them as policy and these guidelines became the basis for the European MBA guidelines developed by the European Quality Link (EQUAL) and ratified by its members, i.e. 10 European national business school association. At approximately the same time, the Association of MBA’s implemented a revised accreditataion system with more stringent entry requirements, clearer expectations, and a wider assessment of the underpinning quality of the whole school. This assessment to include RAE rating, qualifications of teaching staff and employer support. The QAA are actively developing postgraduate benchmarks in business and management, including the MBA. It would be imminently sensible for some form of joint assessment to be established including the three bodies, QAA, ABS and AMBA.

Professor Chris Greensted, ex chairman of the Association of Business Schools, argued that a whole school accreditation system within a national context carried out by peers would add value to these schools far greater than that available through QAA or HEFC audits. He proceeded to expound a view that perhaps the establishment of a UK EQUIS equivalent scheme could be a step or first stage in the process of gaining international accreditation.

Looking briefly at other international locations in terms of gaining a wider perspective, it is not surprising to find similarities. For example, on the other side of the word it was noted that
education is an export industry in which Australia has excelled: It’s universities rank amongst the best in the world and international students account for one in seven of all Australian enrolments. Their business schools offer many diverse MBA programmes which consistently beat their competitors and counterparts in the United States of America and also the United Kingdom in terms of total programme costs. Australia has approximately forty universities and several non-university providers to choose from. There are over sixty MBA programmes on offer and around about 11,000, fee paying international students are currently involved in postgraduate education relating to management and business.

The problems and concerns associated with management education and development do not solely reside within the UK. Deliberations in the Asia Pacific concluded all was not well with their infrastructure.
Concern in the Southern Hemisphere regarding the current state of management education manifested itself in the Australian Federal Government commissioning an enquiry (The Karpin Enquiry) in the early 1990’s. The Karpin Industrial Taskforce on Leadership and Management Skills presented their findings in 1995.

The principle findings of this comprehensive report were,

There is a very strong case that the UK workforce could benefit from a strategy encompassing the underlined endorsement and concentrate on the requirements of the future rather than the sedimented teaching/learning programmes of the past.
The report also concluded that there needed to be education for the new style of management, including leadership, people skills and internationalisation; management for diversity; links to industry and enterprises; and delivery of world- class management development programmes. Salient points for action were as follows;

  1. Redesign of funding arrangements for postgraduate management education to encourage management school responsiveness to consumer and industry demand.
  2. Professional accreditation of management schools, and better consumer information on the supply and quality of courses.
  3. The establishment of a National Management School, and quality incentives for management schools;
  4. A new applied management research programme run jointly with industry, improvement of industry linkages between management schools and the private sector, and upgrading of international links of business schools.
  5. Improved management curricula for postgraduate and undergraduate management education, and an international business skills programme to increase knowledge of export related matters, amongst students in professional and advanced vocational courses.
  6. Greater focus by management schools on small business; improved articulation between small business courses in TAFE and higher education, and recognition of prior learning; and an open network for the delivery of management education to small to medium enterprises and professional firms.
  7. Improved human resource management. (Source- Adapted from The Karpin Report, 1995)

Previous Research

In 1986, The National Economic Development Council, the Manpower Services Commission and the British Institute of Management charged a team to go and see how the others do it, i.e., (Management Education and Development), and come back and tell if there is anything we can learn from their practices. The team consisted of Charles Handy, Colin Gordon, Ian Gow and Colin Randlesome and they were asked to examine management education and development processes in the USA, Germany, France, and Japan.
At that time, the personnel selected for the study were aptly qualified for meeting the terms of reference.
Charles Handy was visiting Professor at the London Business School and prolific and respected writer on the subject of management.
Colin Gordon was a Senior Lecturer in European Management at the Cranfield School of Management and a Director of the European Management MA Programme. He specialised in French Management.
Ian Gow was a Professor of Japanese Business Policy at the University of Stirling and Colin Randleson a Senior Lecturer in European management at Cranfield School of Management specialising in German Management.

The study graphically illustrated the differences in historical backgrounds and cultural histories. These differences, understandably, play a significant part in the way management educational programmes are conducted. A snapshot of these differences encompass many perspectives.
Firstly America. Americans in general place very high values in education not least in terms of an investment for their futures well -being. Early in the twentieth century American Universities commenced putting the area of management on a par with the traditional professions and created business schools modelled on law schools to address this need.

The Japanese operate a somewhat different method of educating and developing their managers. They believe and practice an on the job training philosophy. That is learning by watching, listening and practising under the watchful eye of an older mentor. To facilitate this approach the larger corporations in particular offer the prospect of a life time tenure of employment with a slower rise throughout the organisation. Very much a slow burn development. Students are recruited directly from university and enter an apprentice arrangement lasting up to fourteen years. This practical apprenticeship, incorporating all facets of the organisation is supported by regular exposure to interaction with colleagues, seniors, external academic exercises and frequent formal progress reports or reviews. Their on the job training and development policy fits well with a culture of regulated and planned pathway of development.

The French apply a stringent rationalist philosophy to educating and developing their managers. Tradition dictates that decrees emanate from the centre. In response to an ongoing need for training, a law was passed requiring every business to allocate 1.2 % of its wage bill to training, otherwise that amount would be taken by the Treasury. In addition to this financial allocation, personal development plans had to be prepared and anyone wishing to become involved in further education were duty bound to be accorded paid leave. This law also facilitated demonstrable statistics to show that minimum requirements were being met. In practice, the target is not only met but the vast majority of cases surpassed. Emphasis is placed on ensuring that business has its fair share of intellectual elite to give the area of management sufficient gravitas, at least equivalent to the traditional professions.

Germany, as one would expect, have adopted a management educational and development process based primarily on thoroughness and relevance through a defined apprenticeship route. Their educational philosopher argued to teach them long, teach them broad and teach them in large numbers. Their systems encourage a functional arrangement with supervision of those less skilled by one more skilled or experienced. The concept of management divorced from this functionality is neither widely understood nor accepted. Consequently, the humanities are not recognised as a foundation for an aspiring manager. On entering business, in the main, at circa late twenties, the graduate faces a well-planned development path fully integrated in a careful and systematic manner with relevance and thoroughness the keynotes.

Lastly, the British. Management in Britain has always been categorised as a practical art rather than an applied science. The identity of the word manager has a rather lowly pedigree; reference to the word or term manage, has invariably meant to only just cope. Managers were traditionally identified by function, depending on which department they happened to reside. The whole ethos of British management was to depend on a survival of the fittest strategy and that effective managers would naturally gravitate to the fore or top. Character, initiative energy and imagination were all highly prized attributes, more so than knowledge or intellect. After the Second World War, management as a career was contextualised within the major organisations. Some emulated the Japanese model and some the French. Others attempted to transplant the American model. None of these models succeeded. What has succeeded is the practice of accountancy model and has perhaps not in a conscious manner resulted in many young managers entering business through this route.

There is a long history of reports and writing on the subject of educating and developing managers in the UK. Charles Handy acknowledges the fact that a particular debt is owed to Professor Thomas Kemper who by virtue of a seminal article stimulated the need for further research into the area of management education and development. The article, titled ‘Education for management in Five countries: Myth and Reality’, was written in 1983 and noted in the Journal of General Management. Other pioneering forces, namely Alister Mant and Trevor Owen in their early reports, signalled clearly the question mark over too much reliance on singularly educating and developing managers in a classroom situation. Additionally, Professor Ian Mangham, in his 1986 report into management training highlighted the unstructured and sporadic nature of provision in the UK.

Britain’s Managers

Britain’s managers need to be better educated and better developed if they are going to run organisations as effectively as their competitors. Britain does not bother a great deal about the education and development of her managers, depending instead on a Darwinian philosophy that the natural order of things will result in the strongest. Darwinism, Handy argues, is a long cruel and wasteful process. It is unfair and cruel to those disgarded and wasteful in that it results in a high number of negative outcomes for a relatively few successes.

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