Wednesday, February 3, 2010

International business schools are taking over

A friend recently posted a message on LinkedIn stating "my business school has moved up to #12."  This was surprising to hear as I was quite certain that this friend had attended business school in India (a country not well-known for it's business schools).

India has some great institutions which continuously graduate top talents.   For example, the Indian Institutes of Technology are superior amongst IT schools.  Similarly, Indian medical facilities have a reputation for their superb customer care and their ability to successfully perform advanced, cutting-edge procedures. But Indian colleagues had always told me that a PhD was much more desired in the Indian business world.

According to the Financial Times ranking of top global business schools (click here for the article), 4 of the top 10 are internationally-based and 10 of the top 20 are internationally-based.  Again, this was surprising to me.  Typically, the majority of the best business schools are US-based.  The US is where the business school learning approaches were pioneered.   However, it actually does make sense that international schools have joined the top ranks in business education.

When I moved to Germany 3 years ago, a PhD was required for many business positions (even sales and especially consulting).  It was, and still is, common for Germans to complete their Bachelor's, Master's and PhD without any breaks to gain real-world experience.  However recently, I've noticed a trend where many of my colleagues, even those with PhD's, are either 1) leaving work to get an MBA or 2) attending executive MBA classes while working.

As far as I see, there are a couple things driving this shift:

1. Business schools are closer to home now in Europe.  Before, only a few European cities had MBA programs.  Now many US business schools have European subsidiaries and European institutions have business schools. 

2. Recently, many of the business programs in Europe shifted from a lecture/test format to the interactive case study approach which allows better application of business lessons learned.

3. The European schools are doing a great job at networking with other business schools globally and all of their classes largely highlight the global business environment.  I beleive that international schools have an advantage over many of their US counterparts on this.  For individuals working at global companies (and really, what company can afford not to go global?), understanding how to adapt and compete in the global business environment can greatly increase your company's success. 

4. There is more diversity in the students, teachers and alumni at European European business schools.  This provides a great chance to learn about other cultures, to improve upon interpersonal skills and increase the ability to adapt to different cultures (all of which are needed in the global business environment).

With that said, it will be interesting to find out how many international schools are in the top 20 ranking in 2010.  And also to learn in which countries the top schools are based.

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