Business Schools need to differentiate themselves in how they deliver knowledge, says Professor Amir Sharif.

In a recent FT article, Professor Amir Sharif, acting Head of Brunel Business School, suggests Business Schools don’t leave difference to rankings alone. Why not be innovative through the delivery of management knowledge: academic content, real life employability skills and the right learning processes?

Amir Sharif

Professor Amir Sharif, acting Head of Brunel Business School

To be truly distinctive, business schools need to look at how they deliver management education. As the number of business schools continues to expand globally year-on-year, every incumbent tries to differentiate itself from the crowd.

Far too often this has meant jumping on the next management bandwagon and teaching the latest fad. While this may be important it is hardly innovative or distinctive and is in danger of slowly leading all business schools to become derivatives of one another.

So does differentiation and distinctiveness in the business school market exist? It would be a shame – for student choice and for the evolution of the sector – if differentiation were to boil down to purely a position in the rankings. For many students, proceeding with a management education still equates with improved opportunities for career advancement and the prospect of securing a salary increase. Is this all that differentiates business schools from one another? Currently Moocs, (massive open online courses) private universities, publishers and corporate universities are seen as disrupters of the traditional business education model. However, perhaps the real disrupter and point of differentiation should be the student experience and the delivery of research-led management education.

Business schools not only need to continue to arm their students with the right employability skills, but also with the right learning perspectives to support life-long learning. One step towards this would be for business schools to develop and deliver programmes which incorporate academic and skills-based competency development as a combined body of knowledge. More…

Professor Amir Sharif is Acting Head of Brunel Business School, Brunel University London. @amsharif

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