Are you dreaming of a liquid business school?

13 May 2020

In the latest See the Future blogs, our founder Andrew Crisp takes stock of how faculty and professional staff imagine their dream business school. 


Call it what you want – hybrid, cooperative, blended, or even liquid as I heard it described recently by Santiago Iniguez, President of IE University in Spain; much future study in business education seems likely to have components of both online and on campus learning. Professor Enrique Dans shared in Forbes recently that online courses at IE are among those that generate the greatest satisfaction while offering a much more equal environment for participation.

In the initial findings from our See the Future study with GMAC and EFMD published in February, 49% of faculty and professional staff at business schools definitely agree that a blended model combining face-to-face and online learning is an ideal skills development path. While online learning is hardly new, it has become ubiquitous in recent weeks, but there also remains a strong interest, especially among younger students to be on campus; the experience is often as important as the education.

So beyond a blended approach to study, what might the business school of the future look like for faculty and professional staff? Being highly ranked was not a high priority, staff put it in tenth place when asked what sort of school they wanted to work for. Instead they wanted to be part of a school that challenges world views through innovative and critical thinking with a focus on social responsibility. No doubt, if these actions lead to a strong ranking there would be no objection, but it wasn’t seen as an end in itself.

In the short term, staff saw internationalisation as being best delivered through partnerships with other institutions, but over the next decade transnational education was highlighted. Partnerships and collaboration were particularly strong themes for staff with degrees developed across university faculties and relationships with private companies to deliver new programmes highlighted as opportunities for the future. New programmes were most likely to be developed at a Masters level, in the executive education space and for lifelong learning. Just under a third (31%) of staff think it increasingly likely that they will close their full-time MBA.

The new programmes will provide learners with skills in critical thinking, highlighted by 56% of staff, emotional intelligence (41%), dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty (39%), cross-cultural understanding (39%) and complex problem solving (38%).

In many schools such approaches are not for tomorrow, but today. In our experience working with business schools, this is not 10 years from now - it is this month, this semester, this academic year. All these things are already happening in business schools. Tomorrow’s business school will certainly be digital, open, responsive and entrepreneurial, but much more than that it will be agile, fluid, impactful and responsible – are you ready to be part of it?

Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels.


Check our 'See The Future' free summary.


Read more of our 'See the Future' blogposts:

Time to think about business unusual

A new world of work means a new world for business schools

Students and employers want learning that heads in more than one direction

I wander lonely as a cloud security architect: Why Wordsworth might point towards the future of business education


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