Which side are you on?  

06 April 2023

Claudia Monteiro summarises the hot debates at this year’s EFMD MBA conference. 

Having to choose a side used to be the stuff of football fandom, but now it’s present in every conversation we hold. Are you for or against globalisation? If your school is for globalisation, as it will very likely be, how do you accommodate some Generation Z students that argue for a de-globalised world? And what about those students who come from protectionist economies? 

As to the notion of market competition, as it’s been often taught in business schools – how can we still hold that view when the sustainability agenda calls for ecosystems of collaboration versus companies that ignore the communities where they operate? As for AI breaking into the classroom without asking permission to do so – will your school be banning or dancing with ChatGPT when it comes to assessment? 

At this year’s EFMD MBA Conference in Porto – aptly titled Leading Through Continuous Turmoil - there was a flavour to the debate that turned break out conversations into the ifs and buts of today’s geopolitics and tech disruption, and how Schools are strategically responding, or not, to those realities.  

For one, the traditional separation between politics and higher education is under threat even in the most established democracies. In the US there are attempts in some states to legislate against EDI in the curriculum. In Poland the government has pushed its nationalistic agenda onto research funding, rewarding papers published in Polish language-only over and above any papers published in English, thus making researchers choose between getting funds or seeing their research as part of a global community of knowledge. 

Delegates couldn’t get away from the current hot topic – how ChatGPT is breaking into the classroom. A survey conducted by Rebecca Loades (MBA Director at ESMT Berlin) at the conference showed that out of all schools taking part, only two have a ChatGPT policy, with nine schools currently developing policies and 30 schools not yet addressing it. One of the most prestigious universities in France – Sciences Po – just banned students from using the tool, while in the UK Cambridge University will allow students to use ChatGPT as long as it is not used to write coursework or exams.  

What about your School - which side of the fence is it on? 

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