By Wendy Tsung, Associate Dean MBA Career Services, Emory University’s Goizueta Business School
A few months ago I had the pleasure of representing MBA CSEA at the AACSB Co-Lab: Connecting Business Schools with Practice conference in Atlanta. The conference was hosted by Erika James, Dean of Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, board member of AACSB, a.k.a. my boss. This topic was chosen because AACSB membership, made up of mostly deans and program directors of business schools, believes that there is an increasing need for collaboration with the business community. Schools from as far away as Australia, India, and Thailand were present at this conference to discuss the need for better and more relevant collaboration, sharing best practices on successful partnerships in research, in the classroom, and on co-curricular activities to advance the goals of education and business.
The companies and business schools at the conference would all like more engagement and collaboration but believe that there are substantial barriers to accomplishing this. Companies want quick, relevant research that can inform or guide their decision making and have a bottom line impact. Researchers want deep, long-term studies on a focused and narrow research area that can be published in leading research journals. These goals and approaches are rarely aligned. While there are ways to engage companies in student experiential learning activities, broader faculty and corporate collaboration may be out of reach until business schools begin to change how the criteria used for faculty tenure evaluation, the faculty compensation structure, and how rankings publications evaluate the reputation of schools using publications in leading journals. Another challenge that was identified was finding the right person within the corporation and the school to contact and respond to these efforts for collaboration.
While many hurdles were surfaced regarding collaboration on knowledge creation and research, much more progress has been made in the classroom and on co-curricular activities. The corporate representatives shared the need for schools to develop not just the technical, hard or required skills but also the soft or differentiating skills around communication, curiosity, and adaptive thinking. These skills can be best practiced through experiential projects and engagement with solving current, corporate problems.
Of course, the members of the MBA CSEA already know the value of collaboration with businesses and live it on a daily basis. In fact, many of the deans and program administrators recognized that the career services office has many of the relationships with companies that the school can build on to expand their collaboration efforts. Career services already foster relationships with students and businesses to help each other realize their goals. There is an opportunity for career services to work in close partnership with other parts of our schools to build relationships and expand our collaboration efforts with companies for the entire school.