"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Future of Management Education in the 21st Century

In the 21st century, the study of management in academia should incorporate more multi-disciplinary and practical approaches rather than solely the traditional, theoretical curriculum of marketing, finance, operations, and accounting that we see today. The rise of globalization has resulted in an increased need for greater multi-cultural understanding with regards to political, social, and economic conditions around the world. As such, new managers in the 21st century will require not only traditional business knowledge, but also other forms that involve the integration of psychology, political science, languages, macroeconomics, law, and sociology. Whether working for a domestic firm or a multi-national, managers must have some basic understanding of these issues as they relate to business. It is my belief that management as a discipline has become too traditional, rigid, and limited in scope. Business schools are too preoccupied teaching theories to students that focus solely on bottom line principles, and are sending them out into the world with almost no practical experience or knowledge of other important disciplines that affect corporations and managers alike.

In order to remedy this problem, I would suggest two major changes to traditional management programs. To start off, I would include in the core courses of all management students a course on international affairs, consumer behaviour, business ethics, languages, world history, cross-cultural management, law and sociology, and economic integration/globalization. By including such courses, it will provide management students with a broader, more multi-disciplinary approach to understanding both consumer thinking, as well as the environment in which businesses operate. In addition to the inclusion of these multi-disciplinary courses, I would also make internships and practical experience a mandatory component of the program before graduation. This will provide students with a more practical understanding of the real-world application of business theories, as well as provide them with invaluable experience and important contacts in the business world.

In order to change management education for the better, professors should not only emphasize bottom line principles, but they should also teach students the power and importance of business as a tool for positive change. In my ideal management class, a professor will apply this approach. They will not limit their students to just the use of exams and textbooks as a means of learning, but will also use class discussion, cases, team projects, guest speakers, and field trips as a means of challenging and inspiring their students. My ideal class would not only focus on one discipline, but will include other disciplines as well and relate these to one another so as to show their interconnectedness and importance to managers. In my view, the ideal management class will focus less on profits, and more on ethics, global issues, and effective business practices. It will discard exams and textbooks as the sole method of learning, and will put more emphasis on personal growth, leadership, and practical business skills rather than the importance of the grade. Ask many business students when they graduate and most will say the same thing – that they forgot most of what they were taught in the classroom, textbooks, and exams. In order to make the study of management more effective, and more memorable, it is my belief that it is now the time to move away from limited traditional methods to a more practical, multi-disciplinary approach.

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