Covid-19 Offers the Opportunity for Business Schools to Think Creatively
Business schools are going to be even more critical in shaping our agenda and recovery in the aftermath of Covid-19, assuming they can respond with agility to the astonishing breadth of challenges economies are now facing. The leadership skills needed to navigate countries and global companies out of the wreckage of Covid-19 over the next decade will not magically appear. In reality, the leadership education agenda needs an overhaul. Earlier in 2020 pre-pandemic the World Economic Forum demonstrated how higher education can adapt teaching to the new world of work. The starting point for this pivot always sits with the business schools to have a deeper understanding of how to effectively train leaders to be prepared and consciously build more pluralism in companies, communities and countries.
We are currently experiencing the most invasive overhaul of education across Universities and business schools, and this encompasses the instantaneous shift to online delivery for students across the world. The mode of delivery, which will move into a pragmatic hybrid or blended approach for most institutions, is only one element of this tectonic shift; equally important but less apparent is the approach to teaching. The meta-leadership skills of critical thinking and creativity are now more essential than leaders’ need to be prepared to create the ‘next normal’ in the wake of Covid-19. Of course, these discussions are the tipping point for addressing the various inequalities – economically and socially, that have erupted during this period and the future of work impacted by emerging technologies; each of these areas contains multiple layers of complexity, however, when dealing with these in tandem, the effect is a tsunami.
As with any organization, for business schools to change their cultures will require agility. For this happen, we need to evaluate the composition of these institutions critically. While reputation and brand are significant influencing factors in decision-making when embarking on an MBA or degree program, in reality, the intellectual capital of a business schools, or its faculty, will ultimately determine its success. While many companies have been working on the diversity and pluralism agenda for their staff, business schools have been slower to produce results that demonstrate progress. A recent Journal of Marketing Education paper by Krishen, Lee, and Raschke, using a broad range of universities, explains the contradiction of experiences faced by female and male academics and how this, in turn, supports the ongoing scarcity of female professors in the higher levels of business schools.