Acclaimed businessman, Rob Fyfe (formerly CEO of Air New Zealand), was reported this week as saying that business students don't understand leadership in the real world, and that universities should take a more authentic approach to leadership study. I agree.
Over the last two years, I have been immersed in post-graduate study—initially a post-graduate certificate in business, and subsequently doctoral study. In so doing, I have observed some rather interesting behaviours and patterns that, quite frankly, trouble me.
The consequences of these behaviours and patterns appear in the assignment submissions, theses and research reports produced by students and faculty. Much of the material is technically correct but either hard to understand or lacking in any applicability to real-world situations. It's almost as if the "so what?" question has never been posed, let alone wrestled with.
In my opinion, all aspiring business students should be required to undertake at least five years practical experience in a relevant field before they are accepted into any post-graduate programme. Also, faculty should be required to do a significant period of field work on at least a sabbatical basis (every seven years). This type of requirement would ensure students and staff have at least a basic understanding of business in the real-world. Such a model may well be threatening to some faculty who sit comfortably in their learned environment. However, I suspect the quality and practical usefulness of the research produced, and calibre of graduates re-entering the workforce, would increase markedly.
What do you think?
Thoughts on corporate purpose, strategy and governance; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.