Art is now on the agenda, so Business schools should also be about how people think, argue and interact
Business schools traditionally took a narrow view of their subject matter: their business was business. But today there is growing awareness that MBA and other business students should have a more rounded education.
Culture is increasingly part of the MBA experience. "Because Oxford’s MBA students inhabit both business school and college worlds, they acquire cultural as well as organisational literacy and we put great store by this wider education. Business schools should be about how people think, argue, and interact as well as how effectively they apply models," says Stephan Chambers, MBA programme director at Oxford’s Saïd Business School.
"Our MBAs have cultural aspects included in their study tours abroad to Beijing and Prague," says Dr Patricia Rees, the MBA programme director at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. "For example, last year the full-time MBAs went to the opera in Prague, a first for many of them. In Beijing they also went to the opera and visited the Forbidden City and Summer Palace. Deeper cultural insights serve to provide students with an edge."
In search of culture, students are increasingly peripatetic. This spring, for the first time, students studying at Audencia Nantes School of Management spent time at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London and in Bilbao, home of the Guggenheim Museum. London centred on the business of art and the fine art market while Bilbao looked at the city’s cultural policy.
"Audencia was the first school in France to offer a special study track in the management of cultural organisations. We consider general culture as indispensable for understanding the complexity of management and decision making," says Jean Charroin, director of Audencia’s Master in Management programme. "As our students increasingly work outside France, such a specialisation had to offer a truly European take on management in this area. Thanks to the partnership with Sotheby’s Institute of Art and the Bilbao University of Deusto, our students can study the Anglo-Saxon notion of private sponsorship and the more southern European notion of municipal support for culture." His students have to speak three languages by the end of the programme. There are compulsory lectures on a range of nonmanagement subjects, such as the history of theatre, art and religion, film analysis and journalism.
Few business schools have embraced culture to the extent of Spain’s IE Business School which now includes liberal arts studies, defined as applied culture, in its different Masters programmes. This, says Arantza de Areilza , dean of the IE School of Arts and Humanities , is a direct response to increasing demand from the business world for managers with a knowledge that goes beyond traditional management education.
"The market calls for businessmen and women who understand the global surroundings in which they live and work and who are sensitive to cultural differences," says de Areilza.
Elsewhere, taking inspiration from nearby La Scala, Florence’s renaissance splendours and Rome’s rich cinematic heritage, Bocconi University in Milan has introduced a Masters of Science in Economics and Management in Arts, Culture, Media and Entertainment.
Germany’s newest graduate management school, the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Berlin, is integrating performing and visual arts.
ESMT worked with Jörg Reckhenrich, a Berlin-based artist and film producer, who works with business schools to integrate the arts with business education. Jamie Anderson, the programme director, says: "Jörg’s artistic approach brings a refreshing and dynamic view to management education, forcing people to test and experiment in areas where they may often have no formal training. Stage performance and film-making are particularly powerful in the way that they put managers in the spotlight, and allows them to explore communication and emotion in a safe but environment."
Why managers should have an eye for design
Linking management and design skills seems to be in vogue at the moment. In the UK, the Design London project is uniting designers with management experts at Tanaka Business School, and now in France, Grenoble Ecole de Management and Strate Collège Designers have signed an agreement encouraging collaboration between the schools. One key objective is to help business school students to become experts in both innovative marketing techniques and sustainable, original product development.
After a brief hiatus, a new dean takes the helm at Durham Business School, Durham University. Stepping into the role is Professor Rob Dixon, left, an academic with a strong track record in finance and accounting. An internal appointment, Dixon previously served as director of the Durham MBA programme and, since 2005, as deputy dean of the school.
At the University of Strathclyde Business School, Professor Susan Hart becomes one of a select group of women to lead a highly-ranked business school. Hart took up her post as dean last month, moving up from her position as head of the department of marketing and vice-dean research.