Fostering a collaborative perspective in management education

The current challenge for management education is one of re-legitimization, particularly in the context of unresolved humanitarian, political and environmental problems. One Swedish business school has already proven itself an admirable institutional role model, given its long-held tradition of collaborating with surrounding society by connecting their faculty and students to the larger scope of community and global contexts, and working on human rights and social sustainability issues in tandem with private, public, and not-for-profit organizations. The business school further employs ‘live cases’ in its courses, where students are placed into the field to solve real problems across different facets of society.

In most cases students of management education are taught that the business perspective is supreme to all others, and therefore do not always understand the need for mechanisms of creating collaboration between organizations in different sectors in order to resolve broader issues, such as sustainability.  The current challenge for management education is one of re-legitimization, particularly in the context of unresolved humanitarian, political and environmental problems. If business schools want to attract and inspire talented students, secure political support and regain public trust, they must start looking beyond their own interests, those of their faculties and their direct markets.

The Stockholm School of Economics sees two opposing trends in management education: the first is the need to open up, to bring in issues such as sustainability and responsibility and form collaborations with partners from all sectors in society, to make business students aware of the context, the complexity, and the need to think creatively about how to solve some burning societal issues.

An opposing trend meanwhile is encourages higher specialization (often characterised by faculty dominance), of doing even more of the same instead of changing, preferring narrow criteria, less collaboration and pushing students to become even more short-sighted in education instead of broadening their perspectives.

Despite such difficult changes, the SSE is making great strides in fostering close links with the surrounding society and businesses, many of whom are interested in collaborating on common issues.

Collaboration is also encouraged amongst students, who participate in various courses with, for example, students and faculty from the medical school, the engineering school, the arts, crafts and design school, and the university. The SSE offers a module as part of a master program where human rights and social sustainability issues are addressed in a number of different organizations: private, public, and not-for-profit, and where the key to solving the issues is collaboration between these stakeholders. Instead of teaching only theoretical courses or using fabricated cases, the SSE commonly employs “live cases”, where students are placed into the field to solve real problems across different facets of society.

Finally, the SSE is aware that sustainability and related issues would have difficulties gaining legitimacy without a strong research base. Its members therefore embrace an approach of conducting research across different departments, as well as collaborating with the Sustainability Research Group and SuRe.

 

 

Filed in: Institutions as role models, Reflective practice and fieldwork
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