EFMD GN – KEIO Joint Executive Conference


How Can Business Schools Support the Internationalisation of Japanese Companies?

17-18 December 2018

Venue: Keio Business School, Hiyoshi Campus, Yokohama, Japan

EFMD GLOBAL NETWORK and KEIO BUSINESS SCHOOL closed 2018 with a high-level executive conference to intensify and broaden the dialogue about how Japanese business schools and companies can join forces to support and encourage each other’s internationalisation efforts. As Dean Hirokazu Kono of Keio Business School explains, globalised markets require Japanese firms to internationalise every aspect of their business, which extends to the HR function and, in particular, cross-border talent management; Japanese business schools face analogous challenges and are therefore natural partners in increasing their cross-border footprint.

Keio Business School organised this event jointly with EFMD Global Network, which consists of more than 900 business schools, corporations, and other institutional members worldwide. Director General Eric Cornuel welcomed the two-day meeting as an excellent opportunity to explore innovative means of interlinking internationalisation and impact agendas for management education providers. Business schools everywhere have to become more impactful in the way they are interacting with non-academic actors, so Prof. Cornuel and they can meet this challenge most effectively by incorporating international trends in management education.

The closing townhall meeting engaged more than 40 corporate and business school executives in attendance to identify concrete steps forward. Based on the consensus that progress can only be achieved if companies and business schools accept the need for a distinctly more collaborative approach, five main issues were identified that should be prioritised in the dialogue emanating from this conference.

  • Business schools should recalibrate the balance between academic methodologies and the competency needs of companies; this should be done in partnership with corporate partners to infuse the management challenges of today’s VUCA world.
  • Japanese companies need to become more deliberate in aligning managerial competencies with business school graduates’ career aspirations. Softening the traditional seniority principle is particularly relevant in this context in order to support the retention of international management talent.
  • Management education must shift away from considering curricular content as an end in itself and focus on strengthening the self-leadership of business school graduates. Business schools should move beyond knowledge transfer and skill set development, often referred to as the fundamental curriculum components of an MBA degree, and invest more in shaping the students’ agility and adaptability mindset. Future managers must acquire the ability to change and develop in the face of the novel (evermore complex and ambiguous) professional challenges encountered at different stages of their career.
  • The life-cycle of management education is in need of a more fundamental review. Practice-relevant mentoring, personal development and just-in-time delivery of relevant content are currently under-provided for the sake of delivering management education in a degree package. Unbundling traditional delivery formats into a more drawn out sequence of short programs can potentially offer a way forward, for instance by interlinking degree and non-degree education more closely.
  • Corporate talent management must itself become more change ready in order to produce change-ready managers, which in turn is the essence for making companies bloom and develop in the VUCA world. It is a core component of agile HR management. Japanese actors should use their cultural heritage not as a burden in this context, but as an asset that can be levered to take management development to the next level.

In his summary, Prof. Ulrich Hommel, Director of Business School Development of EFMD GN, pointed out that addressing these five vital challenges will help to bridge the gap between corporate development approaches designed at the level of corporate headquarters and the HR needs of supporting international operations. In other words, the internationalisation of HR policies will act as a catalyst for the necessary change and, if business schools wish to play an active part in this process, they need to follow suit. Prof. Masahiro Okada, Conference Chair and Academic Director of EMBA Program at Keio Business School concluded that it is time for Japanese business schools to help companies realign HR practices with the global market and finding pathways that encourage gradual adjustment whenever needed while retaining the strengths of the Japanese way wherever possible.

In the view of the organisers, the executive conference is delivering a powerful message of collaborative change to be orchestrated by Japanese business schools and companies. Director General Cornuel and Dean Kono expressed their hope that this dialogue will find a fruitful continuation in 2019. In their view, it is particularly encouraging that the outcome of the town hall discussion closely mirrors the insights delivered by the corporate presenters – Shigeyoshi Uehara (Yokogawa Electric), Yoshiyuki Yano (Chugai Pharma), Kazushi Ambe (Sony) and Chiharu Takakura (Ajinomoto) – as well as the participant feedback from representatives of Stanley Electric, Nikko Chemicals, Miki Pulley, Okasan Securities, Daiichi Life Insurance, Nippatsu Spring, and others. The remarks delivered by Mitsuyasu Otsuki of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) signalled an understanding of why such a dialogue is needed.

EFMD GN and Keio Business School invite the business school community to participate in the forthcoming discussions, especially because of the broad relevance of the discussion agenda. The presence of deans, professors and senior managers of a considerable number of Japanese and international business schools at the conference (e.g. Keio, Waseda, Meiji, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific, NUCB, Aoyama Gakuin, Globis from Japan; HKUST, Nova, Sasin, South China University of Technology, Asian Institute of Management, and McGill from the international business school community) signals a strong interest in becoming engaged.