Johan Roos, Chief Academic Officer and Professor, Hult International Business School, and 2022 EFMD Annual Conference Chair, shares his thoughts on the 2022 EFMD Annual Conference.
‘More than 13k schools, representing some 20% of all global higher education and transforming the lives of millions of people.’
With those facts, I kicked off the 50th year anniversary EFMD Annual Conference in Prague 8-10 June 2022. On my prompt, 460 delegates from all over the world stood up and warmly congratulated each other for these amazing achievements.
My job was to set the stage for the conference and its theme: “What brought us here may not take us there.” People had travelled a long way to network, to be inspired, and to inspire others.
This is what I said:
Our political, economic, and social systems are stressed, more than in a very long time. Some are quite concerned about our economies, established social systems, and the fragility of the world order and peace. Business practice is changing fast as companies adapt to changing geopolitics, digitisation of everything, post-pandemic work practices, emerging Gen Z preferences, and the need to take not only sustainability and ethics but also diversity and inclusion matters more seriously. The question is to what extent business schools are keeping up with these changes and, if not, what do we have to do?
Post-pandemic demand for business education is growing, and employers are hiring more graduates. But, many business school graduates do not benefit from expected salary increases. Others want to have a different work-life balance than previous generations, and some have even lost their ambition. Some schools proudly list high employment rates shortly after graduation, but for what kind of jobs?
Might positive growth in post-pandemic numbers disguise underlying problems with what we offer and what we do? Might these even disincentivize necessary innovations to keep up with the changing nature of business practices? We should ask ourselves three questions:
To what extent does management education really develop innovators? How does management research drive management innovation? How innovative are we as business schools?
We started out a bit sombre (“the world is a mess”) and ended with examples demonstrating hope. Plenary sessions included the impact of changing geopolitics, realities of the new world of work, the value of education over time, and innovations around the theme of ethics, responsibility and sustainability. Breakout sessions covered a wide range of topics: on micro-credentials, new faculty models, skill gaps, Covid-19 effects on students’ choices, academic freedom, strained international collaboration, and how schools help during the refugee crisis.
Historian Carlota Perez thinks we face 20-30 years of green, sustainable growth enabled by the digital transformation. Please keep that in mind when you read all the bad news. If so, we need innovators, we need to innovate management practices, and we need to be innovative ourselves!
Thanks to EFMD Global et al.!