Industry raps performance gap

Professional body's report is a 'wake-up call' for European business schools, writes Hannah Fearn

January 1, 2009

Business schools across Europe are failing to equip the business leaders of the future with the skills they need, according to a new report.

A report for the European Academy for Business in Society (EABIS) found that 76 per cent of senior executives believed future leaders must be able to deal with difficult issues, including the low-carbon economy and trends in emerging markets.

But less than 8 per cent said these skills were being effectively developed by business schools.

"Senior executives believe there is a real performance gap," the report says. "There is a clear demand for more and better management education and leadership development."

The report, written by academics at Ashridge Business School on behalf of the EABIS, also criticised traditional lecture-based teaching.

"Learning programmes that rely heavily on a lecture-based format are not fit for purpose," it says. "The most effective learning and skills development comes through practical experience, whether on-the-job learning, project-based learning or some other form of experiential learning."

Matthew Gitsham, co-author of the report, said it had "profound implications both for in-house leadership development and business schools".

Jonathan Slack, chief executive of the Association of Business Schools, said: "It is a serious wake-up call to business leaders, business schools and professional bodies in addressing the hugely important issues of environmental, economic and social sustainability."

"Many businesses are now responding strategically to the challenges of sustainability and are looking to partner with business schools for their management and leadership development needs which are on the same learning journey," he said. "Both are interested in research, adaptation, innovation and the creation of new business opportunities and models. They need to talk the talk and walk the walk together."

• A £2 million fellowship programme will allow professionals from industry to work in universities, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council has announced.

The aim of the Industrial Impacts Fellowship is to help researchers translate their work into social and economic benefits for the UK by making use of the skills of industry figures.

A flexible funding programme will allow fellows either to undertake a secondment in a university, or to work part-time with their employer and part-time with a research team.

Philip Graham, executive director of the Association of University Research and Industry Links, said: "If we are to shot-put ourselves out of the recession, embracing innovation is key. What better way of trading ideas between the demand and supply sides than a scheme like this?"

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