Financial TimesBusiness School Briefing: respect staff, graduates’ progress, gender divide

February 1, 20210
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Welcome to Business School Briefing. We offer you insights from Andrew Hill and Jonathan Moules, and the pick of top stories being read in business schools. Edited by Wai Kwen Chan and Andrew Jack.

Noticeboard

Find out which schools have made it into the FT’s Global MBA ranking of 2021 on Monday, February 8: 
ft.com/mba.

Does business school research deliver real-world benefits? Critics say too many academics focus on esoteric areas with little relevance to society

Andrew Hill’s management challenge

The new tone from the top in Washington DC is that leaders should respect their staff and staff should respect each other. As I’ve written this week, it’s a sign of the depth of dysfunction in the Trump era that incoming president Joe Biden should have to state this at all.

My view is that all leaders should try to be more transparent about their early promises to staff, as a way of holding themselves to account in future and displaying leadership behaviour for others. For my management challenge, I’d like to see some other examples of the actions of good role models: what should leaders say or do to send a positive message? It could be something you’ve witnessed, practised or think ought to have been done by a new leader. Send your thoughts to bschool@ft.com.

Last week I asked what questions you’d pose to board directors as part of an evaluation. Sandra Pickering, inspired by Gerry Brown, author of Making a Difference, about being an independent director, suggests asking “What is the most toxic belief in your boardroom?” as a way of working out whether the board is even able to speak out about dangerous issues.In further reading, the always provocative Lucian Bebchuk’s Harvard Business Review essay about what he says are the overstated perils of short-termism: “Those who are concerned about short-termism should focus on reforming [executive] pay arrangements before considering the adoption of measures that would insulate managers and bring about such costs,” he argues.

Jonathan Moules’ business school news

The countdown has begun to publication of the global MBA ranking next week – you can get a sneak peak of our survey data analysis with this piece, by Sam Stephens and Leo Cremonezi, on the progress of recent business school graduates.

It has been a good year for the degree course. The word from admissions departments is that, after 2020’s rebound in MBA demand, 2021 is looking healthy too. But there is no room for complacency. Concern remains about women hesitating more than men about taking a career break to study full time, for example, which I have assessed in this piece.

Inclusion in all its forms is a key concern for those in business education. A free online diversity training course was launched last week for film makers to address concerns about a lack of inclusivity in the global movie industry. The 30-minute session, aimed at learning how to spot unconscious bias, has been created by the British film industry body Screen Skills.

For further reading, I recommend the following piece by Jeff Skinner, executive director of the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at London Business School, about the challenge for people who have founded companies and then seek salaried jobs. The skills needed to be an entrepreneur – ambition, constantly seeking new ideas – are not so highly rated by corporate HR departments. So much for inclusivity in the workplace.

Data line

Schools were asked how many hours of their MBA course were taught online before and after the pandemic, as expected the number of hours increased exponentially, writes Sam Stephens.

Column chart of The average increase in hours taught online in MBA programmes, region by region showing MBA degrees move to an online format during pandemic

Schools in all regions had an average increase in online hours of at least 200 hours, with schools in Asia-Pacific the average was well above 300 hours. Three quarters of MBA programmes had no hours taught online before the pandemic and now all schools have an average of over 260 hours of material taught remotely.

How good is your knowledge of the news?

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Top business school reads

Reddit traders wage battle against Wall Street Investors and former regulators are growing concerned over rising impact on broader market

Robinhood raises $1bn from investors and taps banks at end of wild week Online brokerage poised to restart trading in some popular stocks after customer backlash

EU demands UK Covid vaccines from AstraZeneca to make up shortfall Contract with drugmaker entitles bloc to production from its British facilities, say officials

Back issues

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