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How do we create the business school and managers of the future? Rethinking Business Schools draws upon extensive case study evidence from both Russell Group and Non-Russell Group University Business Schools in the UK to answer some of these questions from a European perspective and stimulate a wider debate.



The Starting Point

1. The Starting Point

The management guru Peter Drucker said, ‘the only thing we know about the future is that it will be different’. In recent times there has been a great deal of debate regarding what universities and their business schools should look like in the future. Much of this debate has centred on ‘what’ needs to be changed rather than ‘how’ things can be changed, given the current reality of university and business-school structures here in the UK. A great deal of this debate has also come from the USA, where there is increasing concern regarding issues related to funding for students and the perspectives of business schools. Many (Mintzberg, 2004; Bennis & Toole, 2005; Christensen & Eyring, 2011) have argued that change is needed vis-à-vis the focus of business schools and what they provide in terms of their education programmes and overall benefits to society. Many of the researchers feel that business schools have in some senses lost their way. The work presented in this book attempts to provide a UK-based perspective of how business schools and their universities need to change in order to meet ongoing challenges in the following areas: online technology; social media; the potential impact of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses); changing student demands regarding value for money, employability and employer demands concerning the level of engagement that business schools and universities have with their organizations.

Julian C. Sulej

Where Are We Now? The Current Reality


2. Tier 1 — Traditional/Elite Universities: Case Studies

In this part of the book an attempt will be made to examine the current attitudes of university business-school leaders and senior academics towards the current challenges identified in Chapter 1, which include the changing demands from students, employers and governments, the impact of new technology and the availability of resources. In addition, how do these leaders drive business schools - and indeed, their universities as institutions - forward in responding to these challenges? Other elements that provide the underlying framework to the case-study protocol and the overall focus of the research include the following: The origins of the university and its associated business school. What drove their formation and how has this influenced the underlying traditions, focus and processes of the university? For example: research focus versus teaching; research application and employability; applied problem-solving.What are the potential barriers to innovation and change?What are the key drivers and future opportunities as seen by the leaders of the university and its business school?

Julian C. Sulej

3. Tier 1 — Case Study 1: University A

University A is located in the North West of England. The university is more than 150 years old, being founded, at least in terms of the initial institute, in the first quarter of the 19th century. In the last quarter of the 19th century the initial institute was turned into a technical skills-based school focused on industrial requirements and improving literacy and numeracy in the working population. The second institution that forms the other half of a merged institution was formed around the middle part of the 19th century with an educational model based on that of German universities such as Heidelberg and others. It was this model that provided the focus on research and the creation of knowledge that still forms part of the university’s focus today. This second institution gained individual university status in the late 20th century. A number of other colleges contributed to the initial organizational structure, which was dissolved in the early part of the 20th century when these other colleges received their own university charters - they are located in the North and the Midlands.

Julian C. Sulej

4. Tier 1 — Case Study 2: University B

University B is located in the Midlands and was founded approximately 50 years ago in 1965 as a result of a partnership between the nearest city and the county administration. University B is currently located on a 700-acre campus that was formed from an initial site of 400 acres plus the purchase of adjoining land and the amalgamation of a local college of education with the main university institution. The initial UG body was less than 500 students but has now grown to more than 13,000 UG students and a total student population (in 2013) of approximately 23,0 people. The university’s business school has a total student population of approximately 1600 students (UGs: 39%; PGs: 61%). There are approximately 8000 non-UK students representing 36% of the total student population (University B website, 2014).

Julian C. Sulej

5. Tier 2 — Case Study 3: University C

University C was initially formed from five separate institutions dating back more than 150 years to the early part of the 19th century. These early institutions included a College of Art and a School of Music and were brought together as a city polytechnic in 1971. Four years later, an additional three colleges related to education and teaching were incorporated into the polytechnic. In 1989 the polytechnic became an independent corporation with charitable status in common with other polytechnics at that time in accordance with the Education Reform Act 1989. The polytechnic became a university in 1992 in accordance with the Further and Higher Education Act of that year. During 1995, University C joined with a further two colleges in the city and a specialist centre related to technology and computing was formed in 2000. Additional changes occurred between 2001 and 2005 involving departmental changes and amalgamation with other schools. University C adopted its current name in 2007.

Julian C. Sulej

6. Tier 2 — Case Study 4: University D

University D’s earliest institutions date back to 1875 and 1878, one of which was a catering college. In 1908 there was a merger between these institutions to create a larger college that subsequently merged with a polytechnic formed in 1991. The university as it stands today was formally created in 1993. University D was one of the first UK universities to create a New York-based campus and has a number of international links with other institutions around the world, including Oman, Bangladesh, China, India, USA and South America. Again, University D is a non-Russell Group university and is not considered to be research-intensive. However, it is ranked in the UK Top Ten for research related to allied health topics, and has research strengths in areas such as the environment, vision science, business, gender equality and public/government finance. In the most recent RAE, the university achieved an overall classification of 2.01. It has a total of approximately 17,0 students from more than 100 countries with a student-staff ratio of 20.9. These figures make University D the smallest of the four universities making up the case studies. More than 68% of students achieve a good honours degree. The university has excellent student facilities with a specialist learning environment, more than 1800 study places and over 2000 computer workstations throughout the campus and halls of residence.

Julian C. Sulej

7. What Is the Perceived and Likely Future of University-Based Business Schools?

Drawing on the case studies (see Table 6.2) it can be seen that the vision of the Russell Group universities (A and B) is somewhat loftier and wider than that of the non-Russell Group universities (C and D). For example, ‘harnessing virtuosity’; ‘world-renowned’; ‘leading university-based business school in Europe’; and so on.

Julian C. Sulej

Where Are We Going?


8. Design of Universities and Their Business Schools

This chapter attempts to address a number of issues related to the organizational perspectives of universities and their business schools in terms of their structures and some of the processes related to administration and overall management. The case studies presented in this work have already shown that there are a number of areas within university and business-school management where they appear to be out of step in terms of aligning strategic objectives, resources and organizational form and function. It is not intended in this chapter to examine university campuses from an architectural or usage perspective - although it can be argued that in many cases university campuses, in terms of their physical location and access are not always as effective as they might be in addressing the needs of students, the related management and organizational processes and research and library facilities. Rather this chapter is concerned with external factors and their influence on internal processes and the links to resources, strategy and the resultant effects on performance outcomes.

Julian C. Sulej

9. Financial Management and Funding Implications

Barber et al. (2013) in common with other researchers and commentators suggest that as a result of many of the influences discussed thus far, the current and established models in terms of structure and finance for higher education in the UK are no longer fit for purpose and need radical change. Equally, the current author would argue that this perspective, that of radical change, is also required in order that UK business schools are able to successfully meet the ongoing challenges of the 21st century. Another key element of such arguments and change has to be the availability of resources - finance and other related elements - that are likely to make up the platform on which to build radical change in terms of where income comes from. Environmental and economic influences are increasing the level of competition from a range of alternative education providers and it is likely this situation will promote both opportunities and threats for universities and their business schools. In addition, governments need to change regulatory structures and regimes, as well as their adherence to somewhat dubious ranking approaches to the allocation of key funding for universities and their business schools. Another key trend is that the increasing demand for and the focus of private providers of management-education programmes incorporating a strong focus on practice as well as guidance through mentoring practices is forcing the need for a radical rethink (Shattock, 2010; Barber et al., 2013).

Julian C. Sulej

10. Faculty and Students of the Future

Following on from Chapter 9, this chapter considers some of the arguments and implications related to the changing nature of students and the increasing demands for different skills and perspectives in terms of faculty members. These entail factors that are potentially important at the individual level of universities and business schools. For example, demands related to research, teaching, administration and the impact of online technology, and increasing influences from global competition and non-traditional providers of management education. In addition, there is the influence of an increasingly consumer/stakeholder-orientated approach that is being demanded by students in the current university and business-school environment. All of these elements arguably require increasing flexibility and a wider range of skills than are currently used by existing faculty; there is an increased need for faculties to cross traditional inter-organizational boundaries and to engage more effectively with the external business community and other sectors, for example, the non-profit sector (Muff et al., 2013; Gibb & Haskins, 2014). On top of these influences there are those that come from changing environmental factors, such as PESTE- related factors that have been explored to some extent in the earlier chapters of this book.

Julian C. Sulej

Brave New World


11. Beyond the Ivory Tower

Following on from Part II, Part III now explores in more detail the potential shape of the business school in the future as we move through the 21st century and potential approaches towards how the structures, processes, focus, funding, recruitment of faculty, research and so on can be changed, hopefully for the better. These changes are required because it is currently arguable that existing models in relation to business schools and even universities at large will be viable into the future (Bennis & O’Toole, 2004; Mintzberg, 2004; McCluskey & Winter, 2012; Muff et al., 2013). The issues related to the ‘University of the Future’ have been widely researched in recent times (for example, Christensen & Eyring, 2011; Ernst & Young, 2012; McCluskey & Winter, 2012; Muff et al., 2013; Thomas et al., 2013). A key factor is that although these researchers vary considerably in their approach in terms of offering solutions to the question ‘What will the University of the Future Look Like?’ there is no doubt that they have clearly identified the need for change based on the overarching premise that the current models of universities are unsustainable into the future. Other commentators in the private sector, such as Ernst and Young, and in the public sector and elsewhere agree with this need for change. The evidence drawn from the case studies in this work also indicates that there is an increasing recognition of the need for change within the UK university business-school sector.

Julian C. Sulej

12. New Scholarship and Research

This chapter will draw on some of the earlier observations made in relation to the way in which research can be used to inform teaching and to discuss the arguable need for researchers, in terms of management research, to focus more on applied aspects and the value of their research outcomes to practitioners. This includes the need for the development of ‘practice intelligence’ for students as opposed to somewhat abstruse academic endeavours that have debatable relevance to practitioners as business schools move through the 21st century. So far, this book has argued that management research needs to move away from the somewhat academic and potentially less relevant perspectives that have been applied in recent times simply to enable institutions to achieve rankings in league tables or for use in determining an individual’s career progression from a less holistic viewpoint. The issues involved have been debated widely over the last ten years or so (for example, Slotte & Tynjala, 2003; Trank & Rynes, 2003; Bennis & O’Toole, 2004; Mintzberg, 2004; Rousseau, 2006; Rynes, et al., 2007; Shapiro, et al., 2007; Burke & Rau, 2010; Mindruta, 2013; Singh, 2013) and yet still, at least in the UK, the focus of research is on quality and academic publication plus success in REF exercises. Additional focus has also been placed on the issue of the use of research to inform teaching.

Julian C. Sulej

The Final Destination — Conclusions


13. Embracing Change

In this, the final part of the book, it is intended to revisit earlier chapters and draw final conclusions on how UK business schools need to change in order to promote the development of the kind of management education that is arguably needed in order for the UK and its managers plus their businesses to be competitive into the future. In the earlier case- study chapters, reference was made to the application of the ‘case-study approach’ (Yin, 1994) and the development of underlying and rival theories in order to create an analytical template against which a comparison of the outcomes of the case-study research could be compared and then integrated in terms of answering ‘How’ and ‘Why’ questions. Returning to these theories enables conclusions to be drawn regarding the effectiveness or otherwise of the case-study business schools in terms of their individual strategies, the degree of alignment and integration of their individual approaches and the current challenges presented by the external and internal environment of business schools.

Julian C. Sulej


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